Ag producers feel impact of growing suburbia


Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will experience the challenges facing Kansas agricultural producers who earn their living right next door to the state's most populous city, when she participates in the Kansas Farm Bureau Governor's Farm & Ranch Tour this summer in Sedgwick County.

The KFB Governor's Farm & Ranch Tour will take place Aug. 31 in Sedgwick County.

"We are honored for the opportunity to host Gov. Sebelius in Sedgwick County," said Sedgwick County Farm Bureau President Jim Youngers, who with his wife, Dana, and 10 children, raise wheat, corn, soybeans and run a small cow herd near Viola. "We're eager to share with her our professional ability to confront issues and find solutions in the interest of ourselves and our city neighbors."

The Kansas Farm Bureau Governor's Farm & Ranch Tour is designed to provide the governor and other elected and appointed policymakers direct contact with the Kansas farm and ranch families struggling with unique structural changes impacting Kansas' agriculture industry.

The policy issues impacting farmers and ranchers that are directly attributable to population shifts and expansion of urban/suburban communities are real. In Sedgwick County, landowners' rights are impacted by annexation, eminent domain and zoning. Water rights are impacted by suburban growth and expansion. Proximity to a significant population base provides opportunities for agritourism and rural-based economic development.

"We are grateful for the governor's commitment," said Steve Baccus, an Ottawa County producer who serves as president of Kansas Farm Bureau. "In one day, Gov. Sebelius will experience the unique policy challenges facing Kansas farmers and ranchers who live, sometimes literally, in the shadows of suburban growth. No one can tell this story better than the farm families who live it every day."

Kansas Farm Bureau represents grassroots agriculture. Established in 1919, this non-profit advocacy organization supports farm families who earn their living in a changing industry.

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