High Plains Journal’s signature summer events—Sorghum U/Wheat U and Cattle U and Trade Show—are headed for a new virtual format because of COVID-19. Sorghum U/Wheat U will be Aug. 11 and 12 and the Cattle U and Trade Show will be Sept. 8 to 11.

As many High Plains readers know by listening to their radio or watching television the air is filled with the unmistakable sounds of scoundrels, hoodlums and thieves. That may be the best way to sum up some of the campaign advertisements we all have to brace ourselves for—regardless of the time of day—and they are relentless.

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The fireworks have flown and the wheat has been harvested. Farm and ranch families across the High Plains are now busily preparing for another annual summer tradition—the county fair. For most 4-H members, that event will not look the same as in years past.

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.

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One flip of the evening news, turn the knob on a radio station or look above the fold of a general circulation newspaper or magazine and it is clear: 2020 is challenging our nation’s conscience. Even those who are involved in production agriculture.

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A recent Kansas Farm Income presentation indicated that expectations were going to be tough news even before the COVID-19 landed on the global economic scene.

The unofficial start for summer falls on May 25 in a year that is unlike any other. The significance of the timeless tradition of Memorial Day should not be lost, even if public ceremonies are canceled. High Plains farmers and ranchers, of course, know that while Memorial Day is another day in a busy stretch of planting spring crops and tending to livestock and preparing for wheat harvest, it also represents a spirit of tradition, recognition and respect.

Mother’s Day, recognized on May 10, should not take a backseat to COVID-19. While it has a different feel on the High Plains this year, it should remind us even more about the affinity we have for our mothers.

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With livestock markets, crop decisions and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic weighing heavily on the minds of farmers and ranchers, you may have put aside an important piece of mail—your 2020 census questionnaire. It’s understandable if other priorities got in the way of completing that task this spring, but it’s vital that you respond to the census by mail, online or by phone.

Even with the uncertainty of the past six weeks we cannot lose sight that agriculture has historically led the way to our nation’s recovery and that means young men and women graduates, whether from a high school, a community college, a vocational school or a university are needed.

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Throughout the world, uncertainty is everywhere. Although this is somewhat of a new feeling consumers can relate to today, uncertainty is a certainty every day on the farm.

Through wars, the Dust Bowl, and every natural disaster Mother Nature has up her sleeves, farmers find a way to plant seeds or market their livestock. The acts of farming go on, even in the midst of a global pandemic like COVID-19.

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The novel coronavirus has made its way into the High Plains states and it is a threat that readers should not dismiss as we try to get our hands wrapped around this chapter that involves many of our countries that want our farm-raised products.

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In December, the Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health hosted another tabletop foreign animal disease preparedness exercise. The goal was to identify and work through any challenges to restricting livestock movement if, or when, a foreign animal disease is detected not just in Kansas but also in neighboring states.

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The bug known as coronavirus has afflicted commodity and stock markets with an unprecedented bite. Farmers and ranchers agree that we should be concerned. But they rationally argue that the common cold and influenza are much more prevalent every winter, and they do not rock the United States markets like we have seen with this latest bug that has its roots in China.

It’s National FFA Week and every year it comes around, I reflect on the present and whether my life would be the same if I hadn’t put on that corduroy jacket years ago. That article of clothing was the facilitator of my future and being reunited with it is a mixture of emotions.

Perhaps if there was one pleasant surprise to watching a Super Bowl, aside from watching the Kansas City Chiefs win the Lombardi Trophy, it could be that there was not much controversy over production agriculture issues.

With all the news of the day coming in from the Capitol about trade agreements and federal regulations, which are vital to how farmers an ranchers go about conducting their business, what happens at the local level is as likely to have as much, if not more, of an impact than what the federal government does (or doesn’t do).

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2019 was the 70th year of High Plains Journal’s publication. You might have read some of what my colleague Kylene Scott wrote in her end-of-the-year package. 

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While rattling down a dusty country road or rolling across an asphalt highway, there are only a few things that really catch my eye: stray dogs, Tex-Mex restaurants and beautiful old barns. There is something about faded whitewash and classic red paint, weathervanes, sliding barn doors and unique designs that are incredibly picturesque and nostalgic.

Editors like to see stories of success and ushering in a new year is the right time to be optimistic and have high hopes. 

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The new year is nearly upon us. In looking back this past year it is easy to see why it was a bumpy ride as a result of presidential decisions on trade wars to Mother Nature’s unending fits and temper tantrums that led to floods and droughts.

In the hustle and bustle of trying to prepare for Christmas it can become so easy to focus on what’s ahead—getting holiday travel schedules down, dealing with inclement weather, preparing for end of the year financial reports, checking on government programs and deadlines and the list goes on and on.

It was a typical Wednesday. I sent my youngest off to Youth Group without a second thought. When it was over, he came home and was off to bed shortly after. As I took a minute to scroll through Facebook, I saw them.

Farmers and ranchers are turning their attention to winter, and while there’s little fieldwork to be done, these quiet months can be instrumental to their 2020 bottom line.

For many people, Australia is a travel destination dream. The country colloquially known as Oz was certainly on this Kansas girl’s bucket list when I applied for a Rotary fellowship for graduate school after getting my degree. So, I was perplexed when locals in the rural Australian town where I eventually moved asked, “Of all the places in the world you could go, why would you want to come here?”

This year will be recorded as one of the most memorable but only as a matter of the degree of difficulty, as farm and ranch families experienced challenges few thought were possible a year ago.

As farmers and ranchers are wrapping up fall harvests and rounding up cattle, Monday is a special day they will be unified with their urban cousins in taking time to remember past and present veterans.

It’s rare that I allow an entertainer to get my goat on an issue. I figure he or she is a citizen, protected by the First Amendment, same as you or me, just with a larger platform and an amplified voice.

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We are sad to announce that longtime Publisher and Editor Holly Martin has accepted a position with the American Angus Association. However, sad as we are, we are also happy for her and her family and proud that a leading association that fights for cattlemen will benefit from Holly’s expertise and passion. With her help we are ready for a new chapter in our history, and we wish her all the best with hers, never forgetting her contributions. Part of that contribution was putting a great …

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Over 25 years ago, I made a call that changed who I am. I was working as reporter for a local Dodge City newspaper, and my former Kansas State University advisor called to check on me and see how I was doing. He had heard of a job opportunity at High Plains Journal and thought I might be interested. I hung up and turned right around and called. When an opportunity to work for one of the leading agriculture publications comes up, you don’t delay.

This week’s edition highlights a partnership we have with companies that help farmers and ranchers to be the most efficient producers in the world.

The other night my husband and I were watching television together and the Burger King commercial for the Impossible Burger came on. I made the remark to him, “If those people think it tastes like a real burger, what kind of crap beef are they eating?”

National Farm Safety and Health Week was recently recognized Sept. 15 to 21 and it comes at time when there is no shortage of rural activities. School and related activities are in full swing and on top of that, fall starts Sept. 23.

The aftermath of the Aug. 6 Tyson Fresh Meats fire that shuttered the Holcomb, Kansas, plant until January 2020 continues to linger in beef country.

Wheat harvest 2019 is just about finished. The crews have a few fields left to cut and preparations are being made to head home. Some will head into fall harvest and acres of soybeans and sorghum. Some will pick up where they left off in late May or early June. They’re shaking off the wheat dust one last time before bidding farewell to our readers.

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As you read this week’s edition of High Plains Journal we share in our appreciation of what farmers and ranchers mean to us and encourage you to take time say thanks to your employees, which is fitting because it is Labor Day.

Another unexpected event hit the heartland as a major fire struck the Tyson Foods beef processing plant in southwest Kansas on Aug. 9.

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“Could you do me a favor?” the woman asked the announcer.

The calendar flipped to August and that means the county fair season is nearing its end and the media is filled with “back-to-school” promotions. Can it already be that time of year particularly in this summer of turbulence?