PHOTO: Jack Woods (left), vice president and branch manager of Centera Bank in Minneola, reviews financial records with a client, Mark Wideman.
Agricultural producers depend on timely rainfall to grow the crops needed to help feed the nation and the world. But the rainfall didn’t come to Kansas in the 2012 growing season — not nearly enough.
Drought, combined with searing summer heat, forced difficult choices on Kansas farms and ranches — whether to sell off cattle because of a lack of forage, whether to plant seed into parched soil, hoping the rain will come, and whether it’s cost effective to control weeds, given a sparse crop.
K-State Research and Extension specialists and county and district agents across the state responded by producing publications and videos, writing newspaper and newsletter articles, doing radio interviews, developing a drought resources Web page (www.ksre.ksu.edu/drought) and presenting programs on managing agricultural enterprises in drought conditions, including options for the upcoming growing season.
In her role as the agriculture and natural resources agent in Ford County, Andrea Burns considers helping farmers and ranchers learn about research-based options all in a day’s work.
Like agents across the state, Burns, who is a member of the Ford County Local Emergency Preparedness Committee, wrote articles with a focus on drought and precautions Kansans should take for her county’s newsletter and local media. She also worked with representatives of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency to document conditions in the county in preparation for disaster designation.
But Ford County is just one of many dealing with drought. Every one of Kansas’ 105 counties was declared a federal disaster area by the USDA in 2012.
“In response to the questions we were getting, the agriculture and natural resource agents from Ford, Gray, Hodgeman, and Edwards counties worked together to host a ‘Dealing With Drought’ meeting in Dodge City,” Burns said.
The meeting drew attendees from six counties, including producers from large and small operations, as well as bankers and government officials.
Agents in Wildcat and Southwind districts hosted a similar meeting for southeast Kansas producers and bankers in Parsons.
“This meeting was put together to give producers and others a chance to sit down and have conversations about their situations and options,” she said. “The agents and specialists worked together to get the latest research-based information to them in order to help them decide if and how it would work for their particular operation.”
“This drought has been detrimental to our producers — we’ve raised fewer crops and have had to liquidate some herds,” said Jack Woods, vice president and branch manager of Centera Bank in Minneola, who attended the meeting. “It’s reduced customers’ incomes and will impact agricultural operations for years to come.”
Meetings such as the one hosted in Dodge City are important to keep farmers, ranchers, and related businesses aware of current conditions and research-based options, said Woods, whose bank makes agricultural loans and small business loans to businesses that also deal with farmers. The Minneola branch is one of five branch offices in southwest Kansas.
“These kinds of programs are important so that we, as farmers and lenders, know what we’re dealing with now and in the future,” Woods added.
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