Ag leaders meet in Manhattan to promote industry growth

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – A group of Kansas agriculture leaders met Thursday in Manhattan to discuss ways to ensure the industry is strong.

Agriculture is Kansas’ largest industry, totaling 42 percent of the state’s economy.

The Kansas Governor’s Summit on Agriculture Growth, held by the State Department of Agriculture, drew in a crowd of 400 people from across the state.

“We have a wide variety of individuals here and it’s a great networking opportunity,” said farmer Glenn Brunkow. “It’s also an opportunity to plan out the future of Kansas agriculture.”

Brunkow grows corn, soybeans, and hay, as well as raises sheep and cattle. He attended the summit for the opportunity to have a say in the future of the agriculture industries he is involved with.

“The ag economy is probably the worst it’s been in 20 or 30 years,” Brunkow said. “It’s really difficult. Our commodity prices are down. That means we have to be a lot more smart about what we do in agriculture, control our cost, control our prices, employee the latest technology also. That’s the biggest change I see is the advancements in technology in agriculture.”

The State Department of Agriculture broke down the industry into 19 sectors, each meeting separately to specifically focus on enhancing that sector. This includes grains and livestock, as well as pet food, animal health research, and farm equipment.

“If one group wins we all win, and that’s a good statement,” said Dale Fjell, director of research and stewardship for the Kansas Corn Growers Association. “We’re really in this together.”

Legislators and cabinet members also attended the summit. It is important to have people in power-aware of the issues agriculture is facing, according to Fjell.

“I really appreciate when they do come, that means they are genuinely interested and they’re trying to represent their constituents,” Fjell said.

Greg Ibach, the undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was also in attendance. He highlighted the importance of trade, and how the Trump administration is trying to help farmers.

Additional topics such as hemp, drones, and rural broadband were also discussed at the summit.

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