Kansas Farm Bureau event to focus on public policy issues of importance to agriculture

More than 1,000 farmers are expected to gather in Manhattan next week to layout the roadmap for public policy issues the Kansas Farm Bureau members consider of importance to agriculture.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman will be among the featured speakers at the two-day event, which begins Monday. Farm lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher will also give a presentation.

Workshop topics include succession planning, advocating for agriculture, the 2014 farm bill, and water and agriculture technology.

Kansas rancher and blogger Debbie Lyons-Bythe, America's Farmers Mom of the Year for 2012, is slated to speak about her experience in telling the story of agriculture.

This year's convention marks the end of the long tenure of retiring Kansas Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus. The Ottawa County farmer has led the state farm group for more than 12 years.

A celebration of his service will be held at Monday evening's banquet, which will be attended by Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Pat Roberts.

"We've enjoyed tremendous success under Steve's leadership," Terry Holdren, chief executive officer and general counsel for the group said in an email. "We're looking forward to celebrating Steve and his wife, Patricia, Monday evening, and we look forward to future success in the organization. Steve has created a strong foundation. Our members, board of directors and staff appreciate his hard work and leadership."

Baccus is credited with farm policy wins in Washington, D.C., and Topeka on issues such as taxes, water, eminent domain, property rights and rural development. Under his leadership, the organization contends it has achieved financial stability through the 2001 sale of its life insurance company and the 2003 merger of the Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Kansas with the Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company. He has led trade missions around the globe.

The convention caps off on Tuesday with the election of a new president to replace Baccus. Candidates for the post include Rich Felts, the group's vice president, from Liberty; George Pretz, a board member from Paola; and Jim Sipes, a board member from Manter.