Local, state leaders meet to address challenges with future of agriculture

Published: Apr. 18, 2019 at 7:02 PM CDT
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Representatives from 10 counties, the City of Wichita and State of Kansas came together Thursday to discuss agriculture.

Free trade and the overall struggle of many farmers was at the heart of the meeting, hosted by Cargill in downtown Wichita. The company says its involvement in agriculture keeps it close to issues farmers face and says changes to help them need to happen.

"It's a huge topic," Protein Ingredients and International Channel President John Niemann says of the state's future in agriculture. "Forty percent of the economy in Kansas is tied to agriculture and agriculture is tied to a global system. And we need open and free trade, whether it's for us at Cargill, or most importantly, for farmers. We want to see great prosperity, but it's been tough."

Tariffs on ag products exported from the U.S. have lessened opportunities for producers, both in Kansas and nationwide.

"We need these big markets where there's a lot of people, billions of people that need wheat, that need corn, that need protein," Niemann says. "And we want to be part of that, so it's important that we get it tied up."

Niemann is talking about trade negotiations with other countries like Mexico, Canada and China. It's an area where there has been progress, Congressman Ron Estes says.

"Dairy is better, egg provision is better, poultry provision is better," Estes says. "Intellectual property is safer. Those are the types of things we wanted to make sure happened."

Estes says there's still work to be done.

"Now we have to make sure to get it ratified, get it passed through Congress," he says.