Kansas Soybean Expo explores ‘Growing Opportunities’

Soybean enthusiasts gathered Jan. 11 in Topeka for the Kansas Soybean Expo, themed “Kansas Soybeans: Growing Opportunities.” The Kansas Soybean Commission (KSC) and Kansas Soybean Association (KSA) co-sponsor the annual event, which they conduct in conjunction with the Topeka Farm Show at the Kansas Expocentre.

“We had a great turnout, and I’m really happy with how things went,” said KSA Second Vice President Raylen Phelon, Melvern, who chaired the Expo planning committee. “I think a little bit of approaching cold weather helped us because people were willing to spend some time inside to learn about their industry – as far as some things they could do differently and some things they’re doing right – and about policy.”

The opening session featured a “Soybean Update” moderated by Gary Kilgore, Chanute, a Kansas State University (K-State) emeritus professor of agronomy. The presenters were Dave Mengel, Ph.D., a K-State professor of soil fertility and nutrient management, from Manhattan; Bill Schapaugh, Ph.D., a K-State professor, soybean breeder and interim head of the agronomy department, also from Manhattan; and Phil Stahlman, Ph.D., a weed scientist at the K-State Agricultural Research Center in Hays. Mengel shared the latest information about phosphorus and potassium fertilization, Schapaugh explained the yield improvement in soybeans, and Stahlman discussed glyphosate resistance.

The audience also heard policy updates from Ray Gaesser, an American Soybean Association vice president from Corning, Iowa, and Tom Verry, director of outreach and development for the National Biodiesel Board in Jefferson City, Mo.

Loren Kruse, the editor-in-chief of Successful Farming magazine and Agriculture.com from Des Moines, Iowa, presented the keynote address, “12 Attributes I Admire Most in Successful Farmers.” He said successful farmers use decimal points; honestly know themselves; are open-minded and flexible; accept the reality that learning takes forever; take a long, tall view; and make successful mistakes. He continued that they deliberately seek and build friendships away from home; remember who threw them the ball; have fun; grow by storm; choose to be really good at what they do; and brand themselves with a good reputation.

Following his address, Kruse presented his speaking fee to the Kansas 4-H Foundation. Gordon Hibbard of Manhattan, the foundation’s president, was on hand to accept the donation.

The “Voice of the Wildcats,” Wyatt Thompson, director of sportscasting and public relations for K-State Athletics, Manhattan, was the master of ceremonies at the luncheon, where Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman, Topeka, offered a few comments.

The featured speaker during the luncheon was Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Fowler. He delineated some of the key issues that will be part of the upcoming farm-bill debate, including the need for a good crop-insurance program. He said he was glad a farm bill did not come from the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and he was looking forward to a normal debate that includes input from farmers and ranchers.

To kick off the awards and recognitions, KSA President Charles Atkinson, Great Bend, congratulated and thanked KSA District 6 Director Peggy Bellar, Howard, for being the association’s top recruiter. He then presented Stahlman (Manhattan) with the Kansas Soybean Meritorious Service Award.

Retiring KSA District 5 Director John Peterson, Haddam; retiring KSA Chairman Craig Gigstad, Valley Falls; and retiring United Soybean Board Director John Wray, Ottawa, received tokens of thanks for their service to the industry.

Next, KSA First Vice President Terry Reschke, Hiawatha, presented the Friend of Soy award to Kansas Soybean Administrative Assistant Mary Lou Dillman, Topeka. Her nearly 15-year tenure with the association and commission has included not only administrative duties but also youth-education presentations, primarily to third- and fourth-grade classes across the state, earning her the “Soybean Lady” moniker.

Kilgore (Chanute) then announced the district and overall winners in the Kansas Soybean Yield and Quality Contests. Michael Oltjen, Robinson, won the quality contest with a protein and oil value of $11.91 per bushel. Ron Ohlde, Palmer, was the yield contest’s overall dryland winner with 86.1 bushels per acre. Richard Seck, Hutchinson, won the irrigated contest with 88.1 bushels per acre. Complete results and all of the award photos are available via the “Producer Information” tab of the KSC website (www.kansassoybeans.org).

Josh Falk, Robinson, who represented Kansas with his wife, Sarah, in the 2011 DuPont Young Leaders program, introduced Brice and Allison Bunck, Everest, as the 2012 young leaders.

Atkinson (Great Bend) then presided over the KSA Annual Meeting, which included the approval of policy resolutions and the Board of Directors elections. The voting members present re-elected Roger Draeger, Galena, as the District 4 director, and they elected Gary Robbins, Emmett, as the District 5 director. Teresa Brandenburg, Alton, won the contest for an at-large position.

The afternoon session focused on planning for the future as Darrell Holaday, Frankfort, a grain broker with Advanced Market Concepts and Country Futures, presented “Bubble or Boom!!” He said the current challenges were price, slow exports, rationing in the poultry industry, strong domestic demand for corn and the effects of ethanol. He noted overall long-term growth in soybean demand remains strong, yield capability is beginning to grow, South American production still is growing (via increasing yields rather than acreage), and China is the dominant player in the market.

Following a reception for Expo attendees, the KSA Board met to elect officers for 2012, and it re-elected last year’s team: Atkinson (Great Bend), president; Reschke (Hiawatha), first vice president; Phelon (Melvern), second vice president; Dave Slead, Lebo, secretary; and Robbins (Emmett), treasurer.

The Kansas Soybean Commission, headquartered in Topeka, includes nine volunteer farmer-commissioners who oversee investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all Kansas soybean farmers. KSC invests checkoff funds in research, consumer information, market development, industry relations and producer communications to improve the profitability of Kansas soybean farmers.

The Kansas Soybean Association, also headquartered in Topeka, is the voice and advocate for soybean farmers on local, state, national and international issues of importance. Founded in 1973, its advocacy efforts are made possible through the voluntary memberships of more than 400 farmers. It also is the primary contractor to the Kansas Soybean Commission.

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