agriculture

On a western Kansas tour this week, U.S. Congressman Roger Marshall touted progress on a new proposal that would let more immigrants come into the country on guest visas to work on farms, in meat-packing plants and other agricultural jobs.

A bill introduced in the U.S. House in July would provide a temporary guest worker visa — known as the H-2C — for year-round agricultural work. Its co-sponsors include Marshall and fellow Kansas Republicans, Lynn Jenkins and Ron Estes.

Kansas is taking the lead on a project aimed at tracking cattle disease with the hopes of protecting the U.S. beef industry.

Thursday had all the makings of deja vu for the U.S. House’s farm bill draft: immigration concerns, uncertain Republican votes and a wall of Democratic opposition to changes in the main federal food aid program.

In the end, the chamber avoided a repeat of May’s failure, when members of the conservative Freedom Caucus wanted to deal with immigration first. But the farm bill passed Thursday — narrowly, 213-211. Still, 20 Republicans voted against it, as did every Democrat in the chamber.

marshall.house.gov

Kansas Republican Rep. Roger Marshall says that despite the Farm Bill failing to pass in the House last week, he still expects it to pass.

No Democrats voted for the bill, and the Freedom Caucus, a small group of conservative Republicans, also withdrew their support until after immigration is discussed.

Marshall is on the House Agriculture committee. He says there are no plans to win over Democrats by backtracking on stricter work requirements for federal food aid.

Employers can force workers to settle disputes outside of court, the U.S. Supreme Court said this week, which could negatively affect agricultural workers and employees who earn low wages.

Flying east to west over Kansas, the land transforms from lush green to desert brown. Rectangular farm plots fill in with emerald circles, the work of center-pivot irrigation.

Outside Garden City, in the middle of one of those circles, Dwane Roth scoops up soil to reveal an inconspicuous PVC pipe. It’s a soil moisture probe that tells Roth exactly how much water his crops need. The device is one of many new technologies designed to help farmers make the most of every drop.

“All that you have to do is open up your app,” said Roth. “It’s going to tell you, you don’t need to irrigate or you’re going to need to apply an inch within  six days.”

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Industrial hemp is coming to Kansas, but first the Department of Agriculture has to figure out how to regulate it.

Tyson Foods Inc.

For about 10 years Laura Krier has lived in Concordia, Kansas, a small town that she’s seen get only smaller.

Without some kind of economic development, she fears things it will only get worse.

Courtesy of USDA

China has announced its intent to add additional tariffs to 106 U.S. products, including several of Kansas’ top agricultural exports.

Derek Gavey / flickr Creative Commons

Meant to fund the federal government through early September, the $1.3 trillion bill signed by President Donald Trump last week also includes money and changes for ag-related programs beyond the “grain-glitch” fix.

Some notable highlights include:

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