Kansas Farm Bureau’s (KFB) biggest strength is its grassroots policy process that ensures policy undergoes at least a year’s worth of research and debate before it’s enshrined in KFB’s policy book. This book serves as a blueprint for the advocacy work of state staff in the Kansas Legislature and beyond. Here are five ways Kansas Farm Bureau turned member-driven policy into action to improve farming, ranching and rural living during the 2022 session in Topeka:
Pasture Tax Fix
KFB successfully supported a policy change in how pastureland enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands are classified for Kansas property tax purposes. Without this fix, land that has always been in pasture and then enrolled in the CRP was subject to being classified as higher-value dryland farm ground for property tax purposes.
Expansion of Rural Veterinary Program
KFB supported legislation that will expand the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas, addressing a shortage of veterinarians across the state. The legislation will allow more flexibility in where Kansas State University graduates can establish a practice and receive up to $25,000 per year in student loan forgiveness. The law also adds flexibility to increase the number of recipients beyond the maximum of five if funding is available.
Funding for Rural Housing
Kansas Farm Bureau was one of nearly two dozen organizations that successfully lobbied for an investment in rural housing of more than $100 million. The money will come from the state’s extraordinary budget surplus and unspent federal COVID-19 relief funding. Included in the spending package is $40 million to spur moderate-income housing programs and more than $60 million targeted to rural housing projects and authorization for tax credits to incentivize investments. For more on the need for rural housing, go here.
Fencing Tax Exemption
KFB successfully testified in support of a law change that exempts from adding sales taxes to fencing supplies and services to repair fencing damaged or destroyed by natural disasters including wildfires. Additionally, the bill makes those exemptions permanent for all farmers and ranchers beginning July 1. The change means the state will treat fencing supplies and services as the business inputs they are.
Kansas Farm Bureau staff testified against proposed legislation that would have consolidated the state’s water regulatory agencies because it would have increased government bureaucracy and consolidated enormous power under the control of a single political appointee, in addition to other measures that go against KFB’s policy. While the proposal was ultimately unsuccessful, it has prompted a review of KFB policy on water issues with several upcoming sessions devoted to reviewing existing guidelines and exploring new plans.
Look for events this fall in your KFB district called “Listening Posts.” These events give members an opportunity to review and provide input on tentative resolutions brought to KFB’s Resolution Committee. Finalized resolutions will be brought to voting delegates at KFB’s Annual Meeting Dec. 3-5 in Manhattan. Members can submit policy recommendations throughout the year via this online issue surfacing form. To learn more about KFB’s policy process, go here. You can also signup for legislative updates during the session and to receive action alerts on issues critical to agriculture here.
KFB also provides its Policy Engagement Series webinars on various topics to keep members informed and up to date on issues important for farmers and ranchers. Farm Bureau members in Kansas can view previous installments here.
Be sure to sign up for enews, where announcements for these meetings will appear.