Agriculture is the largest economic driver in Kansas. Valued at more than $65 billion, agriculture accounts for 43 percent of the state’s total economy. But today, Kansas farmers are facing challenges that threaten the future of agriculture in Kansas, challenges such as tariffs, consolidation within the ag industry and the decreasing number of family farms.

In 2018, 35 Kansas farmers filed for bankruptcy, according to the American Farm Bureau Association, the second-highest rate in the U.S. next to New York. What is to become of agriculture in Kansas?

A forum will address this topic at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Arkansas City Treatment Plant, 400 W. Madison Ave. It is free and open to the public.

The forum will feature three Kansas long-time farmers. Donn Teske, a fifth-generation farmer from Pottawatomie County, has been fighting for the rights of farmers for 17 years as the president of the Kansas Farmers Union. He will look back at the early successes that the Kansas Farmers Union has accomplished in the state and how the union and the power of the vote can help protect the future of Kansas farmers. 

Donna Martin’s family has been farming in Cowley County since Kansas became a state.  After being a part of many economic development groups, she decided to build the Turkey Roost in order to utilize and market the area's unique Flint Hills’ creative talents. She will focus on agra-business.

Mark Pringle, also a long-time farmer from Yates Center, will address the role politics can have in sustaining agriculture. He ran for State Senate in District 14 in 2016.

“I’m a farmer myself,” said Mike Morton, chair of the Cowley County Democrats. “Seeing more and more family farms fail is heartbreaking. I hope everyone in our state, no matter what party affiliation, can come together to address these challenges facing agriculture today as it benefits us all. This forum is meant to be a start in that conversation.”

The event is sponsored by the Cowley County Democrats.

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