PCCA announces year-end distributions to grower-owners

LUBBOCK, Texas – At its 66th Annual Meeting, Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Cooperative Association announced fiscal year-end further cash distribution to its grower-owners of $21.59 million.

The distribution, to be completed this month, consists of $9.16 million in cash dividends and $12.43 million in stock retirements and base capital plan retirements.

As of June 30, PCCA’s Warehouse Division had received 1.442 million bales, one of the division’s top five largest crops in its history.

PCCA President and CEO Kevin Brinkley reported the co-op’s achievements despite difficult challenges during the fiscal year, including “an exceptional drought and rapidly escalating trade war combined to create an unprecedented level of uncertainty in the cotton market.”

“We are coming to terms with the fact that China, which uses one of every three bales in the world, may no longer be a reliable market for U.S. cotton; therefore, we are adapting our business and risks models to this new era along with continuing to develop new marketing solutions for the future,” he said.

In other business during the annual meeting, PCCA grower-owners re-elected directors Kody Carson, District 2; Dean Vardeman, District 6; and Dahlen Hancock, District 7.

Clint Abernathy was elected director from District 1 to replace retiring director Robert Robbins.

Founded in 1953, PCCA is a marketing cooperative owned by farmers in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico dedicated to supplying sustainably-grown, high-quality cotton fiber around the world.

In addition to marketing, PCCA owns cotton warehouse facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas and develops and offers software programs and networks to local co-op gins.

Organic Certification Cost Share Program accepting applications

MANHATTAN – The Kansas Department of Agriculture has funds available for the national Organic Certification Cost Share Program.

Through the program, farms, ranches, and businesses that produce, process or package certified organic agricultural products might be reimbursed for eligible expenses.

The purpose of the OCCSP is to defray the costs of receiving and maintaining organic certification under the National Organic Program. The program allows state agencies to provide reimbursement to certified organic operators for up to 75% of the operation’s total allowable certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope.

Scopes include the areas of crops, livestock, wild crops and handling. The USDA Farm Service Agency administers two organic certification cost-share programs and awards the OCCSP funds to eligible state agencies that serve as administering entities who work directly with organic operations to reimburse certification costs.

The current qualification period for organic operations seeking reimbursements is Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 15 or until all funds are expended, whichever comes first.

KDA is committed to serving all Kansas farmers, including lending support to those who wish to market and sell their products as certified organic.

For more information, go to the KDA website at agriculture.ks.gov/organic or contact KDA economist Peter Oppelt at peter.oppelt@ks.gov or 785-564-6726.

Kids Gardening grant period open

The 2020 Youth Garden Grant has opened. Since 1982, the grant has supported youth garden projects that enhance the quality of life for kids and their communities.

Any nonprofit organization, public or private school, or youth program in the U.S. or U.S. Territories planning a new garden program or expanding an established one that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3 and 18 is eligible to apply.

Twenty-five programs will be awarded. The selection of winners is based on demonstrated program impact and sustainability.

Learn more about the prize packages and how to apply for a grant at https://kidsgardening.org/

Applications are due Dec.16. Winners will be announced Jan. 31, 2020.

KRC opens search for executive director

The Kansas Rural Center Board of Directors announced a search for a new Executive Director, following director Mary Fund’s early September announcement she plans to retire by the end of the year.

The Kansas Rural Center (KRC) is a nonprofit research, education and advocacy organization promoting a sustainable agriculture and food system. Since 1979, it has worked to strengthen independent family farms and rural communities.

KRC strives to increase ecological farming opportunities that protect the environment and natural resource base while providing farmers a fair livelihood.

In recent years, KRC has expanded its vision to include local and regional food systems and areas of economic development, including renewable energy systems and specialty crop farming.

KRC envisions a new social contract that enhances the partnership between rural and urban people, emphasizing appropriately sized, environmentally sound food systems and natural resource stewardship that benefits all citizens.

For 40 years, KRC has been the voice for alternative and sustainable agriculture and food systems in Kansas, responding to issues such soil health, pesticide use, pollinators, enterprise diversity, economic concentration, community vitality, beginning farmer issues, climate change, and the direction of federal and state farm and food policy.

The Executive Director is responsible for overall programmatic, personnel, administrative and financial matters of the organization. He/she is also the public face and spokesperson for the organization. The Executive Director works closely with the employed and contracted staff to carry out programming commitments, goals and objectives. He/she works with the Board of Directors to fund the organization, develop and set policies and issue positions, and lead the programmatic direction of KRC.

The Executive Director must share the philosophical concerns and positions of the Kansas Rural Center and support its mission.

The director will work from a home office.

For questions or further information contact Stu Shafer, at sandheron@icloud.com or 785-691-5006

To apply, send a letter of interest, resume, and two writing samples electronically to jobs@kansasruralcenter.org

Applications will be accepted until Oct. 30.

Farmland buyer/seller mixer set

Many retiring farmers do not have a family successor in mind, while finding affordable available farmland or opportunities is the beginning farmers’ biggest challenge.

Kansas Rural Center often receives calls from people looking for someone to take over their farm or ranch, lease it from them, or buy it. Sometimes it also hears from those seeking a farm or land to purchase or lease, or for an opportunity to work with a farmer as they gain some experience.

The common theme is that they all share similar values. They want the farm to go to someone who will care about place and care for the land as they have; or they are looking for a farming opportunity where they can put into practice sustainable, regenerative, or organic practices, or raise specialty crops with local and regional marketing options in mind.

At the KRC fall conference, a workshop bringing these two groups together will be offered from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 8.

Participation will require a separate registration from the conference overall, and it is open to non-conference goers at no charge. Only those who pre-registered for the workshop will be allowed to attend.

The Mixer is a pilot effort or experiment, and a first step to help landowners and seekers identify each other and better understand the challenges and opportunities they encounter.

To register for the Farm Owner and Farm Seeker workshop: Land/Farm Owners go to http://hutch.news/FarmOwners, while seekers may go to http://hutch.news/FarmSeekers

For more information or questions, contact Mary Fund at mfund@kansasruralcenter.org.

Water Technology Farm Interest for 2020 Growing Season

Water Technology Farms are an action item of the Long-Term Vision for the Future of Water Supply in Kansas to help address Kansas water issues.

The Kansas Water Office (KWO) program began four years ago with three farms, and currently there are 15 farms on more than 40 fields throughout the state but concentrated overlying the High Plains Aquifer.

The KWO plans to add a limited number of new technology farms and is currently accepting initial notice of interest for the 2020 growing season. The deadline for initial interest is Nov. 15.

These three-year pilot public-private partnerships demonstrate irrigation technology, research and management techniques. They have been valuable in expanding the conversation and education of producers and decision-makers on water conservation in areas overlying the depleting Ogallala Aquifer and water quality protection in the Equus Beds Aquifer region.

Water Technology Farms are eligible statewide. Farms in a Water Conservation Area or a Local Enhanced Management Area as well as other documented conservation programs will be prioritized for consideration. Access to land as well as data records is required as part of this effort.

Visit http://www.kwo.ks.govto learn about the existing farms and past results.

Those interested or wanting more information should contact Armando Zarco, KWO Water Resource Planner at (620) 765-7485.