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KDA: COVID-19 aid, vaccines needed for farmers to stay afloat

Alice Mannette
The Hutchinson News
Kansas Department of Agriculture

During a Kansas Department of Agriculture meeting at the end of December, Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam said the USDA revised their 2020 projections and are estimating U.S. net farm income will increase nearly $120 billion due to COVID-19 aid. The projections are based on direct payments to producers, which totaled approximately $46.5 billion.

“2020 Kansans’ net farm income will most likely be less rosy than the nationwide projections,” Beam said.

KDA helped administer the Securing Local Food Systems Grant Program Securing Local Foods Grant to slightly less than 260 grantees. This action helped these grantees stay afloat during the pandemic.

And because many ag workers are considered crucial to food production, Beam is hoping to recognize food and agricultural workers as critical and essential when prioritizing the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are submitting data this week to KDHE for their consideration in establishing the rollout of the vaccine following health care workers and those who work/reside in long-term care facilities,” he said.

Grains

Because of increased costs, the administration is hoping to implement a fee schedule for licensed grain warehouses. KDA, along with representatives in the Kansas grain industry, will put together a new fee schedule that resembles the federal fee schedule and generates approximately $120,000 more in fee revenue annually.

Feral pigs

Beam said feral pigs remain a problem in the state. Although these pigs are an issue in the Sunflower State, he estimates Kansas has about 1,000, Missouri harbors more than 40,000 of these animals.  

“In 2020, the USDA team has removed nearly 500 feral pigs in the state,” Beam said. “The hot spot is in Bourbon and Linn Counties and along the Oklahoma-Kansas border in the eastern 1/3 of the state.”