Article reprinted with permission from Midwest Messenger.
Written by Amy Hadachek
Immersed in agriculture, continuing to share the important work of farmers and ranchers, and incorporating fun events into their non-profit organization projects, the new Kansas Agri-Women Board of Officers is sharing inspirational goals for the year ahead.
“Our goal is to keep people informed about where their daily food comes from, and realizing the hard work and sacrifices that farmers put into food to feed the people of the world,” Kansas Agri-Women President Lisa Nichols said.
A new slate of officers continues supporting their popular flagship project, the eye-catching highway signs with the wording, “1 Kansas Farmer Feeds 155 People + You!” placed over an image of a brown paper grocery bag filled with fruits, vegetables, milk and bread.
Although Kansas Agri-Women lost founding member Jeanne Mertz in 2017 – the woman behind the highway sign project, the Jeanne Mertz Memorial Fund has been designated to renovate the sign project and help its sponsors put a new face on many signs across Kansas.
President Nichols enjoys helping her husband farm and raise their polled Herefords and Angus-Hereford cross cattle cow-calf herd. They also have two children, and their son farms with them. Nichols and her two sisters are the sixth generation to have grown up on their family farm. She knows the challenges of farming.
“I would really like to have the price of grains and all other commodities be able to keep the prices up where farmers could make a profit sometimes,” Nichols said.
Kansas Agri-Women Vice President Jerilyn Longren, just elected to a two-year term, is a fourth generation farmer. She grew up on a farm outside of Manhattan, Kansas. Although she and her husband Jared Longren currently live off the farm while Jared is active duty Air Force, they help her parents on their farm in Morris County near Dwight with cattle and putting up hay.
Longren is passionate about supporting the work farmers and ranchers do.
“We have the greatest agriculture in the world, and it should be celebrated,” she said. “Our farmers and ranchers produce safe, healthy and wholesome food for our entire country, and beyond.”
Wanda Kinney serves as the treasurer of Kansas Agri-Women, and is a past president of the organization.
Also a registered lobbyist for the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association for nearly three years, Kinney said she would like for members to be more aggressive in projects such as their committee that installs those highway signs about how farmers feed the world.
She is also intent on consumer education, noting, “If we don’t produce, you may not eat.”
“Actually, most consumers have no real idea how long it takes to get that hamburger in the meat case at the supermarket, from birth of the animal to the producer-packer to the wrapped great and safe product for them to enjoy for a meal,” she said.
Kinney grew up on a small farm with a few dairy cows and hogs. As a sixth generation farm family, the Kinneys raise beef cattle, corn, soybeans and hay – both native grass and brome – and they have pasture. Kinney also raises a flock of laying hens and sells their eggs.
The family farm was homesteaded in 1861 and by continually grazing, Kinney says it’s the only viable way to pay taxes on that ground.
She’s proud to help feed the world.
The fourth new board member, Secretary Barbara Roux of Moundridge, Kansas, helps raise the family’s shorthorn beef cattle breed and energetically works to “get the word out.”
“I have promoted ag through FFA, county and state fair, and other ag projects for many years,” Roux said, emphasizing that people in agriculture must keep promoting their products and in environmentally friendly ways.
She and her husband Norman own and operate Roux Shorthorns in partnership with son Dwayne Roux and also their granddaughter, Kacy Anderson, who’s using herd animals for her 4-H/FFA project and showing in Red Willow County, Nebraska.
The Roux family previously commercially trucked livestock for 52 years. Roux grew up on a farm with Shorthorn livestock, and has owned Shorthorns for 72 years.
One concern of Roux’s is that being near a large metropolitan area brings problems in managing the encroachment of housing into prime farmland.
“Urban and ag need to work together to preserve our declining water supply and protect the environment from excess fertilizer that runs into streams interfering with safe above-ground water supplies,” she said.
In addition to advocating for agriculture, the non-profit Kansas Agri-Women provides professional and leadership development opportunities through affiliation with American Agri-Women, the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agri-business women.
They also tour many interesting ag-related operations and businesses around the state. Anyone is welcome to join.