U.S. Representative Kevin Yoder spent time in McPherson recently on a Kansas agricultural tour.

U.S. Representative Kevin Yoder spent time in McPherson recently on a Kansas agricultural tour.

The purpose of the tour was two-fold. First, Yoder, who serves Kansas’ third district, wanted to listen to farmers and ranchers on a first-hand basis.

“Agriculture is such an important part of the Kansas economy and our Kansas heritage,” he said, adding he grew up on a farm. “Part of my role in being a congressman is being sure I’m aware of issues that effect Kansans in the state. Because we’re a smaller state, I believe congressmen should work together to be aware of issues and stand up for Kansas priorities. Getting out and talking to regular farmers is away to really hear from the folks who are out in the field.”

The second purpose of his trip was to become more informed before discussions began on the Farm Bill. The House is preparing to discuss and vote this week on the five-year legislative bundle that sets national agricultural, nutritional, conservation and forestry policy. Yoder is the vice chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and will be part of those discussions.

“As we make farm policy that affects people all across Kansas and the country, I need to be acutely aware of what the priorities are of the agriculture community,” he said.

He mentioned crop insurance, direct payments, conservation programs and livestock protection.

“You can’t effectively consider these amendments without considering the folks that are most effected by them,” he said.

Yoder said he achieved his tour’s goal. Additionally, he came away with a perspective he might not have seen otherwise.

“Most farmers really want to do their part to help cut back the national debt,” he said. “In my experience, very few groups of citizens have ever come before Congress and said, ‘We're willing to give up assistance from the federal government,’ so I think farmers have been the most noble on how we can cut programs.”

During his tour, the most frequent topic discussed was a need to support crop insurance. While the majority of farmers are willing to give up direct payments, crop insurance is a safety net most farmers cannot afford to lose.

“If you’re wiped out by a catastrophe, you could lose you’re entire farm overnight,” Yoder said. “So what I will take forward is that we want to do what we can to help farmers manage the risk they’re willing to expend in order to put food on the table for hundreds of millions of Americans. These are good, hardworking, honest folks who aren’t asking for much, but we need to ensure that when they take risk they have the support to do so from the country.”

As part of the tour, the congressman stopped in Sedgwick, Pratt, Haviland, Greensburg and Garden City. His final stop was in rural McPherson County on the farm of Derek and Katie Sawyer, who live between McPherson and Inman.

Yoder said what stuck out to him on this visit was their sub-surface irrigation, as he had never seen it before.

“I thought it was great,” Yoder said. “It’s obviously very expensive and a risk for farmers to invest. They have an eye for innovation and efficiency.”

Contact Jenae Pauls at jpauls@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel.