CANTON — U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall stopped by the Mid Kansas co-op terminal in Canton and Grain Craft Inc. in McPherson Aug. 18 as part of his 2017 Farm Bill Listening Tour. Representatives from MKC, Grain Craft Inc., McPherson Industrial Development Corporation and Hutchinson Community College met with Marshall in McPherson County to share information about each organization and their contributions to agriculture in the area.

“I really want to see what questions you have for us,” Marshall said.

The congressman will use feedback from constituents in the Big First district while crafting the 2018 Farm Bill as a member of the House Agricultural Committee.

During his visit to the Canton terminal, Marshall asked questions about harvest yields, markets and needs of farmers, as MKC represents a wide swath of his district.

“We have 350 employees and more than 8,300 members in 23 counties, so we take into account a big portion of Kansas’ first district,” said Dave Spears, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of MKC. “Every day, our job is to make our customers, our farmers, more successful.”

Representatives explained that elements like good trade policy would beneficial for producers and cooperatives alike.

“The last couple years, the way markets have worked, it that we’ve shipped a large portion of corn and soybeans to Mexico. It’s been a very good boom for local farmers,” said Erik Lange, senior vice president and chief of operations for MKC. “It’s not that farmers didn’t have the luxury of adding their grain to those markets, but since we have a cooperative, we can negotiate prices on their behalf and it puts more dollars in our farmers’ hands.”

Challenges facing those in agriculture include net farm income and encouraging young people to join the industry. MKC currently hosts the Emerging Producer Program held in March each year, which brings younger individuals in agriculture together.

“More than 100 producers and their spouses attend the event where we bring in different experts and keynote speakers on different topics,” said Nichole Gouldie, MKC communications specialist.

Cooperatives like MKC hope to improve outcomes for members by continuing conversations with elected officials.

To give feedback on considerations in the 2018 Farm Bill, contact Marshall’s Salina office at 785-829-9000.

Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at cderksen@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.