COLUMBUS, Kan. — When it comes to food and how it’s produced, many consumers and agricultural producers alike are passionate about agricultural issues. These subjects affect a producer’s way of life and the consumer’s food supply. Some topics such as feeding antibiotics to livestock, humane handling of livestock and genetically modified crops are controversial.

The problem stemming from these issues may be a lack of communication or misinformation between the producer growing the food and the consumer eating it, according to Dale Helwig, agriculture agent with K-State Research and Extension in Cherokee County. To foster a better understanding of these and other topics, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee will host a Rural Agricultural Expo on Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Cherokee County 4-H Building located at 124 W. Country Road in Columbus, Kansas. The event is open to anyone interested in learning more about how crops are grown and livestock is raised.

Kansas State University veterinarian, Mike Apley will discuss a recent ruling by the Food and Drug Administration that requires livestock producers to obtain a Veterinary Feed Directive before administering antibiotics to livestock through their feed. The directive has posed some hardship to producers, feed companies and veterinarians but consumers also want to know that their food is safe to eat. Apley, who was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in 2015, will address the current status of the VFD regulation and how judicious use of antibiotics can be safe for consumers and beneficial for livestock producers.

Many consumers are concerned about producers using genetically modified (also called GMO) crops. One that has received attention this year is a variety of soybeans that is now tolerant of the chemical, dicamba. Dicamba is a broadleaf weed killer that is detrimental to soybeans; however, this new variety of soybeans can withstand the chemical—great news for producers as it provides them with another alternative for weed control in their fields, but consumers wonder if the new GMO crops are safe to consume. Harold Trick, professor of plant pathology at Kansas State University, will provide the facts about GMOs and the work being done with them.

Animal welfare is another hot button topic, Helwig said. Through years of research and improvement, advances have been made in how livestock are handled. One of the newest methods of reducing stress to an animal is the use of a Bud Box System. Reducing stress for the animals improves animal performance, prevents bruising of meat, and improves the health of the animal. Matt Perrier, owner of Dalebanks Angus and advocate of reduced stress handling of livestock, will conduct a live demonstration of the ease and simplicity in which cattle work through the Bud Box system. He will discuss how to make working with animals a more pleasant experience for both the cattle and cattle handler.

Other sessions at the expo include Lucas Nodine discussing Long Term Care and How to Protect Your Assets in the later years of life. Farmers Coop will present Fall Herbicide Options for Producers and Fall Calf Crop Feeding Strategies.

The day will end with the Cherokee County Beekeepers Association giving the Buzz on Bees. Beehive numbers have decreased since 1950, Helwig said.

Protecting our pollinators has become important but managing beehives can be tricky because of pests, diseases, and the use of insecticides. This workshop will be a great opportunity to learn more about this popular pastime.

Multiple vendors will have exhibits at the event.

More information about the Rural Agricultural Expo is available by contacting Helwig at the Cherokee County K-State Research and Extension Office at 620-429-3849.