Productive Kansas farmers still play a large role in feeding the hungry around the world

Producing food has been the single most important vocation in human history. Without question, farming and ranching have helped pave the way for modern civilization.

Today as in the past, feeding the world is vital to our growth as a community, region, state and nation. Our ability to produce the safest, most wholesome food in the world has allowed us to progress as a civilization.

When we think of food production, our state and the farmers and ranchers who farm our fertile soil rank with the best in production agriculture. The Sunflower State ranks at the top when it comes to crop and livestock production.

In 2005, Kansas farmers ranked seventh among the 50 states as an exporter of agricultural products, according to Eldon Thiessen, Kansas Agricultural Statistics. Exports from five out of the top 10 states increased. Kansas accounted for 4.4 percent of the U.S. agricultural exports in 2005.

The total value of Kansas exports-$2.8 billon-was down 16 percent from the previous fiscal year. Most of the value decrease come from wheat and products and live animals and meat.

Still, Kansas ranked first in the United States for wheat and products and feed and fodders. The export numbers show Kansas ranked second in hides and skins and animal fats.

Other top 10 rankings for Kansas included sunflower seed and oil-third place with $16.1 million. Seed ranked fourth place with $51.7 million, while live animals and meat came in sixth with $238.5 million. Feed grains and products totaled $496.7 million to rank sixth and soybean and products ranked tenth with $302.1 million.

Wheat and wheat products accounted for 27 percent of this state’s total and 13 percent of the national wheat and wheat products exports. The dollar figure for wheat and wheat products exports totaled $744.4 million.

Feed grains and feed grain products comprised 18 percent of the total Kansas exports and 7 percent of all U.S. feed grains and feed grain products exported. Feed and fodders tallied 14 and 18 percent of the Kansas and national exports.

U.S. exports totaled $62.4 billion for agricultural commodities last year. This amount remains virtually unchanged from 2004.

California continued to lead the nation in agricultural exports at $10.2 billion, Iowa ranked second, followed by Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Washington, North Dakota and Indiana.

This holiday season those who live in Kansas have plenty to be thankful for. Kansas remains one of the most diversified states in the nation.

In addition to the staples including wheat, corn, beans, milo and beef, Kansas farmers and ranchers also produce dry edible beans, oats, corn silage, rye and barley. Specialty crops like pecans, fruits, vegetables and popcorn are produced in our rich Kansas soil.

Farmers and ranchers in Kansas also raise sheep, chickens, buffalo, ostriches and a few other exotic creatures.

Kansas is blessed with some of the finest farmland and farmers and ranchers in the world. By using this land wisely, with the help of the latest technology and research, we will continue to feed the hungry mouths of the world.

John Schlageck has been writing about farming and ranching in Kansas for more than 25 years. He is the managing editor of “Kansas Living,” a quarterly magazine dedicated to agriculture and rural life in Kansas.

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