Kansas wheat commission OKs assessment increase

The Kansas Wheat Commission has approved an increase to the wheat assessment, meaning that beginning Jan. 1, farmers will have a 1.5-cent per-bushel wheat ?assess?ment? at the first point of sale.

This is an increase of one-half-cent per bushel over the one-cent per bushel assessment, in place since 1996.

Although not required by state statute, the KWC is providing a comment period until Sept. 7. Wheat producers may call the KWC office at 1-866-75-WHEAT or e-mail kswheat@kswheat.com or send comments by mail to: Kansas Wheat Office, 217 Southwind Place, Manhattan, KS 66503.

The Kansas Legislature approved an assessment authority increase?from 10 mills, to 20 mills?during the 2008 legislative session. The actual assessment increase will be from 10 mills to 15 mills?or from one penny, to one-and-a-half pennies, per bushel.

The assessment could generate an additional $1.2 to $1.4 million per year, depending upon the size of the annual wheat crop. KWC is charged by state statute to use assessment investments for research, promotion and educational efforts.

?This money will primarily be used to enhance research and development for wheat,? said Dusti Fritz, chief executive officer for Kansas Wheat, the cooperative agreement between the KWC and the Kansas Associa?tion of Wheat Growers.

?Research, including developing new varieties and incorporating new traits into wheat varieties, gives farmers more bang for their buck.?

For the past year, KWC and KAWG have solicited input from farmers on the potential assessment authority increase. In a survey conducted last fall, farmers indicated research was a top priority for their investment.

KWC chairman Dean Stoskopf, Hoisington, said the wheat assessment has not changed in 12 years, but KWC?s costs have increased dramatically. Meanwhile, state and federal support for wheat research has diminished drastically.

?Our state?s farmers stand ready to make the necessary commitment to ensure our research efforts continue and that they are innovative,? Stoskopf said.

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