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High grain prices seen as best aid for rural economy 50 years ago

A penny more per bushel for wheat had a $2 million impact on the rural economy in 1969.

Jacky Goerzen

February 11, 2019

2 Min Read
combine in wheat field
BEST AID: 50 years ago, the contention was that the best route for rural development is better grain prices. Most farmers agree it’s as true today as it was in 1969.

The wisdom of 50 years ago in March of 1969 was that the best aid to the rural economy would be better prices. Ray Eehling of Ness City was president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers that year. He pointed out that an increase of 50 cents per bushel on wheat would do more good for rural development than industrial revenue bonds, which he argued made the situation worse by increasing property taxes.

A dollar to the wheat producer generated $4 in business in the community, he said, and a mere penny per bushel had an impact of $2 million on the Kansas economy. Hmm. Some things haven’t changed in 50 years.

75 years ago
World War II had taken thousands of farmers away from their crops in 1944, leaving women and children to handle the job of raising the food so badly needed by military and civilians alike. More than 20,000 Kansas women were working on farms, with 85% of them operating heavy machinery. High school students helped with the sorghum harvest and in fruit and truck gardens. Kansas leaders, including Sen. Arthur Capper, pleaded with the Selective Service to realize that workers for factories and farms were needed at home even as they acknowledged the need for troops on the battlefield.

55 years ago
Three Kansas State University scientists had been granted $25,000 to conduct research to learn what caused dangerous levels of nitrates to build up in grain crops during drought years. The grant covered three years of work to determine the physiology that caused soil nitrates to build become incorporated in the vegetation of corn, wheat, oats and sorghum as nitrates and poison the livestock that ate them.

35 years ago
Farmers as well as state officials were realizing the values of small watershed structures in collecting rainfall and storing the water for later use. Farmers said lack of money was the main thing holding back the construction of more watershed dams and treatment plants to purify the water for distribution.

20 years ago
Expanded field tests of a soy-based antifungal seed treatment were underway at the Columbus unit of the Southeast Agricultural Research Center to determine if the treatment would stop charcoal rot. Pittsburg State University biologist Nancy Brooker was in charge of the project, which was funded with soybean checkoff dollars.

Goerzen is Executive Director of Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita.

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