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K-State crops team sweeps to national title

Kansas Digest: Food tax drops; proposed legislation would expand emergency rural hospital designations; KFB to host campaign training sessions.

Jennifer M. Latzke

December 20, 2023

3 Min Read
Members of K-State's 2023 Crops Judging team
OUTSTANDING: Members of K-State's 2023 crops judging team are (left to right) assistant coaches Sarah Frye and Kevin Donnelly, Molly Kane, Landon Trout, Quinten Bina, Renae Sinclair, Joel Bryan, and head coach Rachel Veenstra. Photo courtesy of Kansas State University Research and Extension News Service

The 2023 Kansas State University crops judging team rolled to another national title as it marked its 100 anniversary this fall. The squad won the Kansas City American Royal Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 14, and the Chicago Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 18.

Renae Sinclair, a junior from Alamosa, Colo., was the overall individual champion, leading a 1-2-3 sweep by K-State. Junior Landon Trout, Scott City, Kan., and sophomore Quinten Bina, Pilsen, Kan., were second and third, respectively. K-State’s national title was powered by first-place finishes in all three judging categories: grain seeding, seed analysis and identification. 

“Such a sweep of all three contest components and the top three individual placings at both contests is very rare, and has only been accomplished four times before, all by K-State,” said Kevin Donnelly, a former head coach who is now an adviser for the team. “This year’s team score was the fifth-highest ever in the Chicago contest.”  

Donnelly added Sinclair’s winning score in Chicago was the third-highest ever recorded in that event, and the best since 1963. Only 19 students have won the Kansas City and Chicago events in the same year — 11 of those are from K-State. Sinclair is the fifth K-State student in the past 10 years to pull off the feat.

Related:Outstanding in their field: K-State Crops Team celebrates a century

Additional K-State team members are junior Molly Kane (Paola, Kan.) and sophomore Joel Bryan (Hiawatha, Kan.). The team is coached by Rachel Veenstra, Sarah Frye and Donnelly.

Axing more taxes

Kansas consumers can expect another drop in the Kansas grocery sales taxes as of Jan. 1.

This is part of the three-year phaseout of the state’s sales tax on groceries that was signed into law in May 2022. The “Axe the Food Tax” legislation dropped the rate from 6.5% to 4% in January 2023. As of Jan. 1, the rate will drop to 2%, with the rate zeroing out in 2025.

This lower rate applies to food, food ingredients and certain prepared foods.

Legislation would expand rural emergency hospital designation

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., introduced the Rural Emergency Hospital Adjustment Act, which would allow closed rural hospitals to potentially reopen and apply for the Rural Emergency Hospital designation if they meet all eligibility requirements between Jan. 1, 2015, and Dec. 27, 2020.

The REH designation, a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, enables certain hospitals to convert to the new Medicare provider designation. This allows them to continue providing limited services, rather than closing. Currently, hospitals are only eligible for the designation if they met the requirements as of Dec. 27, 2020, when the legislation was signed into law.

“Access to outpatient and emergency services often determines if a rural community can survive,” Moran says. “More than 100 rural hospitals have closed since 2015, and this legislation will allow these hospitals an opportunity to reopen and serve their communities.”

Train to mount successful campaigns

Kansas Farm Bureau announced it will offer political campaign training sessions for those interested in holding political offices, potential campaign managers and volunteer leaders.

KFB’s Campaign School will consist of seven mini sessions beginning in January, and a comprehensive two-day training in Wichita, April 17-18.

This nonpartisan, unbiased program offers in-depth instruction from national political experts on topics like strategy, tactics, selecting issues, budgeting, fundraising and identifying voters. The full KFB Campaign School is limited to 20 participants. Farm Bureau members of Kansas can attend for $250, and nonmembers can join for $300.

Mini sessions are condensed opportunities to learn the fundamentals of campaign management skills and cost $50 for KFB members and $75 for nonmembers. Up to 20 participants can take part in each session. They will be offered across the state at the following times and dates:

  • 1 to 5 p.m. Jan. 16, Kansas Chamber Office, Topeka

  • 2 to 6 p.m. Feb. 2, Manhattan Conference Center, Manhattan

  • 1 to 5 p.m. April 10, Overland Park Chamber Office, Overland Park

  • 1 to 5 p.m. May 15, BriefSpace, Hays

  • 1 to 5 p.m. May 16, McPherson Chamber Office, McPherson

  • 1 to 5 p.m. June 11, Pioneer Memorial Library, Colby

  • 1 to 5 p.m. June 26, Allen County Community College Main Building, Iola.

To learn about KFB’s Campaign School or register for any of the upcoming sessions, visit kfb.org.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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