Nov/Dec Kansas Farmers Union President’s Report

12 11 2010

By Donn Teske

The Poppers

Lauren asked me to say a few words in my presidents’ report about why I decided to invite the Poppers to our state convention. That was a good question.

Frank and Deborah Popper wrote a paper in 1987 titled the Buffalo Commons and immediately became villains in the eyes of those of us whose states were addressed in the paper.

The paper looks ahead from the trends of rural depopulation on the high plains and the drying up of the Ogallala aquifer and proposes creating a national park covering a good part of the area. Their proposal would be to restock the plains as it was before the invasion of settlers and that the park would provide niche income for those remaining in the area.

I’ve had the opportunity over the years to get to know the Poppers and surprisingly to me they were not the devils I expected, but very thoughtful, very respective, and very likable. They never thought that the little paper they wrote would ever hardly even be read outside academia, much less create the controversy that it has.

A few years back the Poppers spoke at K-State. The man who introduced them was Mike Hayden. Governor Hayden was the governor of Kansas when the paper was published. He introduced them by stating that while governor he was the Poppers harshest critic, but he was standing before us today to say that not only were the trends the Poppers were predicting happening but that they are happening at a much, much faster rate then even they were predicting.

My understanding of the Poppers is that they are not trying to force change on our lives but addressing the trends that are happening and then discussing what the world on the high plains might look like as the trends progress.

Isn’t that a discussion we should have in Kansas Farmers Union? Shouldn’t we strive to understand more what the trends are, why did they happen, what will our future look like?

I am really looking forward to their participation at our convention.

The Election

Back in February I was asked to be part of a panel at the 25 x 25 conference held at K-State. Barry Flinchbaugh was the moderator. I abused my opportunity there to show a few slides during my short presentation, mostly because I wanted to show off a brand new grandson and also to make some fun of Dr. Flinchbaugh.

I was showing friends a cigar box I had in my possession that showed a young chubby boy with glasses smoking a big cigar. When Dan saw that he said that it looked just like a young Barry Flinchbaugh, by golly it did! So I scanned the picture of the box into my computer and sent it to Dr. Flinchbaugh and asked him if he was the model for the picture? He enjoyed it much and when I showed it at the conference it went over well there also.

But I also showed a slide of a donkey and an elephant slugging it out and made the comment that the dysfunctional congress was not getting anything done and that we need to address climate change now, not later.

When Dr. Flinchbaugh took the podium after my presentation he referenced the donkey / elephant slide and made a statement something like “In all my many years of policy work I’ve never seen such a dysfunctional congress than what we have now.”

The crowd, like every other crowd in Kansas, was mostly elephants and they clapped and cheered loudly. Dr. Flinchbaugh gave the crowd his patented glare and he chomped down hard on his cigar then said “This is not one party or the other party, both are to blame, it’s an embarrassment to our country and I say a pox to both parties!”

Why am I rambling on about this? The recent election was wonderful for many, and it certainly made a statement, but the statement it made to me was that we are now guaranteed that for the next two years congress will be even more dysfunctional, more passionate, more violent, than what we have witnessed in the past, and I worry for the future of our children and grand-children because of it.

We have run-away federal deficits (that didn’t just start two years ago). We are just now starting to climb out of a recession and are still pretty wobbly on our feet. I am convinced that climate change is a real threat to my descendants. We are still in a stupid war.

Our trade deficit continues to give the wealth of our country to others via currency manipulation and value-added-taxes. The expense of health care is adversely affecting “quality of life” goals for a huge part of our citizenship. etc. etc.     Sometimes I can be so depressing, but this is not a time for congress to be doing nothing, but how does it get fixed?



The proposed enforcement of current laws in regards to the Packers & Stockyard act (GIPSA) is getting pretty nasty. I was in Kansas City Wednesday to attend a press conference supporting enforcement of GIPSA hosted by OCM (organization for competitive markets) and it turned out that next door immediately following the OCM press conference (which our president, Roger Johnson, spoke at) the NCBA held one next door to oppose the enforcement of it. Both were targeting the National Association of Farm Broadcasters convention going on at the same hotel.

If you support enforcement of GIPSA, which KFU and NFU both do, then it’s important for you to make your voice heard. The USDA is accepting public comments until November 22, you need to holler at them. Lauren has the information up on our website;




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