Monday, November 24, 2014

2014 Farm Bill decisions????

Sandra Wick, Agriculture Natural Resources Agent

The 2014 Farm Bill has been on the minds of many producers lately as now they are faced with many decisions with the sign up going on until March 31, 2015. Change is not easy for anyone, and especially if it affects your livelihood and your family. The best advice for any situation is to obtain as much information as you can to help you make the most educated decision. Several options are available and it is important to see which one may fit for your particular situation. Once a commodity program is elected, that farm serial number is locked in for the next 5 years, even if the land changes ownerships or tenants. So this is an important decision that farmers will likely want to take their time evaluating their options.

K-State Research and Extension (KSRE) has an excellent website ( with so many resources, free of charge, that are available online for producers. These include fact sheets, publications, and a spreadsheet that can be used as a decision tool to actually plug in your estimated yields and predicted prices to calculate anticipated payments from each of the programs. The publications and fact sheets are updated weekly, whenever new information is received. You can also register for weekly email update notifications directly on the above K-State website. This will keep you informed on the most current, up-to-date changes.

Many educational opportunities are also available in the next couple of months to provide face to face presentations and discussions and to help answer your questions. FSA, Extension and the Kansas Farm Management Association have teamed together for this very important time. Be sure and mark all these educational meetings on your calendar and take the time to participate. Check with your local FSA to see when they will be hosting local meetings in each of your counties.

The Kansas Farm Management Association and K-State Research and Extension will be hosting several Farm Bill informational meetings during mid-December. The following is a list of the meetings scheduled so far:

  • Wednesday, December 17 - 10:00 a.m. @ the Smith County Courthouse, Smith Center
  • Wednesday, December 17 - 1:30 p.m. @ the United Christian Church, Osborne
  • Thursday, December 18, 10:00 a.m. @ Beloit (Location to be announced)
  • Thursday, December 18, 1:30 p.m. @ the Community Center in Mankato
  • Friday, December 19, 1:30 p.m. @ Community Center in Vesper

KSRE will be hosting 15 regional Farm Bill informational meetings starting in January through mid-February. Be sure and check out website for the dates and locations.

So the bottom line is education is the key to making the best decisions. 

KSRE 2014 Farm Bill publications located on

A Loving Family Gift

Kathy Lupfer-Nielsen, Family Consumer Sciences Agent

One of the most loving gifts a person can give their family is to put your affairs in order before a disaster or medical emergency. Even better would be to have a conversation with your family members about your end of life wishes. Although this isn’t a fun topic to have over the holidays, it needs to be when family members are together so they all hear the same conversation, rather than having wishes being passed around like the game gossip.

Here’s a list of the paperwork that should be gathered in one location for your family:

· All bank accounts, account numbers and types of accounts and locations of banks.

· Insurance Company, policy numbers, beneficiary as stated on the policies and type of insurance (health, life, long term care, automobile, etc.).

· Deed and titles to all property.

· Loan/lien information, who holds them and if there are any death provisions.

· Social Security and Medicare numbers.

· Military history, affiliations and papers (including discharge papers).

· Up-to-date will in a safe place and inform family where the will is located..

· Living will or other advanced directives appropriate for your state of residence.

· Durable Power of Attorney.

· Instructions for funeral services and burial if arrangements have been secured, name and location of funeral home.

If any of you have had a family member pass without this information gathered for you, you will understand why it is a loving gift to have items gathered in one place…or at least a list of the above items in a notebook of where else piece is. You also might want to include who your lawyer is as their office will also have a copy of the will.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Houseplants: More than Just Décor!

Jenae Ryan, Horticulture Agent

It’s that time of year when colder weather drives people to spend more time indoors. While I may have missed National Indoor Plant Week (September 15-19), talking about the benefits of houseplants is still quite appropriate as we try to keep our warm air inside our homes and prevent wintery air from getting in.
Thanks to improved building and insulating practices, homes are less “leaky”, reducing the transfer of potentially contaminated indoor air with fresh outside air. This lack of air flow can lead to the buildup of air pollutants. New furniture, paints, household cleaners, inks, carpets, and a variety of other household sources release chemicals in a process called “off-gassing”.
            Through photosynthesis, a plant takes in carbon dioxide, converts the carbon into food for itself, and releases oxygen. This is one way a houseplant filters the air and can improve indoor air quality. A NASA study in the late 1980’s studied the abilities of common houseplants to remove carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene from the air. They identified several houseplants that were successful at removing the majority of these chemicals from the air. However, not all houseplants remove the same air pollutants equally, so it is recommended to have a variety of houseplants to help improve air quality.
            It is important to choose the right houseplant for your home, not only for its air cleaning abilities, but also for the temperature and lighting in your home. During the winter, plants that normally do well in a window may need to be moved further from the window or to a completely different spot to maintain a desired temperature. Plants in the winter may not need as much water as they do in the summer time. Over-watering and over-fertilizing in the winter can cause plants to produce more vegetative growth and leaves and produce fewer blooms.

For more information on selecting air cleaning houseplants, check out the latest version of the K-State Research and Extension Horticulture Newsletter at this link:

For more information about watering houseplants, click this link to a K-State Horticulture publication on watering raised beds, berms, containers, and houseplants:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Are We in an “Obesogenic Environment?”

Nadine Sigle, Family Consumer Science Agent

Do you spend most of your day sitting at a desk? Do you spend two or more hours every evening in front of a TV or computer screen? Does the candy jar get replenished when it just half empty? Are the sidewalks in your neighborhood full of cracks and difficult to walk on? Is your street lighting dim and you are afraid to take a walk at night? Do you have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables?

If you answered yes to the majority of these, you are living in an “obesogenic environment” or one that is full of factors which lead to obesity. It’s easy to say if we would just eat better and move more we wouldn’t have the problem. Today research is showing the issues are much deeper than healthy eating and becoming more physically active. If our environment doesn’t help support healthy lifestyles, our health will be next to impossible to sustain.

Working with our communities, we need to take a hard look at what facilities are available to increase our physical activity. Safe and well light streets and sidewalks are a good start which will allow adults and youth to walk to school, work or for leisure. Community gyms or wellness centers provide the opportunity to exercise when it’s too warm or cold outside.

The addition of community gardens provides access to fresh vegetables as well as physical activity. The garden can expand the variety of vegetables we consume and they can be eaten at their peak. It’s a project where generations can work together and stories can be shared and memories created.

At home several small changes can have a large impact. Instead of having a candy dish, keep fresh fruits in a bowl on the table or counter. In the refrigerator, keep a container of cut veggies handy along with a pitcher of cold water. Instead of bringing take out foods home, cook at home. The extra time spent standing and preparing meals burns calories not to mention the fact you will probably prepare something with less fat and calories.

Food stands at sporting events are another venue where the addition of healthy options could have a large impact on our environment. Sure, it’s convenient to grab a hot dog and nachos at a football or basketball game along with a soda, but a steady diet will lead to unwanted pounds, not to mention the lack of nutrients our bodies need to maintain health.

As a child I was taught to leave things as good as, if not better, than the condition in which I found it. If we do not take steps to reverse the obesogenic environment, this will be the first generation where the children and grandchildren will live in poorer health resulting in a short lifespan. Is this the legacy we want to leave?