Wearing sunglasses and blue jeans, Plainville farmer Fred Kleinschmidt withstood some intense mid-afternoon July heat and sun in the parking lot at Midland Marketing Co-Op Inc., waiting for Gov. Jeff Colyer to arrive.
Colyer was at the elevator in downtown Hays on Wednesday as part of a 105-county tour to get out the vote in November and win election to the governor’s office.
Kleinschmidt’s message to Colyer and all Kansans is to tackle long-running low commodity prices eating away at farm profitability.
“Please help the farmer,” Kleinschmidt said. “If you eat, you’re involved.”
Jerome Marintzer, who lives 4 miles north of Hays, runs the elevator’s feed mill. He also came out to see the governor. He had President Donald Trump’s tariffs on his mind, adding he thinks the president is trying to put an end to other countries’ unfair trade practices.
“I’d like to know about the tariffs and how they’ll affect the commodity prices,” Marintzer said. “Because other countries will retaliate and slap tariffs on our wheat.”
Midland Marketing has 11 elevators in Kansas, said Kevin Royer, Plainville, who is general manager for all of them. Colyer previously visited the Palco elevator. Wednesday’s visit was scheduled after Royer got a call from the Kansas Grain & Feed Association asking him to host the governor in Hays.
Asked to name his burning issue for the November elections, Royer reflected a minute and then referenced candidate character: “Just as long as they’re honest.”
A Hays native, Colyer mentioned being back in his hometown throughout his unscripted comments to the people who stopped by to see him. Wednesday’s stop was a way to “get home and talk to folks about what’s happening in Kansas” and said it’s “good to be back home.”
Colyer mentioned several times the Kansas economy is improving, citing as evidence the S&P Global Ratings upgrade in May of the state’s credit rating from AA-negative to stable as a result of improved revenue.
His concerns are good schools, great education, low taxes and low costs, but Colyer said he’s directly helped farmers also, taking action on expanded grazing rights, industrial hemp, trade and prices when possible.
“We’re also trying to open up new markets,” he said, including adding value to Kansas products and promoting specialty crops. “We know agriculture is the center of the Kansas economy.”
“We’re starting to see the Kansas economy grow; it needs to grow faster,” Colyer said. “We need to get more money in people’s pockets.” As an example, he noted his administration is focusing on improving job capabilities for Kansans with increased technical training.
Colyer, who became governor in January after President Trump appointed Gov. Sam Brownback to a national post, reminded listeners that he’s been endorsed by the Kansas Farm Bureau, the Kansas Livestock Association and Kansas Grain & Feed Association.
Among the dozen or so people who came to listen to the governor’s comments were Ellis County Commissioner Marcy McClelland, who is running for re-election, and Ellis County Public Works Director Bill Ring, as well as Chuck Hindman with Mid America Land Restoration, Hays.