The Salina founder of a major farm implement manufacturer thinks U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Great Bend, is backing trade policies harmful to agriculture.
In August, Roy Applequist established Kansas Farmers Fund with the Federal Election Commision. It operates independently of a candidate’s camapaign and can raise and spend money in unlimited amounts. It spent $102,880 this month on advertising — including on social media — in opposition to Marshall.
Millions of dollars will be spent, collectively, by other such independent groups in the hotly contested fights in the 2nd and 3rd Congressional races in Kansas. The 2nd District has an open seat this year, and U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, is facing a challenge from Democrat Sharice Davids in the 3rd District.
Kansas Farmers Fund stands alone as an outside committee buying ads in the 1st District race. Marshall is running for a second term and Clyde Democrat Alan LaPolice is challenging him.
Marshall is standing by the Trump Administration on trade and tariff issues and has said Kansas farmers are willing to endure a financial squeeze for the sake of better trade deals.
Applequist, who founded Great Plains Manufacturing and sold it in 2016 after about 40 years, described his concerns:
• “Grain prices are suffering because of the tariffs.”
• Some people expect prices and markets eventually will rebound, but “there’s a lot of competition for world markets,” he said. Countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Russia, as well as nations in Africa, are expanding their production and they also have acquired technologies.
• “Many of our foreign customers think we’re an unreliable source,” he said. The problem regarding Kansas grain farmers’ customers is that “there are a lot of options out there” for them, he said.
• Increasing prices for steel and aluminum adversely affect farm equipment and aviation manufacturers, respectively, and that will result in higher prices on products sold here.”There’s just no question about it,” he said
The Kansas Farmers Fund ad carries a quote by Marshall that appeared in an Aug.30 story in The Kansas City Star: “’There will be some farmers that won’t have enough money left to plant crops next year.’”
Marshall said in that interview that young producers or heavily indebted producers might not weather this period. Applequist indicated he’s more skeptical about the long-term consequences of the trade wars.
Applequist has contributed in the past to U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Manhattan, and to the earlier 1st Congressional District campaign of Republican Tracey Mann. Applequist, a longtime Republican, became a Democrat this year and supported Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joshua Svaty in August. Svaty lost.
LaPolice said Applequist and some Applequist family members have contributed individually to his campaign. The Salina businessman said LaPolice “will be an independent-type person in the House if he’s elected.” He’s “willing to take a stand on issues and not just be a rubber stamp,” he said.
The News was unable to obtain a comment from the Marshall campaign.