This summer, the Kansas Department of Agriculture will be the first state in the nation to launch a comprehensive volunteer corps to address agriculture emergency response.

This summer, the Kansas Department of Agriculture will be the first state in the nation to launch a comprehensive volunteer corps to address agriculture emergency response. The Kansas Agriculture Emergency Response Corps (KAERC) will be made up of volunteers representing a broad range of skills who will be trained and prepared to respond rapidly and efficiently to an agricultural emergency. KDA needs skilled, dedicated citizens from many different backgrounds, possessing a wide range of proficiencies, to be members of this volunteer corps.

“The agriculture emergency response corps will play an important role in responding to agricultural emergencies,” said Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey. “Kansas is at the forefront of emergency preparedness in case of an agriculture emergency, and through our annual exercises we have determined that one of our greatest needs for an adequate response is more people. Kansans have always been willing to step up and help when emergencies occur, and this new volunteer corps will provide structure and training to maximize that community support. We look forward to working with these volunteers across the state.”

During a large-scale incident, the limited state and federal staff cannot fill all the necessary roles, so the KAERC will use the wide range of skills of volunteers in local communities to meet the needs. Volunteers will be able to choose roles they feel comfortable in and will operate under direct supervision of KDA.

All volunteers, regardless of their role, will complete several training courses to serve as an introduction to the KAERC program and to form a foundation for the emergency response framework. Other role-specific training will also be required, depending on the position held by the volunteer. KAERC volunteers will gain valuable emergency preparedness knowledge, skills and experience, giving them the tools to not only aid the state, but their communities and families. More information about the application process, specific volunteer roles and training can be found at agriculture.ks.gov/KAERC. For more information, please contact KAERC program manager David Hogg at david.hogg@ks.gov.

Kansas Producers Participate in Trade Mission to Costa Rica

This spring, the Kansas Department of Agriculture led a trade mission to Costa Rica to establish and strengthen relationships with Costa Rican beef producers. The KDA delegation of Billy Brown and Caitlyn Maloney was joined by Galen Fink, owner of Fink Beef Genetics in Randolph, Kansas, and project partner David Hobbs, director of activities for the American International Charolais Association.

KDA has partnered with the Costa Rican National Institute of Innovation and Transfer in Agricultural Technology (INTA) to demonstrate the benefits of utilizing U.S. beef genetics in the national herd of Brahman-based cattle. A field day exhibiting the offspring of U.S. Charolais and Red Angus-sired calves was the focal point of the mission, as over 60 Costa Rican cattlemen were in attendance. Through visits to Costa Rican ranches, genetics centers and academic institutions, the team gained useful insight on industry issues, listened to producers’ needs, made invaluable industry contacts, and solidified existing partnerships. Over the course of the week, the group was presented with numerous partnership opportunities in both the national and private sectors of the beef industry, which helped participants achieve useful insights for the future as the project moves forward.

“[This was] the best meeting INTA has ever put on,” said Fink. “It was in an area where there are a lot more cows, and producers were very serious about what they were doing. Some traveled up to 10 hours to get to the field day. Tour stops were outstanding.”

While U.S. exports of beef and beef products to Costa Rica have increased from $1.7 million in 2009 to $15.1 million in 2016, there has been a sustained decline in the cattle herd in Costa Rica, raising concerns about the sustainability of the local cow herd. “By utilizing U.S genetics through F1 crosses, Costa Rican producers can increase growth, reduce time to harvest, and improve overall efficiency while simultaneously being more environmentally friendly and sustainable,” said Brown, agribusiness development coordinator at KDA.

KDA strives to be a liaison and partner for the entire Kansas agricultural sector from farmers and ranchers to agribusinesses and food establishments and is dedicated to providing support, assistance, and opportunities to enhance Kansas businesses and grow agriculture in Kansas.

The trade mission was funded in part through U.S. Livestock Genetics Export Inc. If you are interested in participating in upcoming trade missions, please go to agriculture.ks.gov/international or contact Suzanne Ryan-Numrich at suzanne.numrich@ks.gov or call 785-564-6704.