For 36 and a half years, Kris DeMoss has welcomed farmers and ranchers into the offices of the Farm Service Agency in Rocky Ford.
"Her smiling face has put many a producer at ease," said Chuck Hanagan, manager of the office. "After thousands of 'What can we help you with?' and just as many 'Just sit down right here and we'll get you taken care of,' DeMoss has decided to retire. Her FSA family is hosting an open house luncheon on Friday, Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
DeMoss doesn't believe anyone is really cranky.
"Sometimes they're just frustrated," she says, as she gets ready to iron out whatever government red tape has been getting between the producer and his money. After retirement, she may do a little consulting, but that comes after a trip to Nevada to visit the grandchildren she hasn't seen since Christmas and some time in Hawaii where she and her husband have a condo on Maui.
DeMoss was born in Springfield, Ill., but grew up in Fresno, Calif. The family moved to Rocky Ford in 1971 when her father bought the Gamble’s Store. She was in the eighth grade. She went on to graduate from Rocky Ford High School in 1975. She also attended Otero Junior College: “off and on,” she said.
She met her first husband, Randy Crump, in California. “He passed away in 2014,” she said.
She worked first at Hollar Feeds, then went to work at FSA on May 1, 1983, when her daughter Hillary was two years old.
”I wasn’t going to stay,” she said. “I was more of a receptionist for the service center, it was touch and go whether my job would stay. But in the 90’s, the situation got more stable. We started selling crop and corn insurance in 2001, under the Clinton administration.
“I went to Washington, D.C. to study the Non-insured Acreage Program. That was in 2000, and we started selling crop insurance in 2001. The price was $100 a crop, $300 maximum for any farmer. A farmer said to me, ‘I keep giving you money, and I don’t get anything for it.’ I said, 'Trust me, you will get more than this back.' And sure enough, he did. That was shortly before the big drought.
“We are the largest NAP company in Colorado, and one of the largest in the nation. We have 514 policies. The cost is now $250 a crop and is soon going to $325. It’s still worth it, though. In 2001, the maximum payout was $100,000. In 2014-15, it was $125,000. In 2019, the maximum is $300,000.
"There are 42 agencies under the United States Department of Agriculture in the nation. It was originally under the title of Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. You notice we are in the same building with Natural Resources Conservation Service.”
Her three Distinguished Service Awards came from her union. The workers at FSA are county employees, not federal, but have the same benefits as federal employees.
Her daughter, Hillary Merwin, lives in Rocky Ford. Her granddaughter Kaysa Merwin is a junior in Rocky Ford High School; grandson Hunter is a fifth grader. Grandson Brawnsen is a second grader and Boaz is in kindergarten. Emory Crump, her son in Nevada, has three children: Kaylynn, second grade, Allison, three years old, and Logan, a year and a half. These are the grandchildren who are the objectives of DeMoss’s first vacation trip.
Sharing the fun with Kris is her husband David DeMoss of Rocky Ford, a crop adjuster for vegetables and forage.
The FSA family at the Rocky Ford office are expecting a big turnout for Kris’s retirement party Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., 201 S. 10th St. in Rocky Ford.