Topeka While the United States is No. 1 in soybean production, much could still be done to help area farmers, a member of the Kansas Soybean Assn. said Wednesday.
"People give farmers this mystique that they're rich, but there's a lot of costs involved," said John Wray, who farms south of Ottawa.
Wray, a board member of the Kansas Soybean Assn., was attending the 25th annual meeting of the organization, which has about 680 members. About 400 attended the meeting and convention on Wednesday in Topeka.
Wray said soybean producers want the president to have authority for fast-track legislation for trade agreements with other countries.
Also, he said, farmers are hoping the embargoes for some countries, such as Cuba and Iran, will be lifted to give them a boost.
"For many farmers it's hard because the price of soybeans has remained the same, while the price of everything else has been going up," Wray said.
That's not quite true. Soybean prices actually have dropped. bushels were being sold for $6.95 in 1997, but have dropped to about $5 this year.
A new combine or tractor a few years ago cost around $50,000, he said; now a comparable one costs about $200,000.
Farmers also spend several hundred dollars planting and harvesting crops.
But Wray said, "If you're going to be a farmer, you've got to be optimistic. If you're not, I don't know how you can survive."
Kansas farmers usually produce 70 million to 80 million bushels of soybeans each year, which ranks eighth in the country, Wray said.
-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.