State officials will tour Lawrence on Tuesday as part of a Farm to School Celebration that focuses on connecting local farms with healthy meals in school cafeterias.
Kansas Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman and Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker will have lunch with students at West Middle School, 2700 Harvard Road. The meal will be prepared using more than 50 percent locally grown or processed products.
Afterward, they will visit the school garden and hear presentations from students.
Then officials will tour the Moon on the Meadow Farm, 1515 E. 11th St. The final stop is Hilltop Child Development Center, 1605 Irving Hill Rd., where First Lady Mary Brownback will read to pre-school children.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday urged Congress to approve a proposed farm bill, saying he hoped a bipartisan deal on agriculture would create momentum to also pass immigration reform and a long-term deficit reduction plan.
"It's like turning a wheel," Vilsack said in a telephone interview with the Lawrence Journal-World. "Once you give it a push, it can roll around for a while. We have to get momentum in this Congress for getting something done," he said.
Passage of a farm bill provides the best opportunity "to get that wheel rolling," he said.
The House and Senate are set to consider separate five-year farm bills. The Senate bill would cut $2.4 billion annually, while the House plan would reduce spending by $4 billion out of about $100 billion annually.
Both versions would cut food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The Senate bill would cut $400 million per year, while the House would reduce it by $2 billion annually.
The administration supports the Senate version, Vilsack said, because the House bill cuts SNAP too deeply.
And Vilsack said it's important to approve immigration legislation, too.The Senate Judiciary Committee is aiming to pass before the Memorial Day recess an immigration bill to secure the border and offer citizenship to millions.
Vilsack said getting those two pieces of legislation passed may pave the way for cooperation on a budget deal.
Congress and the White House's failure to agree on long-term deficit reduction has led to automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration. Vilsack said sequestration "does create a challenge to fund programs."
The Kansas Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that it is moving to Manhattan in summer 2014.
The plan is to house the agency in a new 50,000-square-foot facility built by the Kansas State University Foundation in the group's research park.
Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman said the decision was made to move so the agency could work closer with other agricultural and bioscience entities, including the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. "Manhattan is the value-added center for agriculture," Rodman said.
KDA will maintain its main administrative offices in Topeka, but will move the majority of its programs to Manhattan. In addition, the department will maintain current field offices in Stafford, Stockton, Parsons and Garden City.
Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman on Tuesday called for the repeal of Kansas corporate farming laws.
His comments came at a meeting where Gov. Sam Brownback and his Cabinet members were briefing legislators.
As he left the meeting, Brownback was asked what he thought of Rodman's remark. Brownback, who appointed Rodman to the ag secretary position, said he would outline his legislative agenda during his State of the State speech tonight.
But Brownback added that the state is trying to recruit businesses to rural areas and state regulations have been a problem.
"That is an issue for a number of them (businesses), given the structure of agriculture, particularly the structure of animal agriculture," he said.
Rodman has urged fewer restrictions before. Last year, he said Kansas had a history of turning away certain types of agriculture, particularly corporate hog farms.
"By reshaping our corporate agriculture laws, we can open Kansas up to the economic development these operations bring and become more competitive with other states. These industries are now modern, efficient and excellent corporate citizens," he said.
During his remarks to legislators, Brownback told them they are on the front end of changing government. State government must be more competitive, providing the best services at the lowest cost or people will go elsewhere, he said.