COLUMBUS - Consumers and producers are very passionate about many agricultural issues. These subjects affect a producer’s way of life and the consumer’s food supply. Some of these controversial topics are feeding antibiotics to livestock, genetically modified crops, and humane handling of livestock. The problem stemming from these issues may be a lack of communication between the producer growing the food and the consumer eating it. There may also be the problem of misinformation. In an attempt to shed some light on these and other issues, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee will host a Rural Agricultural Expo from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 28, at the Cherokee County 4-H Building located at 124 W. Country Rd in Columbus.

A recent ruling by the FDA has required producers to obtain a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) before administering antibiotics to livestock through their feed. This has posed some hardship to producers, feed companies and veterinarians but consumers also want to know that their food is safe to eat. Mike Apley, Kansas State University Veterinarian, will present information on the current status of the VFD regulation and how judicious use of antibiotics can be safe for consumers and beneficial for livestock producers. Mike Apley has extensive knowledge with antibiotic use in livestock and in 2015 was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria.

Many consumers are concerned about producers using GMO crops. One that has received a lot of attention this year is a variety of soybeans that is now tolerant of the chemical dicamba. Dicamba is a broadleaf weed killer that is detrimental to soybeans; however, this new variety of soybeans can withstand the chemical. This is great news for producers as it provides them with another alternative for weed control in their fields, but consumers wonder if the new GMO crops are safe to consume. Harold Trick, professor at Kansas State University, will provide the facts about GMO’s and the work being done with genetically modified organisms.

Animal welfare is another hot button topic. Many people throughout the world believe that ranchers are abusing livestock, whether it is a fact or not. Through years of research and improvement, advances have been made for how livestock are handled in various working facilities. One of the newest methods of reducing stress to an animal is the use of a Bud Box System. Producers want to reduce stress to animals as it will improve animal performance, prevent bruising of meat, and improve the health of the animal. Matt Perrier, owner of Dalebanks Angus and advocate of reduced stress handling of livestock, will have a live demonstration of the ease and simplicity in which cattle work through the Bud Box system. He will discuss how to make working cattle a pleasant experience for both the cattle and cattle handler.

There will be multiple vendors at the event as well as other sessions throughout the day. Lucas Nodine will discuss Long Term Care and How to Protect Your Assets in the later years of life. Farmers Coop will present Fall Herbicide Options for Producers and Fall Calf Crop Feeding Strategies. The day will end with the Cherokee County Beekeepers Association giving the Buzz on Bees. The number of beehives has decreased since 1950. Protecting our pollinators has become important; however, managing beehives can be tricky because of the variety of pest, diseases, and use of insecticides. This workshop will be a great opportunity to learn more about this popular pastime.

If you would like more information about the Rural Agricultural Expo, please contact the Columbus Chamber of Commerce at 620-429-3849 or contact the Cherokee County K-State Research and Extension Office at 620-429-3849. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.