For Jim Schmidt, a farmer in McPherson County, having someone in Washington who understands agriculture is important. That’s why he said he hosted U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., on the congressman’s farm tour through the central and eastern Kansas.
Marshall is touring Kansas farms, ranches and agribusinesses and learning about the needs, challenges and opportunities of farmers in different parts of the state. On Monday, along with Schmidt’s wheat, corn and soybean farm, he toured a cotton mill in Winfield and a flour mill in McPherson County. On Tuesday, he visited a cattle ranch and a fertilizer plant in Butler County.
As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Marshall said he wants to stay in touch with farmers, ranchers and agribusiness owners throughout the state.
In April, the Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Livestock Association announced their formal endorsements of Marshall for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
Schmidt, who owns Emma Creek Farm in Canton, told Marshall about how he uses cover crops and no-till farming to help with pest control and improve his soil.
"It’s all about soil health," Schmidt told Marshall. "It conserves moisture."
Several farmers from Reno, Harvey and McPherson counties asked questions ranging from agriculture to healthcare to coronavirus. Marshall asked the farmers about their farms.
When Richard Larson, a farmer from McPherson County, told the group gathered around Marshall about his Swedish ancestors, Marshall smiled.
"I think we all have a lot in common," he told the group. Marshall’s great-grandfather was from Sweden as well. His grandfather, number 12 in birth order, was the first child of this immigrant family born in the United States. And the farm that he started more than one century ago is still in the family.
Although growing up Marshall helped on the farm, his dream was to become a doctor — and he did. To date, he has delivered more than 5,000 babies.
When asked about healthcare, Marshall said he wants to make sure that everyone, including those with pre-existing conditions, is taken care of.
"I want to empower patients to be consumers again," Marshall told the group. "I want to put patients back in control."
Matt McCabe of Buhler asked the congressman about school openings. Marshall said he respects the virus, but, he told the group, their are risks to keeping children home. Some children are victims of violence at home. Usually teachers notice the signs of abuse, but if they are not in physical contact with the student, kids are more at risk.
"We can’t keep our kids out indefinitely," he said. "There’s a safe and responsible way to get kids back in our schools."
Healthy children have a one in one million chance of dying from COVID-19, Marshall said.
"If you are under 65, there is a less than one in 100,000 chance of dying," he said. "Let’s don’t overreact. A little Kansas commonsense is going to go a long way."