Gov. Laura Kelly talks agriculture, housing along Prosperity on the Plains Tour in western Kansas

Gov. Laura Kelly and Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam made stops in Sherman and Finney counties in western Kansas Sept. 20 as part of the governor’s Prosperity on the Plains Tour. They visited with farmers, ranchers, local legislators, and housing leaders to gain insight into the state’s workforce and economic development needs.

“Kansas have long known that farmers, ranchers, and agriculture producers are the lifeblood of our state’s economy,” Kelly said. “It was a pleasure to meet with industry leaders to discuss how to continue our state’s record-breaking economic success."

First sttop: Agriculture Roundtable in Edson

At their first stop near Goodland, Kelly and Beam held a roundtable meeting at Schilling Limousin Cattle Ranch, where they heard from Kansan agricultural leaders on topics ranging from workforce development and agriculture education to transportation regulations and the State Water Plan.

The Kansas agriculture industry has seen large economic wins in recent years. Last year, Kansas surpassed $5 billion in agriculture exports for the first time in state history. The administration has also brought new ag-related businesses including Scorpion, Amber Wave, Hilmar Cheese Company, to the state — further solidifying Kansas’ importance in the agriculture economy.

Beyond Kelly and Beam, the roundtable participants included: Ron Schilling, Schilling Limousine Cattle Ranch; Rep. Adam Smith, District 120; Jessica Vaughn, Farm Credit of Western Kansas; Shannon Kenyon, Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District #4; Gennifer House, Ad Astra Per Aspera, LLC and Golden Ventures; Wayne Carpenter, farmer and member of U.S. Premium Beef Board of Directors; Alan Query, Q7 Farms, LLC; Max Bell, Western Sprinklers, Inc.; Jeff Deeds, farmer and Groundwater Management District 4 board member; Nathan Emig, Farmer and Groundwater Management District 4 board member; Jeff Bhend, Scoular Grain; and Bill Shields, Nutrien Ag.

Second stop: Housing Development Tour in Garden City

Gov. Kelly and Secretary Beam then toured a new housing development in Garden City and highlighted the importance of building more affordable housing. They were joined by members of the Finney County Economic Development Corporation.

“Only with housing can we attract and retain the workers we need to continue the strong job growth and business investment we’ve seen over the past few years,” Kelly said. “That’s why my administration worked with the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation to complete the first state housing needs assessment in nearly 30 years and have funded housing projects throughout the state.”

“We’re excited to have Governor Kelly visit Garden City to see some of our recent housing projects,” Lona DuVall, president and CEO of the Finney County Economic Development Corporation, said. “The sustained economic growth of Finney County and Garden City has created significant demands on our housing inventory, and we are pleased to have new and expanded State of Kansas programs available to assist our developers as they strive to meet the demand. We’re excited to show Governor Kelly how those programs are helping in our community and the greater Garden City region.”

In this year’s budget, Kelly proposed adding $20 million to the state’s annual $2 million allotment for the program. She has also worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to allocate an additional $50 million for housing throughout the state.

With those investments and special one-time funding for projects, Kansas will see a two-year investment of more than $90 million targeted toward the state’s rural areas and small cities.

Kelly signed bipartisan legislation this year providing a range of housing and historic preservation tax credits to local communities, which will provide more than $100 million in tax incentives over the first three years of these programs. These credits will help diversity and rehabilitate historic properties and encourage local investment in housing.

Third stop: Grant County Home Products Dinner in Ulysses

Kelly also attended the Grant County Home Products Dinner hosted by the Grant County Chamber of Commerce. The dinner is an annual showcase of locally grown produce that has been in operation since 1963.