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New study looks at flow of Kansas agriculture products

Report includes Southeast Kansas case study


PITTSBURG, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Agriculture late last month released the Kansas Agribusiness Commodity Flow Study, which analyses the movement of crops, livestock, and other agricultural products within Kansas and out of the state in recent years, as well as making some future projections. 

The report, which is over 250 pages long, notes that much of the state’s agricultural output is produced in Western Kansas. “Overall, the counties producing most of the truck traffic are located on the western part of the state,” it states. “This is more evident when all flows inbound, outbound, domestic, and exports are combined.” 

The southeastern region of the state does make a few appearances, however, in the Kansas Agribusiness Commodity Flow Study. The report notes that Crawford County is number two in the state, second only to Sedgwick County, for cow slaughter demand. Other Southeast Kansas counties among the top 15 in the state for cow slaughter demand include Bourbon, Labette, and Wilson counties. 

The report includes a case study, “Additional value-added activity in Southeast Kansas,” looking at the anticipated impact of establishing a new soybean processing facility in Montgomery County. In June, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) twice visited Montgomery County, once for a groundbreaking ceremony also attended by Gov. Laura Kelly for the new Bartlett soybean processing facility there, and a second time for a ribbon cutting to celebrate the beginning of a $27 million railroad improvement project. The rail project was made possible by a federal grant to the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad (SKOL), owned by Pittsburg-based Watco Companies, which in turn made the Bartlett soybean facility possible, according to Moran. 

“Modernizations to the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad will improve safety and efficiency while allowing heavier shipments to travel across the region, providing new economic opportunities to our farmers and manufacturers in rural Kansas,” Moran said in late June. 

The Kansas Agribusiness Commodity Flow Study projects that the new soybean processing facility will have a significant impact both on agricultural markets within Kansas and on interstate agricultural commerce, with capacity to process 38.5 million bushels of soybeans annually by the time it is fully operational in 2024. 

“While the new processing plant does take some soybeans from counties that previously supplied existing plants in Sedgwick and Lyon Counties, much of its supply comes from counties in southeast Kansas that previously sent soybeans out of the state,” the study notes. “The new plant also gets some soybeans from Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.”  

Cherokee County is expected to see the greatest increase in the amount of soybeans it supplies for in-state processing, with more than 4.5 million additional bushels expected to be processed in Montgomery County. This is followed by Labette County, with more than 3 million additional bushels projected to be processed in-state, and Montgomery County, with just under 3 million more bushels to be processed locally. 

“Kansas is a significant supplier of soybean meal to the poultry production areas of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas as well as a supplier of soybean meal for export to Mexico,” according to the report. “Construction of a new plant in southeastern Kansas will likely see flows of soybean meal to northwestern Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas as well as being a catalyst for potential expansion of poultry production into southeastern Kansas.” 

On the topic of poultry production in Southeast Kansas, Cherokee County is noted in the report not only for its increased supply of soybeans that will soon be processed in-state, but also for leading Kansas in turkey farming. 

“Kansas produced an estimated 264,000 turkeys in 2020. In the 2017 COA [Census of Agriculture], Kansas had 280 farms with turkey inventory and 77 farms listed with sales of turkeys. This production is heavily concentrated in Cherokee County in southeast Kansas which in 2017 had 86% of the turkey inventory and 89% of turkeys sold in Kansas,” according to the report. 

“Kansas has a rich history of commodity production,” the study notes, adding that the state’s top four crops —corn, sorghum, soybeans and wheat — have been planted on approximately 20 million acres for the past four decades, but the crop mix has changed over time, with significant growth in corn and soybean acreage compared to grain sorghum and wheat. 

“With such a rich history of commodity production during the last decades, it is imperative for Kansas farmers to have a clear understanding of such production trends, the intrinsic characteristics of commodity flows (e.g., origin-destination, volumes, transportation mode used, etc), and identify any potential challenges and areas of improvement aiming to increase the efficiencies of the stakeholders involved in the movement of commodities.” 

To read the full report, visit www.agriculture.ks.gov/CommodityFlow.