Kansas Farm Bureau is using the past to help build a brighter future for K-State’s College of Agriculture

Kansas Farm Bureau is truly helping build a brighter future for the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University with a donation of $5 million, the largest donation in the organization’s history, to support the Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation and the Agronomy Research and Innovation Center of the Agriculture Innovation Initiative.

While we can always learn by building on those who have come before us, technology is changing rapidly, and looking to the future is what we need to focus on to solve food and fiber hurdles. This focus on the future is why Kansas Farm Bureau invests in this initiative.

“It’s important that we are forward-thinking, training and teaching students to prepare them to embrace future technologies we probably haven't even thought of today. It becomes even more important and becomes critical for us as we evolve in the industry,” said Terry Holdren, CEO and general counsel at Kansas Farm Bureau. “The ability to use digital agricultural tools, the ability to use artificial intelligence in some ways, as we think ahead about what the future of agriculture will look like.”

As agriculture involves everything from engineering to education, the interdisciplinary focus of the initiative is essential. Kansas Farm Bureau agrees that allowing students to learn and study under multiple disciplines broadens their scope and provides a well-rounded graduate.

“For me, a focus on interdisciplinary approaches is the key if we want to solve the grand global challenges that the planet and the agriculture industry face today. How do we grow more food with less acres, with less natural resources, with less water, all of those things? How do we do that in a way that maximizes production while protecting the things that are important to us? That becomes a whole of the university approach, which is important,” said Holdren. “You can't solve some of those things without engineering. You can't solve some of them without a social science approach or a human thought approach to those. How we bring those parts of campus together when we start a research project or when we're thinking about those topics has long-term and sustainable approaches and benefits for all of us.”

Kansas Farm Bureau’s board of directors is composed of Kansas farmers and ranchers, who believe that the investment they have made in the Ag Innovation Initiative signals buy-in and credibility. With the new infrastructure of lab spaces and classrooms, the university will be able to recruit undergraduate and graduate students as well as young faculty and researchers.

“Kansas State University is a land-grant university,” said Joe Newland, president of Kansas Farm Bureau. “This is agriculture. And as a farmer and rancher, I would be denying the future of agriculturalists if I wasn't investing in that future. Not for my kids or grandkids, but for everybody's.”

Joe Newland is the Kansas Farm Bureau's president and a multi-generation farmer and rancher. He returned home to his family farm before finishing his degree at K-State to help his father, who was suffering from an illness. He began farming full-time and became an active community member by serving on many boards. He became involved in Kansas Farm Bureau through the need for insurance and realized it was much more. He has served in many facets prior to his current role on the board of directors and has also held public office in the Kansas legislature.

The Ag Innovation Initiative has been a bright spot for Newland’s first year in office. “The Ag Innovation Initiative allows us to elevate agriculture as it is the No.1 economic driver in the state,” said Newland. “It needs to be number one at our university as well, especially being a land grant university. So the opportunity to look ahead, to rebuild and really thrive as a university is what really excites me.”

Now is the time to follow Kansas Farm Bureau’s lead and invest in the Ag Innovation Initiative. Visit with the K-State Foundation team.

Kansas Farm Bureau is using the past to help build a brighter future for K-State’s College of Agriculture

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