Friday, July 31, 2015

Ethan Knight: A Word from a Summer Intern

By Ethan Knight, MKC intern

Having grown up in Moundridge, Kan., MKC has always been a part of my life. My first memories of MKC was when I was a younger. I would walk up to the old service station to hang out with my dad after school. As soon as I could drive, I started helping out my Grandpa on the family farm and this was where I first came into contact with the agronomy side of MKC. Much of our time was spent at the co-op asking questions about crops, cattle and other various items. My time was also spent hauling our grain to the elevator where I was greeted by friendly people, a candy sucker and a refreshing soda. When my grandpa sold his farm I decided working for MKC as summer help would be the next best thing. A set of great co-workers and management each year kept me coming back for the past two summers.

As a senior at Bethel College, I made the decision I wanted to see more of MKC. My summer internship has really done a great job of fulfilling that want. I am an intern at the Moundridge location under Location Manager Brad Wedel. I was excited to be met this summer as an intern with more challenges and responsibility. I enjoy working with grain but I also enjoy the diversity of the other daily tasks. I like working with my hands in the shop, and repairing and maintaining the equipment. I've had the chance to help out at the ammonia plant where I learned to fill tanks. I also had the opportunity to visit growers with an MKC field marketer and see what their role is in helping them be more successful.

It has been really neat to see all the components that make up MKC. Being able to visit other MKC locations and also speak with and hear from various MKC partners in business has only added to my summer experience. It has been exciting to see how MKC has grown in my lifetime and even in the four summers I have worked for MKC. I am excited to see what the future of MKC looks like. I have learned a lot about the cooperative system and have gained valuable experience this summer. I am definitely excited to see what the future holds.

Ethan Knight

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Nathan Larson: A Word from an MKC Intern

By Nathan Larson, MKC intern

My name is Nathan Larson and I am the MKC agronomy and sales intern at the Groveland location.  I am going to be a senior at Kansas State University this fall and I am majoring in agronomy with an emphasis in consulting and production. I grew up on a small farm near Kensington, Kan., consisting mostly of livestock and wheat. Growing up on a farm is where my love and passion for agriculture began and why I decided to major in agronomy. 

This summer, I have been all over central Kansas getting the opportunity to do just about anything under the sun. I have helped out the agronomy department at Groveland when I can, but most of my time has been dedicated to scouting fields and relaying what I find to the MKC field marketers. When I am not scouting fields, I am working on my summer project which is over nitrogen stabilizers in corn and grain sorghum. I am trying to determine how well they work and what the return on investment would be for a producer. Trying to figure all this out requires me to take soil and tissue samples every two weeks.  In the coming weeks I will also have to do yield estimates for the fields being tested.       

When I started college, I had no clue what area of agriculture I wanted to pursue a career path in but then I came to MKC. Last summer, during my internship with MKC, I did a little bit of everything from grain to agronomy to precision agriculture to field marketing, trying to figure out what I exactly wanted to do. It was a great experience and by the end I decided I wanted to learn more about being a field marketer. Fast forward to this summer. It has been another great experience and I have focused more time on what I eventually see myself doing for a career in the future. Being at MKC has really taught me a lot and I look forward to what the rest of my summer holds.

Nathan Larson

Friday, July 24, 2015

Zane Sloan: A Word from a Summer Intern

By Zane Sloan, MKC intern

I grew up on a family farm in northwest Kansas and agriculture has always played a major role in my life. Our farm is located between Sharon Springs and Weskan, and consists of irrigated and dry land acres for crop production and pasture for cattle grazing. In the fall, I will resume classes at Kansas State University. I anticipate graduating in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business with a minor in agronomy.

I am considered a general agriculture intern for MKC and have spent most of my summer working at the Lindsborg location. I’ve had a variety of experiences working with both agronomy and grain departments. With the exceptionally wet conditions this spring, I hit the ground running when I arrived in Lindsborg. A few activities I assisted with were loading feed, mineral, chemical and fertilizer orders, and treating soybean seed with insecticide and fungicide.

I am no exception to those who grew up on a family farm when answering the question, “What is your favorite time during the summer?” My answer is always wheat harvest. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to see a different view of harvest this year while working at the Falun seasonal location. It took some adjustment from working in the fields during harvest to being at the elevator. I enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences between my farming background and the producers’ operations in this area.

My project for this summer is updating the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all products used or sold by MKC. With the guidance of Shane Eck, my mentor and Lindsborg location manager, I am excited to use the knowledge I’ve obtained from my internship. I have enjoyed being able work with and learn from Shane and other MKC employees this summer. 

Shadowing employees from MKC and TMA has helped me develop a wealth of knowledge. It has provided me with many opportunities and network connections that are unparalleled. I am excited for what the rest of the summer holds and helping out in any way possible.

Zane Sloan 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Jeff Hadachek: A Word from a Summer Intern

Until I was selected for this internship, the co-op was never more than a place my family hauled our grain. Having a family farm outside of Cuba, Kan., I have a diverse understanding of agriculture, but I knew I had a summer full of new experiences awaiting me as an intern for MKC.  

As a Groveland location intern, I have see staff members who are always willing to help and customers who truly represent central Kansas’s agricultural communities. For a town that only contains a church and the elevator, Groveland is a surprising hub of agricultural activity. I’ve developed an understanding in seed treatment, grain elevator management, and agronomy sales and decision-making.

My project for the summer is leading an audit over the anhydrous ammonia efficiency at MKC. Nathan Eck, Groveland location manager, is serving as my mentor and has provided guidance and clarity every step of the way. I look forward to the new experiences and assistance I can offer the
rest of the summer.

My favorite part of any summer is wheat harvest and this year was no exception. During the busiest two weeks of harvest, I assisted at the Buhler elevator. Harvest consisted of long, hot days, but it wouldn’t be harvest without lack of sleep and some heat. I most enjoyed getting to know the producers. It made me realize any Kansas small town is the same across the state: friendly people with a passion for agriculture. Kansas has seen another successful wheat harvest come and go and it was a pleasure spending it with MKC.

After this summer, I will return to Kansas State University for my sophomore year. I am majoring in agricultural economics with a quantitative option and an international agriculture minor. Through the inspiration of this internship, my career goal is to conduct international market research upon completing my degree and potentially attend graduate school.

This internship has provided me a better understanding of production agriculture and the industry as a whole. For so long, working on the farm was just a job to me. I never put much thought into the complex processes or the bigger purpose I was serving. My internship has made me realize what separates agriculture from any other industry: it’s not just a job, it’s a passion. Farmers and everyone involved in the agricultural industry don’t think twice or complain about working 15 hour days, because it’s what we enjoy doing. 

Jeff Hadachek

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Taylor Oller: A Word from an MKC Intern

My name is Taylor Oller and I am an MKC agronomy intern at Haven this summer. I am from the small town of Partridge, Kan., and currently enrolled at Kansas State University to pursue a degree in agricultural education with a minor in agronomy. My summer internship has given me opportunity for many first hand experiences and knowledge I believe will help me along my education and career path. I have also met and worked alongside many amazing people who have helped me with my endeavors this summer.

Growing up, I always helped my parents at harvest time even if it was mostly riding along in the wheat truck. Like every summer of my life, the beginning of my internship revolved around wheat harvest. I helped everywhere from working the scale, grading the wheat, learning how the elevator runs and even complete a summer project over Haven’s harvest time efficiency. I have worked as a scale girl before, but nothing with this much depth and learning along with it.

I also had the chance to receive a broader view of the agronomy side of the MKC. I had the opportunity to help plant a test plot, learn about our chemical and fertilizer processes, and even got to ride in a spray rig. All of these are new experiences have opened my eyes to the field of agronomy as a whole.

I am incredibly grateful for all of the knowledge and opportunities MKC has given me this summer. My mentors and co-workers are always there to help me and answer my questions. When MKC employees say, “Shared growth. Shared success.” they are not messing around. When one person grows, we all grow. When one person succeeds, we all succeed. This has been one of the biggest takeaways from my internship thus far. There is still plenty more to learn this summer and I cannot wait to see what is in store!  



Friday, July 10, 2015

Ross Niehues: A Word from an MKC Intern

My name is Ross Niehues and I am the MKC precision agronomy intern this summer. So far, this summer has been an extremely rewarding experience that continues to outdo itself each and every day. As the first intern to specifically work alongside MKC’s precision agriculture department, I have been met with many new experiences allowing for a unique and enjoyable story to tell every evening when I return home.
            Growing up, I was constantly finding something to do outside. My favorite activity, by far, was spending the day with my uncles at the family farm near my hometown of Seneca, Kan. I imagine my parents were bewildered when I begged and pleaded to go out and pick up rocks in the field with my uncles. As I became older, I was fortunate to have a job with a small cattle operation where I could spend time outdoors while I worked. While attending Kansas State University, where I will be a senior this fall, I realized I wanted to pursue an opportunity to work outdoors while gaining a deeper knowledge of agriculture.
            MKC, along with my mentor Ross Benisch, precision agriculture specialist, have provided the agricultural knowledge I was in search of. For my primary summer project, I have been collecting data from our variable rate seeded fields by conducting stand counts and will soon be estimating yields. Next, I will analyze and prepare a spreadsheet and summary of my findings. The data collected will then be presented to the grower and MKC field marketers. My goal for this project is to better educate the grower and field marketer of potential issues in the field and ultimately help advance their operations. In addition to this project, I have started to grid sample a field and create corresponding maps. I will present the results to the grower as he begins to build his field in the coming years. This additional project will give me valuable experience using computer programs to interpret the soil test and accurately prepare prescriptions the grower can use to increase the yield potential.
            I look forward to work each morning, and enjoy never knowing what is in store for me. I have experienced first hand MKC’s slogan of “Shared Growth, Shared Success” and the employees genuinely believe in
and live this motto. This will be a summer I cherish for years to come and I look forward to everything MKC still has in store for me until fall.

Thanks for reading,

Ross Niehues

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Jacob Berglund: A Word From an MKC Intern

By Jacob Berglund, TMA intern

Growing up, I was always asked what do you want to be or do when you grow up. Until now, I have always struggled to answer that question. But I now know I want to be in agricultural sales.

I grew up on a farm in Louisburg, Kan., which is about 30 to 45 minutes south of downtown Kansas City. I am currently a junior at Kansas State University majoring in agricultural technology management with a minor in agronomy. My family farm relies mostly on cattle, and right now that’s treating us pretty well. Though the farm is a great place, I decided if I wanted to land my dream job of being a salesperson I was going to need to know how to do more than fix fence and drive a tractor. Luckily, MKC and TMA were generous enough to offer me an internship with them this summer.

So far, this summer has been an interesting one to say the least. I’ve had the opportunity to meet new people, visit many new places and experience many new things while working with TMA. Most days I visit the countryside with field marketers who teach me the ins and outs about grain marketing. I’ve also learned a lot about what it takes to build trust with a customer and how important it is to have a rapport with your customers. As one of the field marketers told me, “Customers need to be able to trust you because you are dealing with their means of support.” Building customer relationships is what TMA and MKC strive to do every day and they will go out of their way to meet the needs of the producer.

As a summer intern we have the opportunity to work on a summer project. I chose to take samples of grain and test them for protein, test weight and moisture. The objective of my project is to gain a better understanding of what the cooperative has in our grain bins. The higher the protein the more money it is worth per bushel. With the help of my mentor Devin Schierling, TMA grain marketing manager, I have completed my testing and I am currently working to get my data on a spreadsheet to send to MKC location managers. So far it has been a great experience and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store for me.

Have a great Fourth of July,
Jacob Berglund

Monday, June 29, 2015

Arissa Moyer: A Word from an MKC Summer Intern

By Arisa Moyer, MKC accounting intern

As MKC strives to share growth and success with their customers, they are also helping young men and women grow their professional careers. Through their internship program, MKC is helping students find their niche in the agricultural industry.

This summer, I am working at the Moundridge office as the accounting intern. I have been interested in agricultural finance since high school, however, I did not realize the job opportunities outside of agricultural lending. The internship program has offered me many opportunities to learn a variety of accounting skills that are applicable in the agricultural workforce. As a senior at Kansas State University, majoring in agribusiness and a minor in leadership studies, this internship is what I needed to help gain insight into the many career options.

As the accounting intern, my goal this summer is to understand and analyze financial accounting and reporting. To accomplish this, I’m working on a company fuel audit and gathering and entering account payable discounts, automated clearing house documentation and W-9 information.  In addition, I have learned how to complete daily tasks of such as keying in accounts payables, printing checks and processing customer payments.
As the summer continues, I will be completing the monthly expense reports for the summer months and distributing monthly manager reports. 

I have also been to various locations to learn how MKC uses the perpetual inventory system. I learned how to help locations keep accurate records of inventory, while catching any billing or product errors. One really has to utilize their problem solving skills to find inventory errors!

Growing up on a cattle ranch north of Emporia, Kan., my agronomic and cooperative system knowledge wasn’t very deep. So in addition to my individual project, I have been able to go to the WinField Answer Plot, tour the MKC Groveland agronomy facilities and learn how farmers are using precision agriculture today. I am looking forward to more experiences to allow me to gain a better understanding of this sector of agriculture.

After the workday is over, I enjoy checking out local restaurants and shops in central Kansas suggested by the administration office staff. It has been fun to explore rural Kansas. Everyone I work with at MKC has been so welcoming and does not mind me asking a lot of questions.  I look forward to what the rest of the summer holds!

Arissa Moyer

Friday, June 19, 2015

Nathan Lanier: A Word from an MKC Summer Intern

By Nathan Lanier, MKC IT intern

For most of my life I’ve never been too far away from MKC, So when I was looking into internships I thought why not look into a company I’m familiar with. I’m Nathaniel Lanier and have the opportunity to work for MKC as the Information Technology intern this summer.
I grew up in Walton, Kan., just a few miles east of the MKC elevator. I will be starting my fourth year at Fort Hays State University this fall and am majoring in information technology and telecommunications. I love everything in information technology, including broadcasting, basic user support and network architecture. I’m currently pursuing certifications in information security, video production, network routing and switching. I currently have a certification in audio production.

Outside of basic user support and new device setup, my daily tasks are more project based. For instance, I am currently working on deploying the anti-virus software update as we move to the cloud for management, allowing MKC to open up server rack space. Also, I am helping Bill Sroufe, user/computer support specialist for MKC, initialize scales for harvest. This consists of making sure each scale gets the correct database update and has a connection to the TMA office. We also assure the printers are correctly set up. A task I worked on last week was punching down Ethernet jacks in the new offices at Moundridge. 

Another task is visiting locations to service and update specific technology. My first location call was at Lindsborg where their UPS (un-interruptible power supply) was dead and they had an issue with a phone after a company-wide phone update. Some upcoming projects consist of helping with the 50th Annual Stockholders’ Meeting and the migration from Office 2013 to Office 365. I will also be going to the Burns location soon to help rewire the network after their office renovation is complete.

I’m already enjoying everything I’ve been doing even if it doesn’t always work. I’m getting the experience I wanted and the opportunity to work with things you normally wouldn’t at school. I like being able to observe new technologies in my work. My department is really involved and dedicated, but they also like to have fun when they work. I look forward to being more involved in supporting the company throughout the summer, and I appreciate the opportunity to get the experience that I want and need to further my education and future career.

Nathan Lanier

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cassidy Stimpert: A Word from an MKC Summer Intern

By Cassidy Stimpert, MKC intern

Hey, everyone! My name is Cassidy Stimpert. I will be a junior at Kansas State University this fall and I am interning at the Manhattan location this summer. For a little background on me, I grew up on a farm in Medicine Lodge, Kan. My parents’ operation consists of dry and irrigated farm land, a cow-calf operation, alfalfa, as well as custom swathing and baling. This could keep a person busy enough to make their head spin. Being the last kid at home, for about six years now, my dad wasn’t too happy to hear I wanted to find an internship. I had to explain “ranch hand” isn’t a substantial job to list on your resume if you want to have a job off the farm. Plus, the heat just isn’t my thing! Thankfully, MKC took me under their wing and for only being a week and a half in, man, have I learned a lot!

Recently at the Manhattan location, the counter and scale specialist, Phil, retired and his replacement, Katelin, was hired. Now to make it a little more complicated, Katelin is expecting a little one in the middle of July. This is very exciting for her, but also a little scary for me since I will be taking over her position during her leave. For the past week and a half, I have been learning how to take orders for the feed mill which includes making the rations and then billing those feed orders once they are delivered. Also, I have been learning how to use the accounting software and familiarizing myself with all the different types of feed, fertilizer and merchandise we offer at our location. And let me tell you, there is a lot! Lastly, I have been learning the scale and all the different tickets that come with it. Through all of these responsibilities I have met some great people, heard so many stories, have learned so much and best of all, my fridge is completely stocked with garden veggies and homemade sauerkraut a co-worker brought me!

Cassidy Stimpert

Monday, June 8, 2015

Shane Eck Graduates KARL Leadership Program

“The Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program helped the Class XII leaders find a way to change their world by building on their integrity, confidence, discipline, professionalism, self-development, global viewpoint & servant ethos. Our newest KARL Graduates now possess a sense to serve and follow, in order to LEAD” stated Al Davis, President of Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership, Inc.   Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership, Inc. during the Power of One Seminar, Manhattan.  “Rural Kansas, the agricultural industry, our state, nation and world need your leadership…now get to work!” 

Shane Eck, Senior Location Manager at MKC's Lindsborg location is among this year's alumni class. 

The KARL Inc board of directors, graduates and donors celebrated the commendation of the 30 newest alumni of the two-year advanced state-wide leadership training experience. The KARL Program is a two-year educational experience offering intensive study, training and travel for emerging leaders in agriculture and rural communities.

“Our new leaders participated in nine in-state seminars.  Study tours over the past two years included a national seminar entitled Blue Chip, which is an executive review of a Fortune 500 corporation’s strategic management processes,hosted by Burlington Northern Sante Fe in Ft Worth, Texas; a tour to Washington DC to study decision making on the federal level and an International Study Tour to South Africa, providing a capstone to the intensive 52 day experienced over a two year period.  

Jack Lindquist, KARL Graduate Program Director, welcomed the new alumni into the KARL GRADUATE PROGRAM, the next step in learning experiences for graduates of the KARL Program. “Now that you have completed the two-year program you are each full members of the KARL Graduate Program, a life-time appointment. As well, graduate spouses, or adult guests are able to participate with you.  The greatest benefits of the KARL Graduate Program are to: 1) support the two year KARL Program to help expand your network 2) provide life-long learning and professional improvement opportunities for your family 3) enhance quality of life experiences through cultural exchange travel opportunities and 4) to greatly enhance network development with other state and international agricultural leadership alumni and networks beyond the KARL family network”, Lindquist summarized. 

To view more information regarding the new class, alumni, the curriculum and program goals visit the web site at

Friday, June 5, 2015

Katie Rose: A Word from an MKC Summer Intern

By Katie Rose, MKC communications intern

Within the first hour of driving into McPherson, I was greeted with a torrential downpour and a tornado warning. Now, being from Texas and attending Oklahoma State University, I was not unfamiliar to either of these things, but my hope for the summer was it would not be like this storm, scary and overwhelming. Luckily, it has been nothing of the sorts.
As the MKC communications summer intern, I have been met with many fun and exciting projects which I cannot wait to dive further into. From working on blog posts to posting graphics on the MKC Facebook page, it has been nothing but busy and awesome. The first day I spent at the Moundridge office, I was greeted by a welcoming and friendly staff. They have all been incredibly helpful and very willing to lend a hand when needed, especially when it comes to the office printer.
My summer will include a great overview of the role a communications department plays within a cooperative. Some of the writing projects I will be working on this summer include articles and stories for the MKC Connections newsletter, blog posts, and the employee newsletter, which I will be leading for the June and July issues. I will also be expanding my design skill set, and have already been busy creating Flush Flash and Fact Friday graphics. If you happened to see the interns on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter recently, I was the one behind the camera documenting our outings. One responsibility I have not had much experience with but am excited for the opportunity to be involved with is the planning and preparation of the 50th Annual MKC Stockholders’ Meeting in July.
I am excited to be able to work with my mentors Kerry Watson, MKC Director of Communications, and Nichole Gouldie, MKC communications specialist. They both know their stuff and I could not be happier to be under their guidance. I am also very thankful for their patience with all the questions and help thus far.
What I hope to gain from this experience, besides understanding the role a communicator plays, also is to attain a deeper understanding of this sector of agriculture and all the pieces required for it to properly function and thrive. I hope I am able to help MKC as much as they will help shape my future and skills this summer. I am very excited to see what the summer holds and what I will be able to learn from this internship experience.
Katie Rose
MKC Communications Intern

Friday, May 29, 2015

MKC Welcomes Summer Interns

By Katie Rose, MKC communications intern

Some college students study abroad or go home for the summer. Others attend summer school and some spend their time at an internship gaining experience in their field of study. This summer, 12 students chose the latter and MKC welcomed them on board on May 26.

On their first day at MKC the interns spent time getting orientated with MKC and heard from MKC employees from varying departments including safety, communications, Team Marketing Alliance and were welcomed by President and CEO Dave Christiansen.

The second day of orientation was spent at the Winfield Answer Plot near Inman. Armed with mud boots, the interns gained a basic knowledge of agronomy, which will be a vital part in all of their summer experiences.

Eric Hanson, Winfield agronomist, led a portion of the morning where the interns looked at growth rate of corn, damage from heavy rains and learned about a variety of chemicals to apply to corn and soybean crops. The interns also heard from Holly Thrasher, WinField technical seed manager, who discussed plant population and nitrogen inputs in corn and soybean varieties. Elizabeth Koch, WinField agriculture technology specialist, also shared yield maps and profit projection maps developed by the Winfield R7© Tool.

“The best part of the day was definitely the hands-on parts and getting to look at the effects of different diseases,” said Cassidy Stimpert, Manhattan location summer intern.

The afternoon was spent at the 2015 WinField Agronomy Summer Intern Training in Inman with cooperative interns from across the nation. The program was kicked off with an overview of how a cooperative system operates, examples of cooperatives across the nation and the Seven Basic Cooperative Principles. 
Later, Andy Schmidt, Winfield regional agronomist, walked the students through the basic weed and insect identifications the agronomy interns could potentially see in the field this summer.

The interns were encouraged to download the NutriSolutions© 360 System app developed by WinField, which is a tool used in the field by the agronomy staff to help track tissue samples collected and sent to testing labs. They were also given resource books that will be able to assist them in the field. The interns also had the opportunity to hear from WinField employees who gave tips based off their previous internship experiences.

Koch told the interns to not be afraid of networking and to work hard and play harder. A reoccurring piece of advice for the interns was to not be afraid of trying new things and asking questions. In closing, Brian Townley, WinField agronomy adviser, told the interns this is a great time for them to be in agriculture.

“Hearing how important internships are and how they are the pathway to starting a career was the most impactful from the sessions,” said Taylor Oller, Haven location summer intern.

After the sessions in Inman, all the training participants were invited back to the Answer Plot to receive more hands-on experience in the field. MKC interns were asked to determine the growth stage of corn using the number of collars on the plant and scout fields while also identifying potential problems corn could be facing.

The interns are very excited for the summer and what they can take away from their experience. “I’m looking forward to getting out in the field, and working on equipment of high importance,” said Nathaniel Lanier, MKC information systems intern. “If a scale goes down during harvest I get to help get things working again.”

Be sure to say “hi” if see an MKC intern this summer!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Members Take Advantage of the Domestic Production Activity Deduction

Everyday is an excellent time to make sure you are maximizing profit and taking advantage of all potential deductions available. One deduction available to farmers which MKC can pass through to its’ members is the Domestic Production Activities Deduction (DPAD). Grain farmers can use this deduction to reduce the total income tax they must pay to the federal government.

According to tax professional Jim Graber, the DPAD has saved his clients well over $100,000 in the 2014 tax season with his average client saving approximately $1,000 through the deduction. Graber sees both sides of this deduction as he is also a producer near Newton.

One concern Graber has is some producers and tax preparers don’t understand how the per-unit retains is to be reported. Graber says if done correctly the per-unit retains is reported on the dividend line along with the dividend and then subtracted from the grain sales line. “The DPAD is then placed on the form 8903 and added to other DPAD the farm may produce,” he says. “If someone says the per-unit retains and the DPAD is increasing taxes, something isn’t being done right.” Graber comments besides lowering the tax, the DPAD can also result in increased earned income credit, retirement savers credit, less of social security taxed, and many other benefits that result when Adjusted Gross Income is lowered. 

Graber encourages all MKC members to take advantage of this opportunity to maximize their deductions. “A benefit of doing business with MKC compared to other businesses is sharing in the profits through patronage refunds and also sharing in the DPAD deduction the co-op has been able to pass back to its patrons,” Graber says. 

Graber encourages all producers to do the math when deciding where they choose to haul their grain. “This deduction also has a significant positive financial impact on the local communities and MKC members,” he says.

How is the DPAD calculated?
According to TMA Controller Tricia Jantz, the tax benefit is a separate calculation from patronage and is available to co-op members who delivered and sold grain through the co-op.

The following is a sample scenario showing the impact DPAD would make on an individual’s taxable income.

A farmer sold 20,000 bushels of grain that was delivered to an MKC facility for the twelve months ending on February 28. At year end, MKC declared a patronage rate of 20 cents per bushel and a domestic production activities deduction of 15 cents per bushel. Assuming this producer was a member of MKC, the producer would receive $4,000 through patronage and a $3,000 Domestic Production Activities Deduction.

MKC includes the amount of DPAD deduction on the 1099 PATR mailed in January. The 1099 PATR includes the amount of patronage dividend the co-op distributes as well as the amount of DPAD that is passed back to the patrons.

Section 199 Review
In the summer 2013, MKC announced they would be passing this significant tax deduction to producer members through DPAD. Often referred to as the Section 199 Tax Deduction, DPAD is a special federal income tax provision allowing a cooperative to allocate to its members a tax deduction generated by “qualified production activities.” As outlined by the Internal Revenue Service and as it relates to the DPAD, grain payments made by the co-op to its members are considered qualified production activities by the cooperative, thus making the co-op and its members eligible for the deduction.

Jantz says producers will automatically be included in the deduction as long they are a member of MKC, have signed a Master Marketing Agreement required by the IRS, sold grain to the co-op and initiated grain settlements either by check or ACH.

“One requirement we get a lot of questions about is the Master Marketing Agreement,” Jantz says. “The agreement is between the member and cooperative that outlines and documents the terms, obligations, warranties and remedies in regards to sales and purchase contracts.  It also acknowledges that grain purchases between the cooperative and member constitute “per unit retain allocations” for the purposes of calculating the Domestic Production Activities Deduction.” Jantz noted a similar Master Marketing Agreement is already included with all TMA grain purchase contracts and is a very quick and easy process that can either be done electronically or as a printed agreement. According to Jantz, 2,178 MKC members participated in the DPAD for tax year 2014.

DPAD for MKC Members
“I am extremely grateful for this tax deduction as a producer and for the amount of money it saves the clients I work with,” Graber says. “I appreciate the work many MKC and TMA employees did to make this deduction possible.”

Although it may seem complicated, the Domestic Production Activities Deduction can prove beneficial in reducing income tax liability from your farming operation. If you still need to meet all of the requirements to take advantage of the tax deduction, please contact Sarah Unruh, MKC staff accountant, at 800-864-4428. 

Please consult your tax adviser for further information on DPAD and how it applies to your individual situation.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ease of Doing Business Through Online Portal Accounts

It wasn’t that long ago your doctor walked into the exam room with a laptop instead of that thick, awkward file they normally carried. This signaled a new era in medical practice. But that isn’t the only field the virtual world is making business easier in.

Agriculture has seen technology introduced in many arenas. To meet the customer’s needs, MKC saw the need to offer technology to help customers manage their accounts and have the information easily accessible at times when it is convenient for them.

For Les Wedel, the online portal certainly makes non-field work easier. “With everything going on, anything that makes something more convenient is a great thing,” Wedel says. “And that is exactly what the online portal provides.”

Wedel signed-up for MKC and Team Marketing Alliance online portals two years ago. After attending a workshop at his nearby location and some practice, he was soon paying bills online and checking purchases. “The website is very user friendly and easy to access,” Wedel says. He was also checking grain tickets at his convenience. “After deliveries, I can check grain tickets in the evening or first thing the next morning,” he says. “I haven’t had to visit the office to take care of the business I can do online for several years now.”

The Goessel area farmer appreciates how he can use the portal anytime. “I am often on the website late at night after the co-op has closed checking proof of yields or contracts,” Wedel commented. “I schedule the payments of my monthly statement and know that it will be paid on time and I don’t have to worry about it later.”

During tax preparation season, Wedel appreciates being able to check figures and download ledger sheets for his inputs. He adds during planting season he uses the portal most often to check prepay.

Burns area farmer John Taylor often doesn’t think to call his MKC location or field marketer until late in the evening. “Instead of having to remember to call the next morning about my questions, I can access my account online and see if I can answer my question through the information available to me there,” Taylor says.

Like Wedel, Taylor uses the portal to review his statement and pay his bill. He also easily extracts proof-of-yield information needed for farm programs and looks at his grain contracts.

“All of this information is at my fingertips,” Taylor says. “The information can be itemized and I can go back six months, even a year, to review information that is critical to my operation.”

Taylors says sometimes the need arises to review this information with his field marketer. Prior to Taylor’s online portal account, they would have to sort through statements and pull everything out. “Now my account can be quickly accessed on a computer and my questions can quickly be answered by looking at my online account together,” he explains.

Both Wedel and Taylor encourage producers to take advantage of this technology. “It sure makes doing business a lot easier than it was 10 years ago,” Wedel says.

To establish online access to your MKC account, please visit or call 800-864-4428. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Inches, Not Just Acres

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

For many producers, farming is measured in inches, not just acres. As Darcy Nickel and hundreds of other farmers begin preparing the soil or planting their crops each year, an increasing number are turning to the technology in precision agriculture to optimize their crop.

In fact, precision agriculture is becoming more of a regular practice that many farmers have integrated into their operation without considering it a form of precision agriculture anymore. With nearly every tractor, sprayer and combine utilizing GPS auto-steer systems and various monitors, precision agriculture is being implemented on more and more farms every day.

The changes in technology are exciting for Nickel, beginning his fifth year using
Benisch reviews field data with
Goessel area producer,  Darcy Nickel.
precision agriculture. Nickel is the first to point out that each field of his is different but with a number of services MKC offers for precision agriculture through the Optimal Acre Program, Ross Benisch, MKC precision agriculture specialist, and he can customize a plan for each field.

Precision agriculture uses technology to compile data for farmers so they can operate more efficiently, thus better managing production costs, increasing production and increasing profits. Essentially, it is a practice that uses detailed, site-specific information to accurately control and manage inputs, Benisch says.

Benisch said farmers traditionally spread uniform rates of fertilizers, seed and irrigation across their farms. One field may have several different soil types and fertilizer needs, he said, and the amount of bushels it would grow can vary significantly from acre to acre.

"Through the MKC Optimal Acre Program, precision agriculture uses technology and data the farmer owns to increase input efficiency and bushels per acre," Benisch says. "The goal is to help producers place their inputs for optimum return on investment."

Ten years ago, the market was focused heavily on GPS guidance for machinery because of the instant results the growers saw with improved in-field productivity, reduced operator fatigue and the ability to operate machinery for longer hours. "After GPS, it moved toward more site specific agriculture like the creating of variable rate prescriptions for inputs such as crop nutrients, lime, seed and irrigation water," he says.

"We take a practical approach to our precision ag," says Nickel, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat. "We use it as an overall management tool where it makes sense instead of using it on every acre."

Costs are a determining factor when choosing whether or not to use precision agriculture, but Benisch says farmers are quickly finding they can be profitable using the data that is collected. While there is cost involved to get started to gather the field data to make the variable rate prescriptions, the data can be used for several years before testing is needed again.

"Often, the increase in input efficiencies results in the data paying for itself," Nickel says. "With the help of MKC, our farm looks at the precision ag data we collect as an investment rather than an expense because of the many benefits we have seen on our own operation."

As for the precision ag services currently offered by MKC, Benisch says they like to start with grid sampling because it tests for many key factors including soil nutrients and pH which are vital for every crop grown. "With the grid sample results, we can then variable apply many products to increase application accuracy," he says. "MKC has the equipment to variable apply lime and crop nutrients so the farmer doesn’t have to own any extra equipment to take advantage of what grid sampling can offer."

As farmers keep records of this information year after year, patterns begin to emerge and the information gained from GPS technology becomes a valuable reference upon which to base vital management decisions.

Nickels says one of the most important purposes of the Optimal Acre Program is it gives them the opportunity to optimize their yield potential and effectively use crop inputs year after year after year.

"The more data a farmer collects the more we can customize each field to achieve maximum profitability over time," Benisch says. He recognizes not everyone has the same goals in mind so it makes sense to start with the important base layers of information and expand in the other services MKC offers. He also notes over time, the information that is valued for a particular field will most likely be collected and acted on, while other fields may not need the same layers of information to make good management decisions for the upcoming year.

"Each field is unique. The more pieces of data we have to help solve the yield puzzle, the more accurate we are going to be with our vrt prescriptions and the producer will have a greater return on investment," Benisch says. MKC uses the information the grower has and combines it with the field data collected to put together a customized program that best fits the growers operation, he says.

"It is often hard to tell people about our appreciation for precision agriculture," Nickels says. "I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning more to ask MKC."

Visit with an MKC location for more details on the Optimal Acre program and see how precision agriculture can benefit your operation.

Monday, January 19, 2015

His Passion Knows No Age

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

William "Bill" Taylor loves to work on the land. He awakes early every morning to continue his passion of farming that started when he was a young boy in the 1930’s.

Taylor, now 93, has lived near Manhattan his entire life besides the three years he served in World War II until he was honorably discharged from the military in December of 1945.

Taylor drove a halftrack (a vehicle with wheels in front for steering and tracks in the back) and saw many battles first hand during World War II including D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. Taylor was deeply moved by his war experience, but does not talk about his combat experiences much.

Born in Manhattan in 1921 and raised near Wamego, Taylor described his childhood as typical of that of a Depression-era family. "My parents did a little farming but it was tough," Taylor says.

As hard as his rural life might have been, he enjoyed it enough to pursue a career of farming and raising cattle. "I love the cattle," Taylor says. "Always have and always will."

Taylor says one of the best parts about his chosen livelihood is that he is his own boss and noted the weather and government regulations have been the most difficult to work with.

After returning from the war, Taylor met Lorna, a farm girl from Wheaton, Kansas. They married in 1948 and are still together today. The Taylor’s have one son, two grandsons and five great-grandchildren.

Returning to the Farm
After returning home from the war in 1945, the G.I. Bill provided Taylor with a loan to start a farm of his own. But Taylor couldn’t find an inch of farm ground. He did the next best and got a job at the Kansas State University Agronomy Farm. It was there Taylor learned a lot about farming. "I read whatever I could get my hands on to learn," he says.

After discovering he could draw funds from the G.I. Bill for four more years if he was actively engaged in farming, he contacted the farmer he worked for in high school. "The gentlemen sold me half of his cowherd and some machinery on a note," Taylor said. "After four years, I was eager to find more land. I ended my ties with my boss and was out on my own."

In 1949, Taylor became a member of the Farmers Union Cooperative. "Our landlords were members, so [we] became members too," he says. Taylor recalls the local service station in Manhattan with the Farmers Union Co-op grain elevator beside it. "We picked up our feed there, got our flat tires fixed and delivered grain," he says. "It was similar to what we see today, just quite a bit smaller."

On the Land Today
A co-op member for 65 years, Taylor and Lorna recalled memories of attending the cooperative’s annual meetings in Manhattan.

To Taylor, the co-op has always been there. "It has been about convenience and good service," he says. "I grew up in the system so I guess you could say I don’t know any better."

As a long-time co-op member, Taylor was eager to attend the informational meetings prior to the merger of Farmers Cooperative Association and MKC. "At my old age I have seen many things change," Taylor said. "The merger and the co-op’s growth is a good change."

Farming alongside his grandson, Taylor says it takes a lot of time and resources to keep their operation running today. Taylor added he appreciates the expertise they receive from MKC.

When talking about the future, Taylor looks forward to getting ready to plant next year’s corn and soybean crops and watching his cattle finish out. "I have no plans to retire until I am called away," he says.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Connecting Youth to Agriculture

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

While farm fields are common sights around the predominately rural state we live, many students today aren’t attuned to agriculture. Although no one can discount the thousands of hours and hundreds of people who work diligently to spread the positive message about agriculture, there are still many young minds to educate.

At Grammy’s Pumpkin Patch, straw hats and chickens are common sites seen by
second grade students that visit Johnstown Farm.

For the fourth year, second grade students from McPherson elementary schools participated in Grammy’s Pumpkin Patch "In the Class and On the Farm" agricultural education program.

"For so long, I was taking our family’s farmstead south of Lindsborg for granted," says Laura Mourn, education coordinator at Grammy’s Pumpkin Patch. "Educators at heart, my mom, sister and I made it our mission to come up with a fun way to connect students with the farm."

Started in 2011, the family spearheaded the addition of the classroom element to their already two and a half acre pumpkin patch that welcomed visitors to the farm each fall.

The program is two-fold, Mourn says. The first part brings sisters and coordinators Angie Flippo and Mourn into the second grade classrooms. "These hands-on lessons are a basic introduction of the "what" and "why" of Kansas agriculture," she says.

In the classroom setting, students learn an age appropriate definition of agriculture. The definition all classes learn and recite is "agriculture is the process of preparing the soil to grow crops and livestock." The traditional classroom lesson prepares students to visit the farm.

"Most of the students don’t realize how agriculture affects them in their everyday life," Mourn explained. "We start with what the students ate that morning for breakfast or how they got to school, and almost always we can relate it back to agriculture."

Mourn added the second part of the program is a day at Johnstown Farm where students experience lessons in the core content areas taught through the lens of agriculture.

"Our lessons are in math, language arts, science and other basics, using curriculum emerged in agriculture," Mourn commented. "As an educator, I love the hands-on, real-life experience for the students."

For example, a lesson in math is taught talking about how a farmer isn’t going to count the number of seeds they will plant, instead they will estimate.

Mourn says because of sponsored support from MKC and other organizations, Grammy’s Pumpkin Patch was able to welcome nine second grade classes to the farm. In 2014, Grammy’s Pumpkin Patch reached 191 second graders.

"No matter the agricultural learning experience, hopefully the students will talk about the field trip at home, and that will in turn interest their parents and siblings," Mourn says.

All efforts made to educate youth help re-establish connections which once existed because farming was in everyone’s close family. Today that is not the case, making the need to teach about where food really comes from an increasingly important part of education.

MKC believes it is important, if not critical, for people to continue to have an idea about where their food comes from. "It is not a good thing if people believe milk comes from a carton," says Jeff Jones, MKC location manager at Haven. "Not recognizing a cow is ultimately responsible for milk production is not completely uncommon when we visit schools."

That is where MKC’s "Ag Everyday" presentation derived from. The presentation, developed for fourth grade students, discusses what grain is, what major grains are grown in Kansas, where the grain goes and what the grain is used for. To wrap up the presentation, MKC employees put together a "felt pizza" with the students and discuss where the ingredients come from. After putting together the "pretend" pizza, students get to enjoy a real slice of pizza.

"For kids, pizza is often a preferred food. And within a pizza, much of what farming supplies can be seen," Jones says. "The simple pizza in many ways encapsulates the variety of agricultural and food production into something all students can relate to."

Like many employees, Jones enjoys seeing the excitement in the classroom when the students make those real connections to agriculture. More than 75 presentations have been made by MKC employees since the program began in the fall 2012 by Shane Eck, MKC location manager at Lindsborg.

Grammy’s Pumpkin Patch and "felt pizzas" are certainly efforts which are on the right track to spread the positive message about agriculture.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Young Leaders Attend CHS New Leader Forum

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

Twelve representatives from MKC attended the 2014 CHS New leader Forum, a program that builds next the generation's leaders for agriculture and rural America.

Those attending from MKC were Andy and Michelle Herman of Wheaton; Curtis and Betsy Patrick of Lindsborg; Hilary Worcester of Manhattan; Jameson Eichman of Wamego; Lucas Hamm of Salina; Nichole Gouldie of Inman; Nick Mazouch of Marquette; Russell and Tiffany Rezac of Onaga; and Thayne Rawson of Lindsborg.  

They were among 300 young producers from across the U.S. participating in the program December 3 - 5 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in conjunction with the CHS annual meeting.

During the three-day forum, participants heard from leading experts on agriculture, leadership, cooperatives and risk management. Speakers included Carl Casale, president and CEO, CHS Inc.; Mark Mayfield, speaker author and ag ambassador; Dr. Greg McKee, director, Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives; and Terry McClure, board members, Nationwide and president, McClure Farms, LLC.

The New Leader Forum also featured a networking event with the CHS board of directors and participating in the 2014 CHS Annual Meeting, including workshops and the annual meeting business session.

CHS Inc. is a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States, diversified in energy, grains, and foods.