On Friday April 5th, Michael Beam was confirmed by the Kansas Senate after the unanimous recommendation of the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources earlier in the week. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly nominated Mike Beam, Senior Vice President of Kansas Livestock Association, in January to lead the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) and the more than 300 employees who work for the agency. KDA advocates for the agriculture industry, encourages economic growth in agriculture, ensures a safe food supply, protects natural resources and safeguards animal health. “Mike Beam is a respected leader in Kansas agriculture and uniquely qualified to provide guidance and innovation at the Department of Agriculture,” said Governor Kelly. Beam came to Kansas Livestock Association in 1980 and during his time at KLA, Beam was appointed by governors and state agency secretaries to serve on numerous high-level working groups discussing the Flint Hills, prescribed burning, conservation programs, ecotourism, deer hunting and wildlife management. Mike is a 1974 graduate of Esbon High School and is the son of Thelma and John Beam of Esbon. Following is Mike Beam’s confirmation speech on April 3rd, 2019, to the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Good morning Mr. Chairman and Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee members. I’m honored to be considered for the appointment as the Secretary of Agriculture of Kansas. I’d like to take the opportunity during these opening comments to share with you my personal background, highlights of my professional career and my perspective regarding the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
I’m the first of six children of John and Thelma Beam of Esbon, Kansas. We were raised in this small farming community in Northwest Jewell County. My parents, who are still actively living in the Esbon community, represent the second generation of Beam Family Farms. Our parents showed us how to work long hour days, take pride in our efforts, continually strive to learn and gain knowledge, serve our communities, respect and support our neighbors, be grateful for our blessings, and rely on our faith in times of stress or despair. I’m the proud product of a small public school, 4-H projects and activities, and a tradition of locals waving at everyone we meet while traveling on country roads, regardless if it’s someone we don’t recognize.
Despite living off the farm for over 40 years, I still consider the Esbon farming community my home and maintain a strong devotion and admiration for all the people I personally know who live, work and raise their families in rural communities throughout Kansas.
Upon graduation from Colby Community College and Kansas State University, I served as a county extension agent in Dickinson County for two years. The balance of my professional career was spent on the staff of the Kansas Livestock Association, which is a voluntary trade association formed 125 years ago. In addition to general membership duties and educational programs, I served as a governmental affairs representative of KLA for 35 years.
During my career in governmental affairs I participated in numerous legislative debates in this building on issues including farm machinery taxation, use-value appraisal of agricultural land, fence laws, corporate farm law amendments, water and natural resources bills, and animal health laws. In addition to legislation, I often advised state agencies on matters impacting farmers and ranchers throughout Kansas. In fact, I’ve had the privilege to know and work with the past ten Kansas Secretaries of Agriculture.
During my tenure in governmental affairs I learned several valuable lifelong lessons. First, always strive to be courteous and listen to others who have a differing perspective and opinion. Second, seldom does any legislation become law if other stakeholders are not involved in the process. Last and most importantly, my predecessors and peers showed me how to navigate stormy waters in a nonpartisan manner. If confirmed, I pledge to continue this approach as a state official.
In addition to my governmental affairs role at KLA, I helped ranchers form and grow the Ranchland Trust of Kansas. This nonprofit conservation organization is an agricultural land trust that assists landowners in permanently conserving their working lands.
The success of the Ranchland Trust of Kansas should be credited to volunteers serving on the board of directors and numerous private and public partners who supported the organization’s mission and vision. I’m grateful for this experience and often remind myself that there’s no limit to what an organization can accomplish with a culture of inclusion and collaboration.
Now it’s time for me to look ahead at a new challenge and opportunity. I’m humbled, yet ecstatic, about my nomination to be the next Kansas Secretary of Agriculture.
We consider agriculture the largest industry, employer and economic driver in Kansas, accounting for more than 42% of the state’s economy and valued at nearly $64 billion. More than 238,000 Kansans, or nearly 13% of the state’s workforce, are supported by agriculture. Kansas agriculture is quite diverse in its average rainfall and corresponding cropping system, with vibrant ranching communities in three large intact native grassland areas, and various sizes of traditional and specialty crop enterprises. In addition, the Kansas agribusiness community is a large employer that adds value to our state-grown commodities and livestock.
I see the role of the Kansas Department of Agriculture to assist and support our Kansas businesses when appropriate and welcomed. In addition, KDA is guided by many statutes passed by the legislature that assign responsibilities for:
- Administering laws relating to how water is used and allocated.
- Overseeing floodplain mapping.
- Regulating the construction of dams and levees.
- Administering cost-share land and water conservation programs.
- Administering programs that prevent, control and eradicate contagious diseases in livestock and domestic animals.
- Providing leadership in comprehensive emergency management planning for devastating events or threats impacting agriculture.
- Administering the Animal Facilities Inspection program for facilities that produce, sell or provide shelter for companion animals.
- Administering the noxious weed law.
- Inspecting dairy and commercial feed stuffs.
- Administering the state’s food safety and lodging inspection program.
- Regulating products used to control pests or enhance plant growth, as well as assist in monitoring usage for sensitive crops.
- Inspecting state-licensed meat processing facilities.
- Administering the hemp research program.
- Administering the state’s weights and measures program.
- Providing laboratory services that support regulatory programs.
- Coordinating business development, including the administration of the From the Land of Kansas program and organizing export trade missions.
- Coordinating the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program and Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
In closing I’d like to say that I’m honored to be appointed by Governor Kelly as the next Secretary of Agriculture. Mr. Chairman and Committee Members, I take the responsibility of the Kansas Secretary of Agriculture seriously. If confirmed I will continue my passionate devotion to the agriculture producers, agriculture businesses and the citizens of this great state. Most importantly, I will do so with a collaborative, team approach with the professional and devoted staff at KDA, the Kansas Legislature, the Administration and the many stakeholders of Kansas Agriculture and KDA.
I welcome your questions, suggestions and concerns now or at your convenience.
Thank you for considering my nomination.