Moundridge company participates in trade missions

The Kansas Department of Agriculture recently hosted two State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant trade missions to Foro Mascotas Pet Food International in Guadalajara, Mexico, and AGRO 2019 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The trade missions provided Kansas companies an opportunity to showcase and offer their products to an international audience. Companies participating in the trade mission to Mexico included Engineered Systems and Equipment (E.S.E), of Caney, and NorthWind Technical Services, of Sabetha. Companies participating in the trade mission to Ukraine included Moridge Manufacturing Inc. (Grasshopper Co.), of Moundridge, ShieldAg Equipment, of Hutchinson, and USC, of Sabetha.

“The STEP Grant was designed to help small businesses expand their exports. We’ve been fortunate in Kansas to have received the STEP grant to help Kansas farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses to explore new markets or increase the value of export sales in existing markets,” said Suzanne Ryan-Numrich, international trade director at KDA.

Exports are important to the Kansas economy. In 2018, over $3.8 billion of agricultural goods were shipped around the globe to 74 different countries.

The trade missions were sponsored by KDA and funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration using a STEP grant in cooperation with the Kansas Department of Commerce.

Ray Garvey, export manager at the Grasshopper Co., was among those who traveled to AGRO 2019.

“From my point of view, there are several aspects of the AGRO show that were a success,” Garvey said. “I want to thank the state of Kansas and the SBA for this opportunity to discover a new market in Ukraine. I’m looking forward to further exploring this market for my company.”

The Kansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to providing an environment that enhances and encourages economic growth of the agriculture industry and the Kansas economy including the further development and expansion of marketing opportunities for agricultural goods and services around the globe.

The KDA is offering an upcoming opportunity for Kansas farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses to participate in a livestock genetic trade mission to Uruguay this fall, from Sept. 10-16. Additionally, two STEP Grant trade missions are planned for 2020: VICTAM Asia/Petfood Forum Asia in Bangkok, Thailand, March 24-26; and NAMPO Harvest Day in Bothaville, South Africa, May 12-15. Interested persons should contact Ryan-Numrich at or 785-564-6704.


MKC offers health plan

MOUNDRIDGE — In response to the growing demand for more affordable and extensive healthcare options, through a partnership with Land O’Lakes Inc., MKC is offering the Land O’Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan to its producer members in Kansas.

The Land O’Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan, administered by Gravie Administrative Services LLC, a Minneapolis-based benefits marketplace, allows producers to choose from several ACA compliant plans — all of which cover each of the 10 essential health nenefits (EHBs). It also gives them access to a broad, national provider network and year-round guidance from licensed advisors.

“MKC recognizes that access to quality, affordable health care is a major concern for our member-owners,” said Dave Christiansen, MKC president and CEO. “Connecting farmers to this health care option for their family and employees allows us to deliver more value to their operation in the form of an affordable and improved health care coverage.”

Land O’Lakes first launched the Land O’Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan in Minnesota in 2018. The company then expanded the plan to Nebraska in 2019, making it available to approximately 46,000 eligible producers across the two states. It intends to continue to grow this solution for its member producers and farmers within its cooperative system.

The requirements for participation in the Land O’Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan include residing in Kansas and being an eligible voting member of MKC.

For coverage starting Jan. 1, 2020, the open enrollment period is from Oct. 28, 2019, through 5 p.m. Dec. 20, 2019.

Producers can call  844-538-4690 or visit to learn more.


Charlsens leave foundation

In 2014 Ellen Charlsen, while working with her financial adviser, wanted to ensure charitable support to her church and other charities that matter to her and her late husband, Jack. She established a donor advised memorandum for the Jack W. and Ellen M. Charlsen Charitable Fund that was established upon her death, making Central Kansas Community Foundation the beneficiary of her invested assets.

Ellen Charlsen died in February 2018, and in early 2019 the couple's first gifts of nearly $17,000 were distributed to her church, the VFW Foundation, Caring Hand Humane Society, a local college for a nursing scholarship and then an annual gift to the City of Newton for its K-9 program.

The couple gifted over $450,000 to the local community foundation to oversee their charitable gift plans. The foundation will manage the funds and make annual distributions to the five charitable causes outlined in their donor advised memorandum.

“The gift from the estate of Jack and Ellen Charlsen is a significant contribution to the ongoing education of future nurses at Bethel College. We thank Jack and Ellen for their commitment to the College, especially for their support of our Nursing Department,” said Brad Kohlman, vice president for institutional advancement.

Interim Chief Craig Dunlavy learned of the support of the Newton Police K-9 program saying, “we are overwhelmed by the generosity of members of our community.”

The Central Kansas Community Foundation is positioned to assist donors like the Charlsens with planned giving. For more information, visit or contact executive director Angie Tatro at 316-283-5474.