Paul Johnson, Lawrence, an organic farmer and lobbyist with the Kansas Catholic Conference, said subsidies do little for either rural populations or small farms.
He notes that Kansas consumers spend about $525 million a year on fruits and vegetables, yet only about $15 million worth of those crops is grown here.
It would take only 150,000 acres to grow enough fruits and vegetables to satisfy consumer demand in Kansas, according to studies done by Kansas State University in the Kansas River valley.
Johnson, a market gardener in the summer, recognizes that not all of the state would be suitable for fruits or vegetables. But he said Kansas is so focused on big agriculture that it misses the larger picture.
"I guess it's sexier or more handy to get into a $250,000 combine and ride the prairie," he said.
How does 150,000 acres compare with the amount of farmland in Kansas? It's basically nothing: Kansas has 10.3 million acres planted in wheat (according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service).
Image credit: Photo of the wheat harvest in the Palouse (Washington, Oregon, Idaho) from the USDA ARS Image Gallery.