Jerry McReynolds, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers and a director of the Kansas Farm Bureau, said direct farm payments — annual payments based on historical crop yields — are a key piece in the safety net provided by the federal farm bill. In the western reaches of Kansas, the greatest limiting factor is a lack of rainfall, so much so that many farmers are forced to let land remain idle for a year to soak up enough moisture to supplement rainfall during the growing season. And with farmers dwindling in number and political clout, there is little that could be done, he said. The NAWG, which McReynolds is chairman of, along with its executive officer, Kansan Dana Peterson, has conducted surveys to determine just what is important to different ag groups, hoping to provide a unified voice when the farm bill comes around to renewal in 2012. Kansas Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus said, is the support both the Kansas group and the American Farm Bureau have given direct payments. While Baccus said it is good to discuss the issues, he said there has been no indication of any pivotal change in Kansas Farm Bureau support. The Kansas Farm Bureau will meet Nov. 19 and 20 for its annual meeting, at which time those sorts of things will be discussed. n Kansas, however, dry can mean little or no crop. That is why direct payments are important to Kansas farmers. Crop insurance is critically important, as well, but it is cost prohibitive to purchase much more than 65 percent to 70 percent insurance on growing crops. McReynolds said it is going to be a tough fight defending the direct payments when the 2012 farm bill talks begin. The farm bill, he said, is 74 percent nutrition while only 7 percent of the money in the bill goes to commodity programs. Another 9 percent is spent on crop insurance subsidies and 7 percent conservation.