Students, alumni, agricultural leaders and politicians honor Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh for his global impact on ag policy.
With a booming, gravelly voice, Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, professor emeritus of agricultural economics at Kansas State University, taught and advised students, agricultural leaders and politicians on agricultural policy. As one of America’s leading experts on agriculture, Flinchbaugh’s influence can be seen in regional, national and global ag policies. But his greatest joy was teaching. Whether enlightening legislators on Capitol Hill, lecturing to students at Kansas State University, or sharing information with farmers and ranchers at field days and workshops, Barry Flinchbaugh was always ready to share his knowledge with anyone who was interested — and he did it with unmistakable flair.
Flinchbaugh passed away on November 2, 2020, at the age of 78. This straight-talking, cigar chomping (and later, lollipop chomping), intelligent, wise and kind man is greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. Jennifer Latzke, a Kansas agricultural journalist who wrote for the High Plains Journal and now works for Kansas Farmer regrets not taking one of Flinchbaugh’s classes while she was a student at K-State. However, she got to know him during her years of reporting. “I would sometimes run into Flinchbaugh in my work,” Latzke said. “Each time when I’d pull him aside for an interview, for a quote or to explain a political discussion point of his, he would make it a point to not just stop with a clever line. Ever the professor, he’d challenge me to think the answer through. ‘Well, Miss Latzke, now what do you think?’ he’d ask me. I’d ponder for a few seconds, come up with what I thought was an adequate response, and he’d reply with a letter grade. Those conversations were golden — seems like I got to take his class as a make-up after all in my professional career,” Latzke said.
Flinchbaugh was accused of partisanship at times, but he didn’t really care about political leanings. He only wanted government and ag policy to work and do what was best for Kansas farmers. In a 2015 Kansas Farmer story by P.J. Griekspoor, Flinchbaugh said, “Issues need to be settled, the economy needs certainty, the government needs to function. If elected officials don’t want it to function, they can and should be removed from office. We need less rhetoric and more facts, less mythology and more civility and reality and a whole lot less ideology.”
Barry Flinchbaugh challenged everyone to be a critical thinker, and that is the best way to honor him — think critically. Students and faculty at K-State strive to honor Flinchbaugh this way. Three funds at Kansas State University bear his name: a scholarship to support students studying ag policy, a faculty chair in the Department of Agricultural Economics in his honor, and the Wildcat Pride award, which recognizes a K-State faculty or staff member for his/her advocacy of alumni relations through support and participation in Alumni Association programs that engage members of the Wildcat family. To contribute, contact Kim Schirer via email or at 785-775-2090. You can also give to these funds online.
To watch Barry Flinchbaugh’s celebration of life service and see other video tributes, please visit Barry Flinchbaugh Celebration of Life | K-State Alumni Association.
Written by: Marisa Larson, with assistance from Jennifer Latzke, Kansas Farmer editor