The2nd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Wednesday, July 8, 2009, at 10:00 AM, at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Corporate Drive facility. Representative Tom McKee, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator David Givens, Co-Chair; Representative Tom McKee, Co-Chair; Senators Ernie Harris, Bob Leeper, Vernie McGaha, Joey Pendleton, Dorsey Ridley, Kathy W. Stein, and Damon Thayer; Representatives Royce W. Adams, Dwight D. Butler, Mike Cherry, Mike Denham, C. B. Embry Jr., Jeff Greer, Richard Henderson, Charlie Hoffman, Martha Jane King, Brad Montell, Fred Nesler, Sannie Overly, Don Pasley, Tom Riner, Dottie Sims, Kent Stevens, Wilson Stone, Tommy Turner, Ken Upchurch, and Susan Westrom.
Guests: PACE Board members Stephen A. Coleman, Frances Ann Brown, Teena Halbig, Cornelia Bonnie, Elizabeth Lloyd Jones, and Jim R. Mahan; Roger Thomas, Governor’s Office of Ag. Policy; and Drew Graham, University of Kentucky.
LRC Staff: Biff Baker; Lowell Atchley; Stefan Kasacavage; Dane Bowles, Graduate Fellow; and Susan Spoonamore, Committee Assistant.
Minutes of the June 10, 2009 meeting were approved by voice vote, without objection, upon motion made by Sen. Kathy Stein and seconded by Rep. Richard Henderson.
Chairman McKee recognized Commissioner Richie Farmer, Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Commissioner Farmer welcomed committee members and guests. He explained the importance of the motor fuel laboratory, metrology (weights and measures) laboratory, and pesticides testing laboratory.
Mac Stone, Executive Director, Office of Agricultural Marketing and Produce Promotion, talked about the success of the Kentucky Proud Program. He said that Kentucky Proud had reached $100 million in retail sales for 2008 and was expected to grow even more in 2009. They are working to increase the amount of Kentucky Proud Products sold in stores, restaurants, and schools through education and promotion.
Upon questioning, Mr. Stone stated that there was no one silver bullet for the success of the Kentucky Proud program. He mentioned that the food industry is very competitive, and locally-grown food is often more expensive than bulk food brought in from out of state. The key is getting a CEO or other manager of a grocery store chain to buy into the concept of Kentucky Proud. If a CEO “gets it” then they will be willing to pay a little more for produce in order to promote the program.
Mr. Stone indicated that in order for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Department of Education to come to an agreement on using more Kentucky Proud products, it would take a key person within the Kentucky Department of Education to recognize the health benefits and the importance of serving Kentucky Proud products.
Mr. Stone also indicated that the department was in the talking stage with retailers about branding milk produced in Kentucky as “Kentucky Proud”.
Next on the agenda was Mr. Tom Bloemer, Administrative Branch Manager, Office of Consumer and Environment Protection, Division of Regulations and Inspection. He explained the mission of the Motor Fuel and Pesticides Testing Laboratories. He said the KDA is an organizational member of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). He said that testing Kentucky facilities and products is the primary mission of the labs, but the labs will also be able to offer testing to federal and other state regulatory agencies, utilizing the most advanced testing instrumentation available in the world.
Upon questioning, Mr. Bloemer stated that water can be tested for pesticides and the laboratories will be able to perform that type of testing in the near future.
Next was Jason Glass, Division of Regulations and Inspection. Mr. Glass gave a brief overview of the Metrology lab. He explained that the lab provides calibration services and technical guidance for private industries, scale and meter repair companies, other state agencies, and weights and measures inspectors within the division. Weights, volumetric test measures and provers, and liquid propane provers are all calibrated by the metrology laboratory. The calibrations check and maintain the accuracy of the equipment used to set up, monitor, inspect, and repair all types of scales and meters throughout the state.
Next on the agenda was Dale Dobson, Farm and Home Safety Program. He explained that the Farm Safety Program is vital to keeping Kentuckians safe. He said that Kentucky is one of the leaders in rescue programs. The programs focus on training, ATV safety, and rescue. Kentucky has made great strides in reducing the number of farm-related deaths per year, but KDA is continually trying to get the number to zero. He said that the main safety issues are the use of roll bars and seatbelts.
Chairman McKee recognized Rep. Embry regarding milk producers in Kentucky. Rep. Embry stated that he has 32 milk producers in his district and that many are barely hanging on – right on the edge of going out of business. He would like the Committee to take up the issues facing dairy producers in a meeting during this interim.
Co-Chairman McKee and Co-Chairman Givens agreed that the issue was important, and would like to have discussion on the topic.
Upon conclusion of the presentations, tours of the different labs were conducted.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.