Call to Order and Roll Call
The6th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator David Givens, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator David Givens, Co-Chair; Representative Tom McKee, Co-Chair; Senators Carroll Gibson, Paul Hornback, Bob Leeper, Vernie McGaha, Joey Pendleton, Dorsey Ridley, Damon Thayer, and Robin L. Webb,; Representatives Royce W. Adams, John "Bam" Carney, Mike Cherry, James R. Comer Jr., Mike Denham, C. B. Embry Jr., Sara Beth Gregory, Richard Henderson, Kim King, Martha Jane King, Michael Meredith, Terry Mills, Brad Montell, Fred Nesler, David Osborne, Sannie Overly, Ryan Quarles, Tom Riner, Steven Rudy, Rita Smart, Wilson Stone, Tommy Turner, and Susan Westrom.
Guests: Roger Thomas, Executive Director, and Joel Neaveill, Chief of Staff, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy; Mark Haney, President, Kentucky Farm Bureau; Tricia Houston, President, and Ben Able, Treasurer, Community Farm Alliance; Cassia Herron, Vice President, Metro-Louisville Food Policy Council; Linda Grimes, Chair, John Settles, and Keith Crawford, Kentucky Animal Control Advisory Board; Dr. Perry Wornall, Chair, and Ed Hall, Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners; and Phil Craft, State Apiarist, Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
The October 12, 2011 minutes were approved, without objection, by voice vote, upon motion made by Representative Henderson and second by Representative Rudy.
The Horse Farming Subcommittee report was approved, without objection, by voice vote upon motion made by Representative Westrom and second by Senator Thayer.
The Rural Issues Subcommittee report was approved, without objection, by voice vote upon motion made by Senator McGaha and second by Representative Denham.
Legislative Issues for 2012 Session
Roger Thomas, Executive Director, and Joel Neaveill, Chief of Staff, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP), updated the members on recent activities of the office and of investments made from the Agricultural Development Fund. Mr. Thomas stated that financial investments made to 4-H and FFA have enhanced youth leadership development. At the recent National FFA Convention, several Kentucky chapters won national awards, and one student the received the prestigious 2011 American Star in Agribusiness.
Mr. Thomas asked that two changes be made to the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation statutes: increase the $1 million loan cap on individuals, and amend the definition of “beginning farmer” to allow more people to be eligible for funding.
Mr. Neaveill explained that the Agricultural Development Fund provides funds for county programs and for investments in regional and state-wide projects. He noted that funding for regional and state-wide projects decreased in FY 2011 and is expected to decrease more in FY 2012. He clarified that funding for county programs has remained constant.
Mr. Thomas noted that the GOAP has distributed approximately $2 million of federal stimulus dollars, through the Farm Energy and Efficiency Program, to 200 recipients, and that his agency would continue to act as a conduit to distribute any federal dollars available.
Responding to questions, Mr. Thomas said arbitration hearings have taken place over the last two years regarding non-participating tobacco manufacturers, and that the issue is still being argued by the Kentucky Attorney General. Mr. Thomas warned that if a state is found guilty of not diligently enforcing the monitoring of the sale of non-participating manufacturers’ products, that state might be required to reimburse some, or all, of its Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payment.
It was noted by one member that several 4-H positions remained unfilled in tobacco impacted counties, thereby affecting youth involvement in leadership programs.
Mr. Mark Haney, President, Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB), explained that legislative policy issues for his agency start at the county level and are then forwarded to the state resolutions committee level for consideration. From there, resolutions are sent to the delegate body to be voted on. Mr. Haney said the Farm Bureau supports maintaining 50 percent of the MSA to the Agricultural Development Fund, funding the Breathitt Veterinary Center, adequately funding the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA), supporting the Kentucky Proud program, and supporting the Kentucky Soil Erosion and Water Quality Cost-Share program. The Farm Bureau recommends that the General Assembly pay $28 million in bond debt service, currently being taken from agriculture’s portion of the MSA, from General Fund revenue.
Mr. Haney also reported supporting the rural secondary and county road aid program, continuing the 22.2 percent allocation of the state gasoline tax revenue for rural roads, maintaining the Property Tax Cap law, protecting property rights, enforcing Kentucky’s trespass laws, and improving health care in Kentucky.
One other issue that Farm Bureau supports is allowing farmers to compost dead animals on the farm without having to acquire a permit. Mr. Haney stated that the KDA has agreed to repeal the permit requirement by filing an emergency regulation.
In response to a question, Mr. Haney stated that Kentucky Farm Bureau is against the Department of Labor’s proposed regulation regarding utilization of child labor on farms. The Department of Labor needs to understand that most farms are family farms, and restricting certain types of child labor on the farm will be a hardship on farmers.
Ms. Tricia Houston, President, Community Farm Alliance (CFA), said small farms in Kentucky could become profitable by growing and marketing their products locally and regionally. Developing farmer’s markets for all counties and supporting local food systems would help develop sales and benefit farmers. If Kentucky State Parks and at least one school district in every county utilized locally grown products, it could create a huge economic market for farmers.
Ms. Cassia Herron, Vice President, Metro-Louisville Food Policy Council, stated that the CFA has actively promoted Kentucky’s agricultural food policy and community development landscapes. CFA brings a public voice to the public policy making process and is proud of its commitment to diversifying and rebuilding Kentucky tobacco farm families and communities. She said that CFA was instrumental in the creation of the Metro-Louisville Food Policy Council, which works to identify and propose innovative solutions to improve local and state food systems.
Mr. Ben Able, Treasurer, CFA, discussed issues pertaining to beginning farmers. He said Kentucky needs a comprehensive vision for the next generation of farmers, and that input from existing farmers, potential farmers, students, and landowners who are not farmers is important for creating that vision. There is a need for additional research and information on alternative agriculture enterprises.
Ms. Houston said the CFA would like to see Kentucky create a Kentucky Food Policy Council. In addition, CFA has policy goals for 2012, including working on public perception of food systems, initiating research on the economic health benefits of a local and regional food system, creating production and marketing support systems, and increasing low income population access to local food.
Dr. Linda Grimes, Mr. John Settles, and Mr. Keith Crawford, Kentucky Animal Control Advisory Board members, described the activities of the board, including providing grant money to counties for improving or constructing animal shelters and providing grants for spay and neuter programs. Dr. Grimes said the board offers training to animal control officers. KDA has provided funds for training grants and equipments grants in the past, but because of budgets cuts, it is unable to provide funding to the board. Dr. Grimes stated that the last appropriation for shelter improvements or construction was $3 million in 2008. The board had over $6 million in requests for that money. On behalf of the board, Dr. Grimes requested that the General Assembly appropriate $3 million for animal shelter improvements and construction over the next biennium.
In response to questions, Mr. Settles stated that the primary source of funding for local animal control enforcement comes from the local governing body. Money for improving shelters or constructing shelters has come from state funding. Dr. Grimes stated that the board has received numerous requests from counties concerning large animals. County shelters are not equipped to handle livestock. She said several counties have asked for funding to construct paddocks and for training on how to deal with large animals.
Dr. Perry Wornall and Dr. Ed Hall of the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners stated that the board would like to update KRS Chapter 321, relating to veterinarians. Several clarifications and changes need to be made to conform the statutes to modern veterinarian practices.
Dr. Phil Craft, State Apiarist, KDA, stated that he is one of only two people in the state who work with an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 beekeepers. Current law relating to bees pertains mostly to diseases, but other issues such as parasites and non-native honeybees need to be addressed. Of particular concern is the importation of Africanized honeybees. Dr. Craft requested that the committee consider expanding the jurisdiction of the KDA to include parasites and undesirable races or subspecies of honeybees.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m.