Call to Order and Roll Call
The2nd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Wednesday, July 11, 2012, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, at the Owsley County High School, Booneville, Kentucky. 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 Paul Hornback, Dennis Parrett, Dorsey Ridley, and Robin L. Webb; Representatives C.B. Embry Jr., Sara Beth Gregory, Richard Henderson, Kim King, Michael Meredith, Terry Mills, Brad Montell, Sannie Overly, Ryan Quarles, Tom Riner, Rita Smart, Wilson Stone, and Tommy Turner.
Guests: Representative Keith Hall; Representative Marie Rader; Tim Bobrowski, Owsley County School Superintendent, Alan Taylor, Owsley County High School agriculture teacher; Luke McAnally, University of Kentucky Homegrown Kentucky project coordinator; Paul Sizemore, UK Extension Agent, Owsley County Farmerís Market; Sharon Spencer, Department of Agriculture, Statewide Developments; Dr. Janet Mullins, Associate Professor, UK Department of Nutrition and Food Science; Todd Howard, Floyd County; Darrin Gay, Gay Brothers Logging and Lumber, and Vice President of the Kentucky Forest Industries Association, along with Bob Bowers, Executive Director, Kentucky Forest Industries Association.
Owsley County Farm to School and Community Garden Initiative
Alan Taylor, Owsley County High School agriculture teacher and an elementary principal, said the County Farm to School and Community Garden Initiative offered students good farming practices, the growing and selling of their produce (entrepreneurship), and instructional time for labs so students would learn how to apply the appropriate amount of fertilizer. The program has exceeded all expectations with students and community involvement.
Luke McAnally, University of Kentucky Homegrown Kentucky project coordinator, explained that the community garden was developed as an initiative to be submitted to the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference in Washington, D.C. The project incorporates Kentuckyís educational, agricultural and economic systems. Students in grades 3 through 12 maintain the starter plants and the garden. The produce is used in the schoolís cafeteria for breakfast, lunch, and summer school programs. The initiative was selected by the Clinton Foundation to attend the Conference in Washington, D.C., which included a personal audience with former President Bill Clinton. The community garden initiative has been very successful with little financial help. It is hopeful that other Kentucky counties will consider a community garden project.
In response to questions from Senator Givens, Mr. McAnally said he and other students began by looking at areas, through the Appalachian Center, that would be successful. After talking with Owsley County officials, it was decided to start with Owsley County High School in Booneville. Finding land in other counties and the desire of a community to do it are factors in replicating another Farm to School and community garden initiative. Superintendent Tim Bobrowski said that funding cuts to education make it a challenge to start new projects. The vision has to come from within the community, teachers, community leaders, and students. Mr. Taylor stated that producing and marketing a product created a form of entrepreneurship. Growing and producing vegetables involves the use of science and math, such as learning how to calibrate a sprayer.
In response to Representative Brad Montell, Mr. McAnally stated that any excess produce would be sold at the Farmerís Market to help generate money for next yearís growing season. The program needs to continue with some grant money until it becomes sustainable. Mr. Taylor said that younger students, working side by side with the older students, learn how to plant seeds and become familiar with how food is grown.
In response to Senator Webbís questions, Mr. Taylor said that there is one young lady and four young men involved in the project during the summer. During the school year, an equal number of boys and girls are involved. Mr. Bobrowski stated that the Owsley County Conservation District has submitted an application for the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund 2012 Farmerís Market Infrastructure Competitive Grant Program, and a proposal for the USDA Farm to School grant. Businesses in the community have donated equipment for use by the students. The goal is to have a processing center for people to use to market their products.
In response to Representative Smart, Mr. Taylor stated that there were approximately 15 community members involved in growing their own plots. He said that he was not sure how many people were purchasing from the Farmerís Market. Besides growing vegetables, they also raise soybeans and corn. The proceeds from the soybeans and corn are returned to the school for the Farm to School and community garden initiatives.
In response to Representative Stone, Mr. Taylor said that the Future Farmers of America is also growing produce to sell as part of its fundraiser.
Paul Sizemore, UK Extension Agent and Owsley County Farmerís Market coordinator, said that there are 13 active producers who sell regularly. The program is still fairly new for the farmers, and the goal is to increase the number of producers. Last year, they were given vouchers for use by the elderly. He said that the senior vouchers had been reduced from $4,000 to $3,000 leaving approximately 60 to 70 seniors without vouchers. The WIC program provides $1,600 in vouchers, and those vouchers have not been reduced.
In response to Senator Givens, Mr. Sizemore said that the Farmerís Market had problems in the beginning because the farmers were still tied to tobacco. The community has to become involved for it to become successful.
In response to Representative Smart, Mr. Sizemore said he was aware of the county food bank but was not familiar with the food bank purchasing produce.
††††††††††† Sharon Spencer, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, explained KDAís role in the farmerís market programs. KDA defines a farmerís market as a prescribed location where two or more producers gather on a set date and time to sell their products that they grow and produce directly to consumers. KDA works closely with the University of Kentucky Extension Service and the Kentucky Department for Public Health Food Safety Branch. The department complies with the local, state, and federal regulations on food products that can be sold at the markets but does not monitor the markets. Each farmerís market sets its own guidelines and rules as to how it operates. KDA makes sure that the markets follow along with the local, state, and federal regulations for food safety. All farmerís markets are asked to register with the KDA each year, which includes free membership and the use of the Kentucky Proud logo. They are also asked to submit information regarding the number of vendors they had for the previous year, what kind of products are being offered, and the amount of annual gross sales.
In 2009, there were 135 registered farmerís markets. In 2012, there are 147 farmerís markets. Out of 120 counties, there are 101 counties that host a farmerís market. Total gross sales for 2008 were $7.6 million and for 2011 the amount was $10.4 million. In 2011, there were 151 markets, but there are only 147 registered in 2012. Ms. Spencer said that aging vendors and customers were becoming an issue. KDA supports a community supported agriculture program (CSA) where a consumer contracts with a producer/farmer in advance. The producer/farmer benefits from getting the money earlier, but it poses a shared risk with weather-related problems. In 2011, there were 41 active CSA farms, and there are 60 registered farms this year.
In response to Senator Parrett, Ms. Spencer said that KDA does not have the authority to close an unregistered producer selling produce, but it can the producer to the Health Department if it is selling value-added products and not following procedure or if it is accepting vouchers. Anyone selling organic or certified organic must be registered.
Rural ďFood DesertsĒ Discussion
Dr. Janet Mullins, Associate Professor, Extension Specialist in Food and Nutrition, College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky, explained that a ďfood desertĒ is any area in the industrialized world where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain. Food deserts are prevalent in rural and urban areas and most prevalent in low-socioeconomic minority communities. They are linked to a variety of diet-related health problems. Rural Kentucky can build strong local food systems by focusing on food as a priority for economic development and the well-being of Kentucky; establishment of a state level food policy council; support for young farmers and food entrepreneurs; establishment of incentives to encourage purchase and serving of local foods by large food service operations; and healthy food financing initiatives or other support for aggregating and distributing local foods.
Darrin Gay, Gay Brothers Logging and Lumber, and Vice President of the Kentucky Forest Industries Association, discussed the problems associated with loggers not adhering to the Forest Conservation Act. Mr. Gay said that the logging industry would like to see legislation to close repeat offenders who fail to attend training, have one or more repeat violations of the law, and who fail to pay the fines that have been imposed. The offenders are often involved in timber theft plus have an unfair advantage by operating at reduced costs by not following best management practices.
A resolution was presented to the members emphasizing the need for intergovernmental coordination in addressing the impacts of the continuing drought conditions on agriculture throughout the Commonwealth. The resolution was adopted by voice vote without objection, upon motion of Representative McKee and second by Senator Hornback.
The meeting adjourned at 12:20 p.m.