Call to Order and Roll Call
The5th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Wednesday, October 9, 2013, at 1:00 PM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Tom McKee, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Paul Hornback, Co-Chair; Representative Tom McKee, Co-Chair; Senators David P. Givens, Sara Beth Gregory, Stan Humphries, Dennis Parrett, Dorsey Ridley, Kathy W. Stein, Damon Thayer, Robin L. Webb, and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives Jim DeCesare, Mike Denham, Myron Dossett, C.B. Embry Jr., Derrick Graham, Richard Heath, James Kay, Martha Jane King, Michael Meredith, Terry Mills, David Osborne, Tom Riner, Bart Rowland, Steven Rudy, Jonathan Shell, John Short, Wilson Stone, and Susan Westrom.
Guests: Joe Cain, Director, National Affairs and Political Education, Kentucky Farm Bureau; Dr. Robert Stout, Kentucky State Veterinarian, Carla Baumann, Board Member, Community Farm Alliance and Martin Richards, Executive Director, Community Farm Alliance.
The September 6, 2013, minutes were approved, without objection, by voice vote, upon motion made by Representative Graham and seconded by Representative Mills.
The report of the Subcommittee on Rural Issues was approved, without objection, by voice vote.
The report of the Subcommittee on Horse Farming was approved, without objection, by voice vote.
Farm Bill Update
Joe Cain, Director, National Affairs and Political Education, Kentucky Farm Bureau, said that Congress still had not reached an agreement on a new Farm Bill but an agreement could be in the works. He said serious action on the Farm Bill may not come until December, depending on the progress of a Continuing Resolution (CR). He said that not having a CR has caused the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to close all its offices and no services were available.
Mr. Cain said that one of the sticking points between the House and Senate Farm Bill is the federal nutrition benefits and assistance. The Senate version proposes reducing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $4 billion over 10 years while the House proposes nearly $40 billion in reductions over the same time period. SNAP is a program that offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. Mr. Cain said that other issues related to the Farm Bill concerns whether payments on acres under commodity title will be linked to base acres as proposed by the Senate or planted acres as proposed by the House. Also affected is the dairy industry. The lapse of the Farm Bill has resulted in the expiration of dairy safety net programs under the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC).
In response to Representative McKee, Mr. Cain said that if nothing is done by Congress by January 1, 2014, the price of a gallon of milk could eventually rise to $5 or $6 a gallon.
Senator Hornback expressed concern over the shutdown by saying that farmers cannot get their Farm Service Agency (FSA) checks endorsed as is required by FSA.
Representative McKee noted that the European Union (EU) voted to restrict some additives to cigarettes. He said the EU will gradually ban menthol in cigarettes.
In response to Representative Graham, Mr. Cain elaborated on the Senate’s proposal to reduce SNAP by $4 billion over 10 years and the House nearly $40 billion over the same time period.
Report and Update on the Status of the On-Farm Livestock and Poultry Care Standards
Dr. Robert Stout, Kentucky State Veterinarian, gave a brief overview and summary of the Kentucky Livestock Care Standards Commission. He stated that the mission of the Commission was to establish, maintain, or revise standards governing the care and well-being of on-farm livestock and poultry. The commission presented its report to the State Board of Agriculture (SBA) and the SBA voted to accept the report on March 26, 2013. Administrative regulations were filed with the Legislative Research Commission in August 2013, and a public hearing was held in September 2013.
In response to Representative McKee, Dr. Stout said that Ohio had similar regulations.
In response to Senator Humphries, Dr. Stout said that he agreed that the diagnostic labs in the state are important, and that the Breathitt Diagnostic Lab in Hopkinsville needed to be updated. That part of the area in Western Kentucky is heavily populated with poultry farms.
In response to Representative Short, Dr. Stout stated that there has been one positive test in the last three years related to coggins. He also said that he was aware of problems of horses being turned away from trail rides because the owners did not bring a certificate showing that the horses had been immunized. He said he would discuss with his staff other options instead of turning away the animals.
In response to Senator Givens, Dr. Stout said that some of the issues that were presented during the public comment period were tail-docking and sow gestation stalls.
In response to Representative McKee, Dr. Stout stated that no penalties were associated with the new regulations.
Food Policy Discussion and Announcement
Ms. Carla Baumann, Board Member, and Martin Richards, Executive Director, Community Farm Alliance, spoke about CFA’s initiative to address local food system needs and developing sustainable solutions. Mr. Martin told the members that CFA had received a $25,000 grant from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture to develop a state-wide food policy framework via a Kentucky Food Policy Network.
Tamara Sandberg, Executive Director, Kentucky Association of Food Banks, gave a brief update on the income tax check off. Ms. Sandberg said that beginning January 1, 2013, any taxpayer who is entitled to an income tax refund may designate an amount to be paid to the Farms to Food Banks Trust Fund. She also said that the association is always searching for funds in order to purchase surplus foods.
In response to Representative Graham, Mr. Sandberg stated that there is limited money available to purchase surplus foods. Many times the association is unable to purchase more food from farmers.
The meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.