Call to Order and Roll Call
Themeeting of the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee was held on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Paul Hornback, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Paul Hornback, Co-Chair; Representative Wilson Stone, Co-Chair; Senators Carroll Gibson, David Givens, Vernie McGaha, Dennis Parrett, and Joey Pendleton; Representatives Royce W. Adams, Tom McKee, Terry Mills, Ryan Quarles, and Tommy Turner.
Guests: Mr. Roger Thomas, Mr. Joel Neaveill, Mr. Bill McCloskey, Mr. Brian Murphy, Ms. Angela Blank, and Mr. Biff Baker Governorís Office of Agricultural Policy; Ms. Kimberly Richardson, Kentucky Division of Conservation.
The August 1, 2012, minutes were approved, without objection, by voice vote, upon motion by Senator Givens and second by Senator Parrett.
Governorís Office of Agricultural Policy
The committee received the monthly report from Mr. Roger Thomas, Executive Director, Mr. Joel Neaveill, Chief of Staff, and Mr. Bill McCloskey, Director of Financial Services, Governorís Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP), regarding project funding decisions made by the Agricultural Development Board (ADB) during its August meeting.
GOAP officials responded to committee membersí questions during the summary of funding allocations made under the County Agricultural Improvement, Deceased Farm Animal Disposal Assistance, On-Farm Energy, and Shared-Use programs from the previous month.
Officials explained to Representative McKee and Senator Pendleton some of the program requirements, funding status, and application evaluation procedures related to the On-Farm Energy Program. According to their testimony, the energy funds are supposed to be used solely for farming purposes.
GOAP next reviewed the local and regional projects approved for funding during the recent board meeting. Those included: Blue Grass Community Foundation, $25,000 in Fayette County funds for a food policy coordinator program; Owen County 4-H Club Council, $20,000 for a youth livestock cost-share program; Western Kentucky University Research Foundation, $23,950 in Barren County funds for a new Mesonet station; and FoodChain Inc., $12,500 in Fayette County funds to construct an indoor closed-loop aquaponics system at a site in downtown Lexington.
GOAP officials responded to questions and comments from Senators Hornback and Givens, and Representative Stone regarding the Bluegrass Community Foundation project. In their testimony, it was noted the organization would be revising its budget to account for a reduction in the original funding request. According to their testimony, the goal of the project is to look for ways to help meet a demand for locally-grown produce that would be available for Fayette County markets, institutional buyers, and household consumers.
GOAP officials also responded to committee membersí questions regarding the WKU Research Foundation Mesonet project. The Mesonet is a weather and climate monitoring system that provides data for farmers and other users. The system has several partners, including the National Weather Service. According to Mr. Thomas, the Barren County Council had provided funding for one Mesonet station and decided to fund an additional one in another part of the county. Mr. McCloskey said Mesonet stations exist in several parts of the state. The goal is to serve about 100 counties.
GOAP officials told committee members that even though the funding is committed for three years, the Mesonet service will continue after that. Some committee members talked about the value of Mesonet data, such as knowing what wind speeds are when applying chemicals on farm fields. GOAP officials also said additional information will be provided about past funding to Senator Gibson.
Regarding the FoodChain project, GOAP officials indicated to committee members that the endeavor is part of the revitalization of downtown Lexington, and is agriculture-oriented. Those involved will be working with Kentucky State University, which has a recognized aquaculture instruction and research program.
Division of Conservation Report
The committee received the annual report on the soil and water quality cost share program and soil stewardship program from Ms. Kimberly Richardson, Assistant Division Director.
Ms. Richardson reviewed the history and purpose of the program, funding, significant conservation efforts, including the 100,000-acre Green River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and the multicounty Mississippi River Basin Initiative, plus the various wetland, conservation, and watershed projects.
Responding to Co-chair Hornback, Ms. Richardson said the Division is looking ahead to the time that the Green River CREP will end. She said the Mississippi River Basin project will overlap some of the Green River counties. Senator Hornback suggested that the Division issue a warning to farmers who fail to properly maintain their waterways.
During a review of the counties impacted by the soil erosion and water quality cost share program, she indicated to Senator Gibson that landowners in coal counties are more apt to seek out environmental funding rather than soil erosion cost-share funding.
††††††††††† Documents distributed during the committee meeting are available with meeting materials in the LRC Library.
††††††††††† The meeting adjourned at approximately 11:30 a.m.