Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 2:49 pm
You're in the supermarket gathering ingredients for eggnog and a Christmas Bundt cake, and you're staring at a wall of egg cartons. They're plastered with terms that all sound pretty wonderful: All-Natural, Cage-Free, Free-Range, Farm Fresh, Organic, No Hormones, Omega-3. And so on.
And yet the longer you stare at them, the more confused you become. You are tired and hungry, so you just grab the cheapest one — or the one with the most adorable chicken illustration — and head for the checkout line.
University of Kentucky agricultural economists are predicting the state's farm sector will produce a record $6 billion in cash receipts in 2014.
But they are forecasting a five percent drop in next year's ag cash receipts due to the end of tobacco buyout payments and lower grain prices.
University of Kentucky agriculture economist Will Snell says Kentucky's diverse farm economy has it positioned better than much of the country. Kentucky's projected total is up five percent over 2013, while U.S. farm cash receipts are expected to drop by one percent in 2014.
Snell says strong increases in beef, poultry, dairy and hog prices are boosting this year's cash receipts.
The forecasts by Snell have become a fixture at the Kentucky Farm Bureau's meeting, which was happening Thursday in Louisville.
The application window is now open for Kentucky farmers and processors who want to grow hemp for research in 2015.
Several Kentucky universities, including WKU, grew hemp this year for the first time in decades. The application deadline for the next round is January 1.
The first round of pilot projects yielded a lot of data about production methods, seed varieties, and processing techniques.
"This past year we were as far west as Murray and as far east as Bath County. We'd like to see that continuation or even expansion on either end," said Adam Watson, Industrial Hemp Program Coordinator in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. "Definitely, we have different growing environments in Kentucky."
Applications are available on the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's website at www.kyagr.com/hemp. Applicants who are selected will undergo background checks and site visits.
The State Agriculture Committee heard an update last week on Kentucky's hemp pilot project. In September, researchers at the University of Kentucky harvested the first legal crop in decades. UK Plant Sciences Professor David Williams says there's growing interest in a variety of hemp supported products. "They're particularly interested in the vast of the long strong fibers for composite materials like car door panels, pseudo plastics, particle board type products, building construction materials," said Williams.
Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 5:32 pm
U.S. farmers are bringing in what's expected to be a record-breaking harvest for both corn and soybeans. But for many farmers, that may be too much of a good thing.
Farmers will haul in 4 billion bushels of soybeans and 14.5 billion bushels of corn, according to USDA estimates. The problem? Demand can't keep up with that monster harvest. Corn and soybean prices have been falling for months. A bushel of corn is now worth under $4 — about half what it was two years ago.
If you're reading The Salt, it probably comes as no surprise to you that consumers increasingly want to make food choices based on not just their health, but their ethics. A growing number of groups are coming up with technological solutions to help them.
Corn farmers in south central Kentucky say the dry summer didn't affect crops as much as they feared.
Smiths Grove farmer Chad Elkins, for one, was expecting spotty crops this season but he says that wasn't the case in his fields. Another farmer, David Hunt, says modern crop genetics make the crop better able to handle dry conditions. But Hunt says the low rainfall meant his yield was down to 125 bushels an acre compared to 200 bushels an acre last year.
An outdoor classroom in rural Ohio County is teaching children where their food comes from and how to grow it themselves.
Beaver Dam Elementary School is the first school in the state to have a garden on school grounds. Kindergarten teacher Becky Gaither helped start the garden project. She says students learn the value of hard work by maintaining the garden and they get to enjoy the harvest.
"Just this past week, some grades harvested cherry tomatoes and herbs," Gaither remarked. "They made pizzas in their classrooms and the students did the vegetable preparation themselves, washing and slicing and dicing."
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer traveled to Beaver Dam Elementary on Thursday to recognize the school as having the state’s first certified “Ready, Set, Grow” garden. Comer said he hopes the concept will expand statewide.
"A lot of times we have communities where kids think their chicken comes from the drive-thru window at McDonald's and their milk comes from the grocery store," Comer stated. "They don't realize it comes from farms and when they have that lack of knowledge they don't have an appreciation for farmers or agriculture."
The raised garden beds feature herbs, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and watermelons, as well as shrubs and flowers. The effort is funded through donations from businesses and individuals.