Agriculture

Ryan Quarles Facebook page

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles announced on Facebook new business prospects with Israel on Monday, following the controversial opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Quarles posted that he was proud to discuss ‘agriculture partnerships with ISRAEL.’ He wrote that Kentucky already has significant Israeli investments in greenhouses and precision irrigation. The department hopes to expand business with industrial hemp and bourbon. Quarles is a member of President Donald Trump's Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Nicole Erwin

LaRue County, Kentucky, dairy farmer Gary Rock sits in his milking parlor, overlooking what is left of his 95 cow operation.

“Three hundred years of history is something that a lot of people in our country cannot even talk about,” Rock said.

That’s how long the farm has been in his family. While the land has turned out tobacco, soybeans and other crops over the years, since 1980 dairy has nourished the family in and out of tragedy.

“In 2013, we had an F2 tornado that totally destroyed all the facilities here except the one we are sitting in, which is the milk parlor itself,” Rock said. If that had been lost, he said, he would not have rebuilt.


Farm Bill Could Undo Part Of The Affordable Care Act

May 8, 2018

Although the GOP repeal-and-replace mantra seems to have quieted, some Republican lawmakers continue efforts to get around the sweeping federal health law's requirements.

Sometimes that happens in surprising places. Like the farm bill.

Owensboro Regional Farmers Market

The Owensboro Regional Farmers Market opens for the season April 14.  The 34-year-old marketplace will soon feature a new look as it puts down permanent roots in the community.

The vendors’ tents at the Owensboro Farmers Market will soon be replaced by a permanent structure with a fabric roof. Construction is expected to be done by the end of this month on a rustic-style entrance building with cedar siding and a metal roof that will house rest rooms and a small service kitchen.

Creative Commons

An indoor farming company plans to invest $44 million to grow produce on the site of a reclaimed mine in eastern Kentucky.

Hydroponic Farms USA says it will bring 121 jobs to the region, which has seen rising unemployment with the decline of eastern Kentucky’s coal industry.

Hydroponic Farms USA spokesman Trevor Terry said investors chose to build on the site of a former mine in Breathitt County for two reasons. First, the large, flat space the former mine provided was the perfect for a large indoor growing operation.

Ryland Barton

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wants to revive hemp as a major agricultural product in the U.S. and plans to file a bill to remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances.

It’s currently illegal to grow hemp without a permit because it’s a member of the same species as cannabis. But, hemp has a negligible amount of the high-inducing compound THC.

McConnell told a room full of hemp promoters in Frankfort on Monday that he thinks the country is ready to legalize the plant.

Nicole Erwin

Jeff McGrew stood in line with about 30 other west Kentucky farmers awaiting certification that they’ve been trained to apply the herbicide Dicamba. The two hour session explained the Environmental Protection Agency’s new restrictions on use of the controversial herbicide. The session left Mcgrew uncertain about whether to use the spray.

“I'm undecided right now but I'm leaning towards not spraying it,” he said. “I don't think in our area we're going to have much of any place that there will be enough area that we won't have buffer zones or other sensitive crops and I'm not sure that it's going to work out for us.”


USDA/Bob Nichols

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a petition by the National Chicken Council to remove the speed limit on work at some slaughterhouses, a move that food safety advocates are calling a victory for workers and consumers.

As the Ohio Valley ReSource reported in October, the National Chicken Council proposal could have increased the line speed for some workers in processing plants where accidents and injuries are already a concern.

Since then the USDA received more than 100,000 public comments and this week the department’s Food Safety Inspection Service turned the petition down. 


White House video

When President Trump spoke to the American Farm Bureau annual convention this month he focused on the regulatory rollbacks and tax cuts that motivated many farmers to help vote him into office.

“We are doing a job for you,” Trump told an auditorium filled with farmers. “You’re seeing it like nobody else: regulation, death tax, so much.”

Dale Moore said farmers look to Trump for a better deal. Moore directs public policy for the Farm Bureau. He said net income for farmers hasn’t been this low since the Great Depression.


Cold Spells Pose Health Risk To Livestock

Jan 4, 2018
Aimee Nielson, UK Agricultural Communications Specialist

Livestock experts are warning producers that sub-zero temperatures and prolonged extreme cold will harm their animals.

University of Kentucky agriculture educators say the cold stress index will hover in the ‘dangerous’ and ‘emergency’ categories for much of the commonwealth between now and possibly early February. As arctic air builds, livestock become vulnerable to the deteriorating outside conditions.

Nicole Erwin

Roberto Gonzales and six other workers came from Nayarit, Mexico, to work on a Garrard County, Kentucky, tobacco farm using a guest worker program called the H-2A visa. The Department of Labor program guarantees a wage in Kentucky of $10.92 an hour. But Gonzales said the workers were only getting between $3 and $8 per hour. So they went on strike.

Within a month the workers had won a settlement. Gonzales knew what he was owed because it is all in a contract through the guest worker program.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says Kentucky farmers continue to gain more access to major grocery chains. 

Quarles says the Kentucky Proud program is expanding to help the state’s beef producers. 

A plan is underway to process beef cattle in Wolfe County, and distribute the ground beef to more than 80 Kroger stores in Kentucky.

Michael Durham, Bat Conservation International

Bats have a bit of an image problem. You probably saw some Halloween decorations recently featuring flying, fanged creatures of the night. But conservationists say bats are actually very helpful animals, saving farmers in the Ohio Valley region alone hundreds of millions of dollars simply by eating harmful insects.

Now bats need some humans to return the favor and help to halt the spread of a deadly disease.

 

The bat disease called White Nose Syndrome was first spotted in New York about ten years ago and researchers say it is rapidly moving across the country decimating many bat populations.

In a normal year, Kevin Bradley, a professor of weed science at the University of Missouri, would have spent his summer testing new ways to control a troublesome little plant called water hemp.

This has not been a normal year.

Jeanna Glisson

The Kentucky Farm Bureau is hoping to raise awareness of the important role migrant labor plays in making the state’s agriculture system work.

Joe Cain is director of the bureau’s commodity division, and is the featured speaker at an event Tuesday night in Muhlenberg County.

He says he hopes any changes to the nation’s immigration laws will include updates to the H2A program, which allows agriculture employers to bring workers to the U.S. for seasonal work.

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