Agriculture

Agriculture
2:01 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Conway: Growing Hemp Still a Violation of Federal Law

Industrial hemp is legal in many countries, including Canada and parts of Europe and Asia.

Attorney General Jack Conway is advising Kentucky leaders that industrial hemp farming remains illegal in the commonwealth.

Conway issued an advisory letter on Wednesday to Gov. Steve Beshear, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and others to clarify current law related to hemp. The letter appears to deflate hopes of hemp farming proponents who have said they'd like to begin planting next year.

Kentucky lawmakers have passed legislation that would allow farmers to grow the crop if the federal government ever lifts a longstanding ban. But Attorney General Conway said that ban remains firmly in place.

The state agriculture department recently issued a news release saying it was instructed by the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission to begin drawing up regulations for hemp farming in the commonwealth. That came on the heels of comments by Justice Department officials that the federal government had no intention of prosecuting hemp farmers.

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Agriculture
2:52 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Kentucky Hemp Panel Tells Washington It's Moving Forward with Hemp Production

The year 2013 has seen a huge push by states like Kentucky to get hemp production legalized.

Kentucky’s Industrial Hemp Commission is serving notice to the federal government that it plans to move forward with creating regulations for hemp production in the commonwealth.

A news release from the state agriculture department says staff members have been instructed to begin the process of writing rules for the development of the long-banned crop. The state’s industrial hemp commission is calling for Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and U.S. Senator Rand Paul to write a letter to the U.S. Justice Department to “make Kentucky’s intentions known.”

Recent changes to state law have opened the door to future hemp production in Kentucky, although growing the crop is still technically illegal under federal rules.

But Commissioner Comer is pointing to recent statements by a Justice Department official who said the federal government has no intentions of prosecuting hemp farmers.

"Surely...no entity will seek to throw up a government obstacle to moving forward with another opportunity for Kentucky farmers and for manufacturing jobs."

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Agriculture
5:00 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Traveling Classrooms Designed to Teach Students About Agriculture

Ag Commissioner James Comer (right) shakes hands with Tod Griffin, chairman of Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom, Inc.
Credit Dept. of Agriculture

A top state official is hoping twenty-first century technology will help Kentucky school children learn about the importance of agriculture. The Mobile Science Activity Centers” will begin touring the state this fall.

The 44-foot trailers are decked out with 11 iPads a 70-inch LED monitor and a touch screen desktop computer – all paid for by a public-private partnership between the Agriculture Department and over a dozen industry groups.  

"Most school children are two, three, or more generations removed from the farm," said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. "The Mobile Science Activity Centers enable kids to learn about agriculture's importance in our everyday lives." 

The schedule for mobile units is jam-packed for the next three school years.

Agriculture & Health
12:53 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Bowling Green Farmers Market to Cater to Lower Income Areas, Set up Market on Wheels

Customers bought fresh produce Wednesday at a farmers market set up at the Barren River District Health Department in Bowling Green.
Credit Lisa Autry

Bowling Green area farmers set up shop outside the Barren River District Health Department Wednesday, in an effort to make nutritional food easily accessible to the community.

Farmers selling vegetables, eggs, meats, and cheeses set up their tents on the front lawn of the health department, and--within a few minutes--business was booming.

A group of local farmers is working to make their products accessible in low-income areas. The farmers used the health department Wednesday as a testing site to see how many consumers would be willing to turn out.

The farmers have purchased a bus with a USDA grant. The bus is being retrofitted to act as a traveling community farmers market. Starting in April, the bus will stop at various Bowling Green locations where access to fresh foods is limited.

The market will also accept forms of government assistance, and will become Kentucky's first farmers market on wheels.

Agriculture
11:42 am
Wed August 14, 2013

How A Seed Saver Discovered One Of Our Favorite Tomatoes

A Cherokee purple tomato grown in Alaska in 2011.
Sherry Shiesl Tatiana's TOMATObase

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 2:04 pm

Fortunately for those of us who are suckers for novelty, every year fruits and vegetables seem to come in more bewitching colors, shapes and flavors. Lately, we've been tickled by the cotton candy grape and the vibrant orange Turkish eggplant.

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Regional
12:56 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

No Defense Motions Filed by Richie Farmer's Lawyer Ahead of Deadline

Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer faces an Oct. 22 federal trial.

Defense attorneys for a former Kentucky agriculture commissioner haven’t filed any motions ahead of an October federal trial.

Richie Farmer is facing five counts related to his time in office from 2004 to 2011. A federal judge set an August 2 deadline for Farmer’s lawyer to file defense motions, but the Courier-Journal reports no such motions were submitted. That’s despite the judge’s decision to extend the filing deadline in response to Farmer’s attorney’s claims that he needed extra time to mile motions.

Farmer’s attorney is Guthrie True, who represented then-Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton in his recent federal trial in Bowling Green.

Farmer was indicted in April on four counts involving alleged theft of federal funds and one count of soliciting a bribe while agriculture commissioner. Farmer has pleaded not guilty to all counts. The government wants him to repay $450,000--the amount they say he misused while in office.

Agriculture
9:16 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Murray State Eyeing Hemp Research

Officials with Murray State University are eyeing hemp research should the crop be made legal in a federal farm bill.

The dean of the university's agriculture school, Tony Brannon, says he'd be interested in research opportunities involving hemp and focusing on how effective the crop would be.

Congress is weighing a provision to allow research into hemp as part of the 2013 farm bill. Kentucky has been pushing for the federal government to either allow it to be grown for commercial use or research.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says along with Murray State, the Toyota plant in Georgetown has already shown interest in using industrial hemp for manufacturing parts for the automobiles it produces.

Agriculture
10:21 am
Mon July 8, 2013

New "Udderly Kentucky" Line Features Milk 100% Sourced and Processed in Bluegrass State

The new milk program is part of the Kentucky Proud effort.
Credit Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture

A new partnership in Kentucky is combining the efforts of state dairy farmers and the world's largest retailer.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer announced Monday that Walmart stores in central and south-central Kentucky will soon begin stocking a line of milk products that is sourced and processed entirely at commonwealth dairy farms.

Calling it one of the most significant developments in the history of the Kentucky Proud marketing program. Comer unveiled the “Udderly Kentucky” partnership, which will stock Walmart stores in the Bluegrass State with milk from 105 Kentucky dairy farms.

The program will return a 7-cent-per-gallon premium to each participating supplier. According to Comer, the average participating Kentucky dairy operation will generate $19,000 annually from the agreement.

Comer told WKU Public Radio he's been working on the partnership with Walmart since he took office in 2012. And he says he’s aware that many in the local-food movement eye Walmart with a great deal of suspicion and even disdain, given controversy surrounding the company’s business and employment practices.

Comer says he brought the issue up with the retailer when negotiating the deal.

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Politics
1:52 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

James Comer Not Ruling Out Run for Governor in 2015

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer
Credit Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer isn't ruling out a run for governor in 2015, but he says he's not focused on the race yet.

Comer told WBKO-TV in Bowling Green that the race is "something we're looking at," but he's concentrating on being the agriculture commissioner.

Comer, the lone Republican in a state cabinet position, said it is a year too early for any candidate to announce plans for the gubernatorial race.

Comer has been pushing to legalize industrial hemp in Kentucky. State lawmakers have passed a measure allowing the growth of the plant should the federal government lift restrictions on it.

Agriculture
1:12 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Beshear Writes Letter to President, Asking for Help with Hemp Issue

Hemp was once legally grown throughout the U.S.

Governor Steve Beshear sent a letter to President Obama this week asking for help in identifying economic opportunities for industrial hemp production.

In the letter, Beshear asked the U.S. Attorney General, Agriculture Secretary, D.E.A., and others to look for ways hemp could eventually be grown and marketed that don’t negatively impact Kentucky’s drug eradication efforts.

In April, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer led a bipartisan delegation to Washington to lobby lawmakers and White House officials to legalize industrial hemp. Kentucky lawmakers this year passed a bill that would set up the regulatory framework for growing and marketing hemp if the crop is removed from the federal government’s list of banned substances.

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