Agriculture

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.

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.

Murray State Eyeing Hemp Research

Aug 12, 2013

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.

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.

James Comer Not Ruling Out Run for Governor in 2015

Jun 24, 2013
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.

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.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer doesn't expect the indictment of his predecessor, Richie Farmer, to damage the department. Comer says he feels sorry for Farmer's family because of the indictment, but it won't be a distraction for the department.

Comer and his staff have cooperated with multiple investigations into Farmer, and his goal is to distance the office from the officeholder.

"I hope the confidence has been restored. I work hard every day, I go to events every day to promote agriculture. We brought in all new management, we're efficient, we're transparent," said Comer, a Monroe County native.

Farmer has been indicted on five counts related to allegations he misused his office to obtain gifts and misappropriated state funds during his two terms as commissioner. He could face up to ten years in prison and a quarter million dollar fine.

Kentuckians concerned with agriculture, business and education spoke out in favor of the latest federal immigration proposal during a phone conference organized by the Partnership for a New American Economy.

The immigration proposal is being considered in the U.S. Senate, thanks to a compromise by a group of eight senators from both political parties.

The plan would create a 13-year path to citizens, expand work visas and attempts to tighten border security.

H.H. Barlow, a dairy farmer in Barren County, says he supports the compromise because farms like his need more immigrant workers in Kentucky.

Richie Farmer Could be on Ethics Commission Agenda Monday

Mar 18, 2013

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission has a meeting set for Monday when they could decide whether former University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer violated any of rules when he was state agriculture commissioner.

Farmer was accused in a state audit last year of using Department of Agriculture employees to take him hunting and shopping, mow his yard and chauffeur his dog. Those accusations and more were passed along to the Ethics Commission.

Farmer served two terms in the elected-position of agriculture commissioner. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2011.

Kentucky's agriculture leaders are supporting a new five year strategic plan to help the industry in the state.

The plan, put together by the Kentucky Agriculture Council, puts emphasis on agriculture education, creating new markets and recruiting new people to farming.

The plan runs through 2018 and has the support of Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

Gov. Steve Beshear also supports the plan, which he says is a extension of the first agriculture strategic plan presented to him five years ago.

Pages