Agriculture

Farm Cash Receipts Projected At Record $6 Billion in 2014

Dec 4, 2014
Lisa Autry

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.

Lisa Autry

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.

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 cover food and farming, as we do, you end up looking at farm magazines and agricultural web sites. This means you see lots of articles about corn prices and ads for farm equipment.

Then, a couple of years ago, Modern Farmer appeared. It's a farm magazine like no other. It flaunts a look and attitude that sometimes make us laugh out loud.

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.

Survey Shows Jump in Retail Food Prices in Kentucky

Oct 16, 2014

A new survey of Kentucky food prices says the rising cost of beef and pork products led to an overall 3.9 percent jump in retail food prices during the third quarter of the year.

The Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation's survey was conducted last month. It listed the total cost of 40 basic grocery items at $127, compared with $122.23 in the previous quarter.

The Farm Bureau says it's the fifth consecutive quarter with an increasing price total.

The latest results show Kentucky's grocery prices rising by 5.8 percent overall in 2014.

Of the six food groups recorded in the most recent survey, the beef category showed the largest total gain. Pork was not far behind.

Kevin Willis

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.

Lisa Autry

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. 

Kentucky's Department of Agriculture says events promoting farm safety are planned at high schools across the state.

The Department says Kentucky had 14 farming-related fatalities in 2013, down from 22 in 2011 and 50 in 1995. On a percentage basis, farming remains one of the nation's most dangerous occupations, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The Agriculture Department's Farm & Home Safety Program is spreading the message about farm safety with events at Central Hardin High School, LaRue County High School and others.

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