Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says he will seek to legalize industrial hemp in 2013, and to kick off the effort he convened a Wednesday meeting of a hemp commission that hasn't met in years. Comer told members of Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission that passing hemp legislation will be his top priority in next year's General Assembly.
A University of Kentucky professor has received a $1.4 million grant to conduct a multiyear study of health and safety practices of the Thoroughbred industry. Jennifer Swanberg, a professor of social work and executive director of the Institute for Workplace Innovation at the university, received the funding for the Thoroughbred Worker Health and Safety Study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Kentucky's agriculture commissioner says the state's four-year-old fuel and pesticide testing lab has not lived up to its initial billing. James Comer told members of the state's interim joint committee on agriculture that his predecessor, Richie Farmer, sold the fuel lab as a great investment and moneymaker for the commonwealth.
Many people who raise fruits and vegetables in Kentucky are finding good marketing opportunities for their produce. As consumers look for fresh produce and healthy diets, road side stands and creative approaches are leading to an important source of income for some small farmers, and some who raise more produce than they can sell themselves. As more Kentucky school systems look for fresh produce for their cafeteria programs, the opportunities are expected to increase.
While the high cost of gas hurts most consumers, Kentucky's agriculture commissioner says farmers are especially hard-hit. James Comer says fuel costs impact every part of food production, leaving farmers with little recourse when gas prices spike.
University of Kentucky Agricultural Economist Will Snell says a rise in commodity prices and increasing indemnity payments will result in higher net farm income than many would have expected this year. Speaking to the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture in Lexington, Snell pointed to USDA projections that net farm income this year will reach its highest level in 42 years.
Kentucky's agriculture commissioner says he sees no reason why the state can't double its agriculture sales in the coming years. James Comer tells WKU Public Radio high commodity prices helped Kentucky set a record of $4.9 billion in agriculture receipts in 2011. He says by helping Kentucky farmers increase production and gain access to new markets overseas, sales could skyrocket.
Direct marketing to consumers has become an increasingly important part of many farm operations in Kentucky. Roadside stands, local farmer's markets, and the development of value-added products have helped to boost farm income. On Friday September 14th, a workshop will be held at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green to discuss opportunities for expanding such marketing activity along Interstate 65.
Recent calls by high-ranking Kentucky officeholders to legalize industrial hemp have put the spotlight on the crop and what it might mean for Bluegrass State farmers. Both U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer say they want to see federal and state law changed to allow farmers to grow hemp legally.