Kentucky’s cattle producers will get to vote in two elections this November. 

A referendum on whether producers may be assessed two dollars per head of cattle marketed in Kentucky is scheduled for November 20. 

For each animal sold in Kentucky, one dollar is currently placed into a pool for beef marketing, research, and education.  Half remains in the state while the rest goes into a national reserve.  The assessment has remained at one dollar since 1985.

"The program has been around for a long time and the value of a dollar now compared to where it was 28 years ago is like 44 cents," says Dave Maples, Executive Vice President of the Kentucky Cattleman's Association.  "We do have competition out there so we want to promote our product and have people keep eating beef."

The referendum will be held from 8:00 am-6:00 pm on November 20 at all county extension offices across the state.  If cattle producers vote in favor of the increase, it would become effective next April.

Lisa Autry

Another milestone is being reached in Kentucky’s effort to grow and market industrial hemp. 

One of the state’s first legal hemp crops was harvested Thursday at the WKU farm in Bowling Green. 

Agriculture professors and students gathered among the thin, leafy plants grown in a half-acre plot, one of nine locations around Kentucky.  What began as seeds in early June were towering 12-foot tall plants. 

WKU worked with the state Agriculture Department to grow hemp for research under a provision in the federal farm bill.

WKU Agriculture Professor Dr. Paul Woosley assessed the inaugural crop.

"It's grown pretty well, the plants that got established.  "Because of the hold up with the DEA, we didn't get the seed when we would have liked, so it was about a month late," Woosley explained.

The seeds, imported from Italy, were held up for several weeks following a dispute with the federal government.

Cumberland County leaders could decide this week whether to change the county’s poultry production ordinance at the request of a company.

Cagle’s Keystone Foods of Albany has asked the Cumberland County Fiscal Court to make a number of changes, including allowing producers to have four chicken houses on their property as opposed to two, and decreasing the minimum distance between a chicken house and another dwelling from 2,500 feet to 1,500 feet.

Another change would increase the amount of birds allowed in a chicken house from 23,000 to 25,000.

Some Cumberland County residents have spoken out against the changes at public meetings, and want the issue put on the ballot so that voters can decide.

An agriculture committee appointed by Cumberland County Judge-Executive John Phelps is to deliver its recommendation at a meeting Monday evening, with a possible Fiscal Court vote coming at a meeting Tuesday.

Mechanization has made the farming of many crops — lettuce and tomatoes among them — a lot less labor intensive. But some crops are still tended and harvested by hand, and it can be painstaking work.

How do you measure the labor intensity of crops? We thought there would be an easy answer to that, but there isn't. Some agricultural economists talk about labor input in terms of hours per acre, but that may not take into account the difficulty of the labor.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer thinks Kentucky-grown hemp is on its way to becoming a hot commodity. 

From clothing manufacturers to automotive suppliers, U.S. companies currently import hemp from other countries where it is legal to grow the crop.  Companies are interested to see if Kentucky could become a domestic source of hemp.

"The universities and the agriculture department are getting calls almost on a daily basis from different companies, some are publicly traded, others are very successful private companies, that want to process hemp," Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told WKU Public Radio.  "There are a lot of companies in the U.S. that purchase hemp produced and processed in Canada and China, so the interest is there," he added.

According to Comer, the outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia has partnered with the Growing Warriors Project, a program working with veterans and their families to grow and market naturally grown food, to develop a hemp clothing line.

Hemp's financial impact remains to be seen.  A 2013 report from the University of Kentucky suggested that only a few dozen jobs would be created and that hemp would amount to less than one percent of Kentucky’s farm cash receipts.

Corn, Soybean Production to Drop in Kentucky

Aug 14, 2014
Kevin Willis

A double-digit drop in corn and soybean production by Kentucky farmers is being predicted in a new report.

Corn production in the state is forecast at 200 million bushels, down 18% from last year. Soybean production for Kentucky is forecast at 67.6 million bushels, a 17% drop from 2013. The predictions are in a report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service's field office in Kentucky.

It estimates statewide corn yield at 138 bushels per acre, down 32 bushels from 2013. Soybean yield is estimated at 40 bushels per acre, down 9.5 bushels from a year ago.

Missouri voters have narrowly passed an amendment to the state’s constitution instituting a so-called "right to farm" and the chair of the Kentucky House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Small Business says a similar action could be coming in the commonwealth.

To Save These Pigs, Ky. Farmer Says We Have To Eat Them

Jul 21, 2014

Robertson County has the smallest population of any county in the state of Kentucky, and it's the only one, word has it, without a stoplight.

So it's an unlikely place to find a campaign to keep the food system more genetically diverse. But that is exactly what's happening on a small farm owned by Travis Hood, called Hood's Heritage Hogs.

Test Hemp Crop Grows With Arrival of More Seeds

Jul 15, 2014

Kentucky's first experimental hemp crop has grown with the arrival of another shipment of imported seeds that immediately went into the ground.

The state's agriculture department says nearly 950 pounds of Canadian seeds cleared customs without any legal drama. An earlier shipment from Italy was detained for a time by customs officials in Louisville, setting off a legal fight between the state agency and the federal government.

Adam Watson, the agriculture department's hemp coordinator, said the Canadian seeds were planted last week. He said seeds put into the soil in late May have already sprouted into leafy plants that are six feet high or taller.

Test plots across the state will help researchers and farmers determine the crop's potential in Kentucky.

Farmland in Kentucky Shrinking

Jul 7, 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says farms and land devoted to farming in Kentucky has drastically decreased in recent years. The census of agriculture says between 2007 and 2012, Kentucky had the greatest percentage decrease in farmland of and state in the country.

Farmland declined in the state over that time by 943,000 acres, or 6.7%. The number of farms in Kentucky also declined, from 85,260 in 2007 to 77,064 in 2012. Daniel Smaldone, a spokesman for Kentucky Farm Bureau, says the state probably saw a decline because some land was unproductive and some was intentionally rotated out of production.

Other states with the largest percentage declines in farmland were Alaska 5.4%, Georgia 5.2%, Mississippi 4.6% and Wisconsin 4.1%.