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.
The excessive heat and drought in Kentucky this summer have drawn natural disaster area designations for seven counties. Surrounding counties are also affected as well as two counties each in Indiana and Tennessee.
While the recent rain in our listening area is certainly a welcome sight for farmers, it comes too late to save the crops that have already been devastated by the drought. Still, WKU agriculture professor Todd Willian says the rainfall could help crops that are harvested later in the year, like soybeans.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture usually deals with bigger farmers but has joined with the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy to work with some younger potential growers. First lady Jane Beshear and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer have launched a program to show young people how they can plant their own gardens and grow food, even on a patio.
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says he is restarting the long-dormant Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission. The General Assembly created the commission ten years ago to look into hemp's potential in the commonwealth, but it has never met.