The4th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources was held on Thursday, August 23, 2001, at 10:00 AM, at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds, V.I.P. Boardroom in Louisville. Representative Roger Thomas, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representatives James Gooch, Co-Chair, and Roger Thomas, Co-Chair; Senators Paul Herron Jr, Robert Leeper, Vernie McGaha, Joey Pendleton, Tim Shaughnessy, Elizabeth Tori, and Ed Worley; Representatives Royce Adams, Rocky Adkins, Woody Allen, Adrian Arnold, Scott Brinkman, James Bruce, Mike Cherry, Phillip Childers, Jack Coleman, James Comer, Howard Cornett, Keith Hall, Charlie Hoffman, Thomas McKee, Fred Nesler, Tanya Pullin, Marie Rader, William Scott, Dottie Sims, Jim Stewart, Gary Tapp, Johnnie Turner, Tommy Turner, and Brent Yonts.
Legislative Guests: Representative Carolyn Belcher.
Guests: Mr. Bill Greely, East Kentucky Power Cooperative; Ms. Donna Brown; Mr. Wade Helm, Kentucky Conservation Committee; Ms. Susan Harkins and Mr. Sam Moore, Agricultural Development Board; Ms. Mary Anne Cronan and Mr. Harold Workman, Kentucky State Fair Board; Mr. David Sparrow and Dean Scott Smith, University of Kentucky; Mr. Chris Nolan, McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie, and Kirkland; Mr. Bryan Alvey, Kentucky Farm Bureau; Mr. Ben Crain, Burley Auction Warehouse Association; Mr. David Switzer, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association; Mr. Hank List, Deputy Secretary, Mr. Bob Logan, Mr. Rob Daniell, and Mr. Jeff Pratt, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet.
LRC Staff: Dan Risch, Biff Baker, Brad Wellons, Sharon Cantrell, Steve Mason, Kim Phelps, and Sheri Mahan.
Representative Roger Thomas, presiding co-chair, thanked the members of the State Fair Board for hosting the meeting. He said that he, Senator Ernie Harris, and Representative Jim Gooch will co-chair each of the meetings to be held by the committee. He next invited Ms. Mary Ann Cronan, the Chairperson of the State Fair Board, to introduce Board members and to describe Board activities.
Ms. Cronan introduced the Board members and thanked the members of the General Assembly for their continued support for the State Fairgrounds.
She asked for legislative assistance in expanding the Fairgrounds' Class A space in order to retain existing trade shows and conventions such as the Future Farmers of America convention.
She gave examples of the increase in revenue which can be expected to result from state funded facility upgrades. For instance, she said the $72 million state investment in renovation of the Kentucky Convention Center netted $102 million in new revenues directly attributable to the expansion. She said revenues are expected to grow from $400 million to $600 million as a result of increasing the Class A space of the Fairgrounds.
Next, Mr. Harold Workman, the President and CEO of the State Fair Board, reported that attendance was expected to be up at the fair. He also answered questions about the competition with other cities to host conventions. He stressed the need to upgrade the Fairgrounds' Class A space to stay competitive and within the top ten convention cities of similar size.
In answer to a question, Mr. Workman said that the Board has long range plans to acquire more property south of the South Wing. He said when that happens bids will be taken from major chain hotels to build on the site. Mr. Workman pointed out that the presence of a major hotel will allow the Fairgrounds to achieve even greater growth.
Next, Chairperson Thomas asked for and received approval of the minutes of the January 31, 2001 meeting.
Chairperson Thomas then asked representatives of the Agricultural Development Board, Mr. Sam Moore and Ms. Susan Harkins, to address the committee about the efforts of the Board to disburse the money from the Agriculture Development Fund. As they were preparing their presentation, Representative Thomas expressed his belief that the Agricultural Development Board had been given a difficult task and was doing a good job. He also said he thought the Board should be given more time to address the problems that have arisen that have slowed the distribution of money to farming communities.
Note that a copy of the materials presented by the Board members is available with the committee meeting materials filed in the LRC library. The highlights of the material include:
Of the 547 proposals for funding received by the Board since January 1, 2001, 165 have been approved. Approximately $9 million has been approved for projects related to bull improvement, forage, cattle handling, and fallen animal programs.
Mr. Moore and Ms. Harkins said that a challenge for the Board is to better communicate with counties that have submitted no applications for funding and to follow through with projects for which funding has been approved but where the legal agreements have not been signed.
Finally, they explained the process of developing a long range plan for agricultural development which has been undertaken by the Board. They said the schedule for plan development anticipates presenting the plan to the General Assembly by the end of December 2001.
The next presentation was given by Mr. David Switzer representing the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. Mr. Switzer spoke about Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome, which is the name given to conditions in the spring that led to the death of hundreds of thoroughbred foals and fetuses. A copy of Mr. Switzer's presentation materials are included in the committee meeting materials on file in the LRC library.
Mr. Switzer highlighted the economic contribution to the state from the equine industry. For example, he pointed out that of all sales of thoroughbreds at public auction, 74%, representing $795,749,300 in value, were sold in Kentucky.
Mr. Switzed went on to explain Mare Reproduction Loss Syndrome. He said that no firm conclusions have been made about the cause of the malady.
He finalized his comments by saying that it is important that the Kentucky thoroughbred industry take steps to rebuild confidence in Kentucky's industry. To do this he said that the cause of MRLS must be firmly established, the staffing of the state diagnostic lab must be sufficient, and that a crisis management plan must be developed.
The last topic for the meeting was to receive a report on implementation of 2001 legislation which encourages the redevelopment of brownfields. Brownfields are properties that have environmental contamination that prevents the property from being used.
Mr. Hank List, Deputy Secretary, Mr. Bob Logan, Mr. Rob Daniell, and Mr. Jeff Pratt of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, made the report. They pointed out that the brownfields law set a delayed effective date of June 21, 2002. The cabinet has developed an application and agreed order which will be used in the program. They also said that a memorandum of understanding is being developed with the Economic Development Cabinet to carry out the economic incentive aspect of the law. Finally, they said that a survey of other states with brownfields laws is being conducted.
Representative Thomas concluded the meeting by stating that tobacco warehouse owners have requested time to address the committee.
Co-Chairperson Jim Gooch stated his intent to bring the committee the topic of controls on nitrous oxide emissions.
Representative Eddie Ballard made a final point related to the ongoing effort of the cabinet to regulate large scale poultry production. He said he hoped the committee and the legislature could find a reasonable compromise to satisfy all the stakeholders in the issue.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 12:00.