The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources was held on Wednesday, September 13, 2006, at 9:00 AM, at the University of Kentucky E.S. Goodbarn. Representative Thomas M McKee, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Tom Jensen, Co-Chair; Representatives Jim Gooch Jr, Co-Chair, and Thomas M McKee, Co-Chair; Senators Ernie Harris, Robert J (Bob) Leeper, Vernie McGaha, Joey Pendleton, Ernesto Scorsone, and Damon Thayer; Representatives Royce W Adams, Adrian K Arnold, James E Bruce, Dwight D Butler, Mike Cherry, James R Comer Jr, Tim Couch, Mike Denham, Reginald K Meeks, Brad Montell, Fred Nesler, Don R Pasley, Marie L Rader, Steven Rudy, Brandon D Smith, Jim Stewart III, Tommy Turner, Ken Upchurch, Robin L Webb, and Susan Westrom.
Legislative Guests: Representative Rocky Adkins and Senator Alice Forgy Kerr.
Guests: President Lee Todd, University of Kentucky; Dean Scott Smith, UK College of Agriculture; Molly Turner; Michael Judge, Kentucky Department of Agriculture; Marshall Coyle, Laura Knoth, Brian Alvey, and Jeff Harper, Kentucky Farm Bureau; Drew Graham and Nancy Cox, University of Kentucky.
LRC Staff: Tanya Monsanto, Biff Baker, Hank Marks, Lowell Atchley, and Kelly Blevins.
Rep. McKee thanked the members for their attendance at the third meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. This meeting is being held in conjunction with the University of Kentucky's (UK) Agricultural Round-up which is co-sponsored by the Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB).
Then, Rep. McKee asked the members to stand and participate in a moment of silence in remembrance of Dr. Larry Turner and all of the victims of the crash of Comair flight 5191. Afterwards, Rep. McKee asked that Ms. Molly Turner, daughter of Dr. Larry Turner, be escorted to the table in front of the committee for the reason of receiving a memorial resolution in remembrance of Dr. Turner. Ms. Turner thanked the committee and accepted the resolution.
Then, Rep. McKee asked President Lee Todd and UK Dean of Agriculture, Dr. Scott Smith to present some remarks to the committee concerning the University of Kentucky. Dr. Smith stated that the UK county extension program has been a very important facet of the UK's delivery of service to farmers. He also talked about the importance of partnering with Kentucky Farm Bureau.
President Todd thanked the committee for the memorial resolution and for the financial support of the extension enhancement program and the diagnostic lab. He stated that those are key elements in becoming a top 20 university. In the last budget cycle, the legislature asked the university to implement certain changes and the university has been involved in building a business plan.
There have been dramatic results, President Todd stated. The university has moved up 5 slots nationally, and the college of medicine and the cancer institute have improved their ranking too. Academic research in the area of agriculture has been very strong, and the university anticipates creating 84 new jobs. The biotechnology program is one of the best in the nation. We are in process of moving traditional agriculture into the future.
Rep. McKee recognized several legislators for the purpose of introducing guests in attendance. Then, Rep. McKee invited Mr. Marshall Coyle, president of KFB to offer some remarks. Mr. Coyle thanked the committee for attending the Agricultural Round-up and for the memorial resolution. He talked about the policy development process at KFB which will culminate in December. This should give enough time for KFB to prepare a legislative agenda. Then, Mr. Colye mentioned some of the policies that were very important to KFB. First, the continuation of investing 50% of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) funds into agriculture. Second, helping to improve production practices and to be better stewards of the land and water. Third, supporting UK's research agenda is important because farmers benefit. Fourth, supporting renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.
Rep. McKee called for a motion to approve the minutes from the August meeting. After a motion and a second, the minutes were approved. Rep. McKee asked Mr. Mike Judge, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, to give an update on the Raw Milk Task Force.
Mr. Judge explained that the task force was established pursuant to House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 209 which examined the sale of non-pasturized milk and milk products directly to the public. It is an important issue and the task force held 3 meetings. Then Mr. Judge described the membership of the task force. He stated that the advocates of selling unpasturized milk products claim that there are some health benefits and that it is a freedom of choice issue. Opponents claim that the sale of unpasturized milk and milk products is risky. All other states that allow for the sale of unpasturized milk products have higher incidences of sickness.
According to Mr. Judge, the proponents seek a series of policy changes. First, they desire regulatory relief for small scale producers. Second, they would like to sell unpasturized milk and milk products directly to consumers both from the farm and through retail outlets. Third, they seek a legal definition of animal share contracts. The proponents argue that testing and inspection of the animals and facilities is sufficient to ensure public health and that sales of raw goat milk directly to the public currently is permitted with a prescription from a doctor.
Mr. Judge added that there was no agreement obtained between the proponents and the opponents regarding sale of unpasturized milk products to the public. The Office of the State Veterinarian also contends that the testing regime demanded by the sale of raw products is too difficult to set up. There is no agreement on who will be responsible for the testing, who will fund the testing, and what pathogens should be tested for. However, the task force did agree that the regulations on small producers could be reduced.
The "animal share" issue will likely become more important in the future. Currently the statues are silent on the issue and there may need to be some legislative action to include labeling and warning in the animal share contract. Rep. McKee thanked Mr. Judge for his testimony and asked the members to hold their comments and questions.
Then, Rep. McKee asked Mr. Drew Graham to provide the members with information about the tours and luncheon following the committee meeting. There was a motion and second and the committee adjourned.