Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 1st Meeting

of the 2007 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> June 13, 2007

 

The<MeetNo2> 1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources was held on<Day> Wednesday,<MeetMDY2> June 13, 2007, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Tom Jensen, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Senator Tom Jensen, Co-Chair; Representative Tom McKee, Co-Chair; Senators David E. Boswell, Ernie Harris, Dan Kelly, Bob Leeper, Vernie McGaha, Joey Pendleton, and Dorsey Ridley; Representatives Dwight D. Butler, Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, James R. Comer Jr, Tim Couch, Milward Dedman Jr, Mike Denham, C. B. Embry Jr, Keith Hall, Richard Henderson, Jimmy Higdon, Charlie Hoffman, Reginald Meeks, Brad Montell, Fred Nesler, David Osborne, Don Pasley, Tanya Pullin, Marie Rader, Rick Rand, Tom Riner, Steven Rudy, Dottie Sims, Brandon Smith, Jim Stewart III, Tommy Turner, Ken Upchurch, Robin L. Webb, and Susan Westrom.

 

Guests:† Mr. Ray Kruse, The Kentucky Campaign for Real Milk; Mr. Jay King, Dairy Cattle Producer; Mr. Mac Stone, Value-Added Plant Production Division, Kentucky Department of Agriculture; Dr. Robert Stout, State Veterinarian, Office of the State Veterinarian; Dr. Wade Northington, Murray State; Dr. Goodpasteur, Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association, Ms. Louise Cook, Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association.

 

LRC Staff:† Tanya Monsanto, Committee Staff Administrator; Biff Baker; Lowell Atchley; Hank Marks; and Lindsey Velasquez, Committee Assistant; and Stefan Kasacavage, Graduate Fellow.

 

The 1st meeting of the Interim Joint Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee was held on Wednesday, June 13, 2007, at 1:00 PM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex.† Senator Tom Jensen called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.†

 

Sen. Jensen recognized Rep. Westrom who gave the report of the Horse Farming Subcommittee.† After a motion and a second, the report was approved by voice vote.† Then, Sen. Jensen recognized Sen. McGaha who gave the report of the Rural Issues Subcommittee.† After a motion and a second, the report was approved by voice vote.† Finally, Sen. Harris gave the report of the Natural Resources Subcommittee. Then Rep. Webb stated in response to Sen. Harrisís remarks concerning conservation that Kentucky had a chance to be a state model for conservation. †Rep. Webb said that she intends to seek reauthorization of the task force. †This report also was approved by voice vote after a motion and a second.

 

Then Rep. Rudy announced the soybean-livestock barbeque which is identified in a flier distributed to the committee members.† Sen. Jensen asked the first presenters to deliver testimony on unpasturized milk.† Mr. Michael Judge with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture discussed non pasteurized milk and the history of a task force established to study the issue.† He stated the positions of both those seeking the right to sell unpasturized milk and milk products and those who are against it.† Mr. Judge concluded by stating the task force ended without reaching agreement.

 

Rep. Webb asked about the scope and magnitude of food borne illnesses from unpasturized milk.† Mr. Judge replied there is a broad range of food borne illnesses but the data would have to be provided later.

 

Sen. Pendleton asks if states which allow the sale of unpasturized milk also test cows for tuberculosis (TB) or bangs.† Are there certified disease-free herds that supply the milk?† Mr. Judge stated that it varies from state to state.† There have to be precautions to ensure the herds are healthy.

 

Sen. Boswell asked if there are federal rules that regulate the sale of unpasturized milk.† Mr. Judge replied that public health could better answer those questions.

 

Then Mr. King and Mr. Kruse, both dairy farmers, provided testimony to the committee on their desire to sell unpasturized milk and milk products.† Mr. Kruse discussed the rise of commercial dairies and how sanitation rules have changed over time as milk production became more mechanical.† He said that small farms know how to keep the milk clean and to prevent or localize food borne pathogens.† He said that the commercialization of the dairy business has driven small producers out of business and that the sale of raw milk could allow producers to sell at 8 times higher than current commercial grade milk.† Mr. Kruse recommended herd controls to prevent milk contamination.

 

Mr. King stated he is a farmer from Breckinridge county.† He described a portable milking system that can be used to satisfy the demand for raw milk.† Mr. King described the health benefits of raw milk and contended that sale of raw milk supports local farmers, the economy, and is environmentally friendly.† He stated that farmers can safely produce raw milk.

 

Sen. Jensen stated that he has concerns with the health safety of raw milk.† He asked the speakers if they disputed reported incidences of food borne illness.† Mr. Kruse replied no, but continued that the report from Mr. Judge did not provide the entire story.† He stated that the statistics are inflated.

 

Sen. Pendleton asked about what happens to the raw milk if it isnít sold quickly.† It cannot be stored for very long.† Will you feed it to livestock?† Mr. King said the sale of the milk would not be a problem and grass fed cows have less bacteria than grain fed.† Mr. King then showed the members a milk check.†

 

Sen. Pendleton continued by asking about the bacteria counts in the milk that they produce.† Sen. Pendleton pointed out to Mr. King that the count is identified on the milk check. ††Mr. King did not respond.

 

Rep. Butler thanked Mr. King for his testimony.† He asked how many states allow the sale of raw milk.† Mr. Kruse said over 30 states allow the sale of raw milk.

 

Rep. Hall asked what is the business impact of the sale of raw milk.† Is there demand in surrounding states.† Mr. King replied by stating how many cows he has and Mr. Kruse described the impact to local producers.

 

Sen. Boswell asked whether those states that allow the sale of raw milk has impacted liability insurance premiums.† The presenters stated no.

 

Rep. Sims asked if the presenters consumed their own milk.† They stated yes. Then, Sen. Jensen asked those testifying on behalf of the Department of Public Health to come to the table.† Those presenting were Mr. Clyde Bolton, Dr. Craig Humbaugh, Mr. Lewis Ramsey, and Laura Knoth representing Kentucky Farm Bureau.

 

Mr. Bolton began by stating pasteurization is the proper way to prepare milk for sale.† The Department of Public Health cannot condone the sale of raw milk.† Mr. Bolton then described the cases reported to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on food borne illnesses from raw milk.† The Kentucky Farm Bureauís dairy committee supports the position of the Department of Public Health, Laura Knoth stated.

 

Rep. Riner asked whether there is a risk in taking milk with antibiotics and hormones. Dr. Humbaugh stated there is no consensus; however, drinking raw milk is risky.† The type and amount of hormones and antibiotics in milk is regulated by the FDA.

 

Rep. Osborne stated there is significant consumption of raw products.† Is there a tracking of those currently using raw milk.† Mr. Bolton said no.

 

Rep. Westrom asked if any of the dairies produced ďreal milkĒ.† Mr. Bolton stated no.† It isnít allowed.† Then Sen. Leeper asked if there was any policy that milk producers could seek that would appease them.† Mr. Bolton stated no.† The sale of the unpasturized milk is the issue.

 

Sen. Jensen thanked the participants and then asked for representatives from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to give testimony on the regulation of ginseng.† Mr. Mac Stone with KDA described ginseng, and where it is found nationally and in Kentucky.† Mr. Stone explained that KDA monitors ginseng harvesting through a program established by the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife (USFW).† USFW has determined that Kentucky does not have sufficient controls and there is concern with poaching ginseng.†

 

Mr. Stone then identified KDAís legislative proposal for regulation of ginseng harvesting.† We would like to see stiffer penalties along with a due process provision.† We want to protect cultivators and request the establishment of a ginseng fund that would receive fines, license revenues and fees.

 

Rep. Pullin asked if there are value added businesses from ginseng.† Mr. Stone responded no, but there are personal health benefits which drives demand for the herb.

 

Rep. Stewart asked how much is a pound of ginseng seed.† One of the ginseng sellers in the audience responded that it would be worth around $800/lb.† Rep. Steward continued if KDA should sell ginseng seed.† KDA stated no.†

 

Rep. McKee remarked that both House and Senate introduced legislation to regulate ginseng.† He asked Mr. Stone if there were important things that needed to be addressed in legislation.† Mr. Stone replied that there are no strong due process provisions in statute. The Department of Fish and Wildlife does not want to regulate ginseng.

 

Next, Sen. Jensen asked the representatives from the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association (KVMA) and Office of the State Veterinarian (OSV) to speak on the issue of large animal veterinary medicine.† Also speaking was Dr. Aaron Northington with Murray State University.† †Dr. Goodpasteur began by describing concentrations of food animal operations and food animal veterinary practices.† He stated that there are veterinary shortages throughout the state and the shortage poses problems for the equine industry and in other related fields.

 

He went on to describe why those shortages exist. Dr. Goodpasteur explained that food animal producers would use extension services so vets turned to small animal practice. The livestock industry has changed and many family farms are no longer raising food animals. There is a concern with the education of producers who perform their own work until something serious occurs so there isnít enough consistent demand.† There are more small farms and these canít afford to use vets and there is a change in the demographics of veterinary medicine.† Large animal practice may not accord with the lifestyle considerations of those who have finished veterinary school.† One demographic is that there are more women in veterinary medicine and they tend not to go into large animal practice.

 

KVMA hopes to increase the number of slots for Kentucky residents at Auburn and we will request funding for those slots.† We hope to provide you with an update after working on the task force created by Kentucky Farm Bureau.

 

Then, Dr. Stout, the state veterinarian spoke.† He said that regulated agencies need large animal veterinarians.† There will be a turnover in state and federal government due to retirements.† The USDA had done considerable study of retirements and anticipate that at least one-third of the workforce will retire.† As the numbers decrease, thee will be competition for large animal veterinarians and the KDA will need to practice more oversight over practitioners when large veterinarians arenít available.

 

Dr. Northington, director of Murray State Universityís Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, stated that they are encountering some gaps in large animal practices across the state.† It is becoming an issue for the Diagnostic Laboratory.† We advocate several policy options such as debt reduction for those students going into veterinary medicine, expanded educational opportunities for students to attend one of the veterinary schools, more producer education and adaptation to veterinary shortages, and foster opportunities to attract youth to the field in the pre-vet years.

 

Rep. Denham asked about recruitment at the veterinary schools.† He said there are people who are denied that are qualified.† It seems we donít have enough slots or reciprocity with enough schools. Ms. Rana Johnson with the Council on Postsecondary Education identified the number of slots at the two veterinary schools:† Auburn and Tuskegee. Then Dr. Jim Applegate spoke about the relationship between the Kentucky Universities and the two veterinary schools.

 

Rep. Pullin commented that Kentucky should explore funding its own veterinary school. Senator Pendleton stated that Kentucky needs to complete the diagnostic lab before commencing to build a veterinary school. Sen. Pendleton added that Kentucky can prioritize slots for counties under severed or maybe forgive a portion of their tuition debt.

 

Rep. Pasley asked if they could identify the number of students going into large and small veterinary practices.† Dr. Applegate stated that that information could be provided to the committee.† Rep. Pasley asked a series of questions.† Do other states provide incentives?† Do you know the number of students that attended veterinary school elsewhere?† Dr. Applegate stated no.† Dr. Stout remarked that there is a precedent for students to attend other schools and commented how he had attended Ohio State.† Also the University of Georgia has a very good program.

 

Seeing that there were no additional questions, the meeting adjourned.