Call to Order and Roll Call
The4th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Friday, September 5, 2014, at 10:00 AM, at the E.S. Good Barn, Lexington, Kentucky. Senator Paul Hornback, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Paul Hornback, Co-Chair; Representative Tom McKee, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., David P. Givens, Dennis Parrett, Damon Thayer, and Robin L. Webb, Representatives Mike Denham, Jim Glenn, Derrick Graham, Richard Heath, James Kay, Kim King, Michael Meredith, Suzanne Miles, Terry Mills, Sannie Overly, Ryan Quarles, Tom Riner, Bart Rowland, Jonathan Shell, John Short, Rita Smart, Wilson Stone, and Tommy Turner.
Legislative Guests: House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Representative Jim Gooch.
Guests: Drew Graham, Assistant Dean, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Dr. Eli Capilouto, President, University of Kentucky; Dr. Nancy Cox, Dean, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Dr. Jimmy Henning, Associate Dean for Extension, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Dr. Larry Grabau, Associate Dean for Instruction, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and Dr. Will Snell, Department of Agricultural Economics, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
The August 21, 2014 minutes were approved without objection upon motion made by Representative Sannie Overly and second by Representative Ryan Quarles.
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Dr. Eli Capilouto, President, University of Kentucky (UK) discussed current projects and recent announcements at the university. He said that Mr. Bill Gatton had gifted UK $20 million to support a new student center. UK recently announced a record breaking enrollment of first year students. The university is in the middle of several construction projects totaling approximately one billion dollars. UK is looking at creative ways to finance future projects. For example, it has a 15 year contract with Aramark, guaranteeing approximately $245 million in new facilities, renovations and commissions while lowering dining prices and meal plans for students. Aramark committed approximately $5 million to purchasing local or Kentucky Proud foods. Dr. Capilouto said he will address the Board of Trustees about the need for a multidisciplinary research facility. The university is focusing on serving the Commonwealth through new partnerships. An emphasis on food, nutrition and the health of the Commonwealth is essential as the university moves forward.
In response to Senator Robin Webb, Dr. Capilouto said that former dean Scott Smith and a committee reviewed and vetted the companies that were interested in providing food service to the university. Aramark is a Fortune 500 company. The committee will address any concerns raised about the quality of food or service.
In response to Representative Rita Smart, Dr. Capilouto agreed that ovarian cancer screening research at the university has made a difference. Participation in colorectal screening is also showing positive differences in preventable deaths.
Chairman Hornback commented on the tour of the hemp research plot at UK's Spindletop Research Farm before the start of the meeting. He asked Mr. Andy Graves and Mr. Tom Hutchens to discuss the research plot. Mr. Graves, a promoter of hemp, said the question of whether hemp is a viable industry for Kentucky still needs to be discussed and additional research is needed. Mr. Hutchens explained that the high quality of hemp seeds produces protein, oils, and high omega products. Canada is diversifying its hemp products and is exporting 75 percent to the United States. The United States will need to look at infrastructure and give states flexibility for development and research.
UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Programs
Drew Graham, Assistant Dean, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, welcomed members to their 10th year of attending UK Roundup. He introduced Dr. Nancy Cox, Dean, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, who has been busy promoting UK agriculture.
Dean Cox stated that the hemp research plot had tested the agronomic skills of the land grant agriculture college. UK is celebrating 100 years of extension. The university takes statewide prosperity seriously. UK is working to take a collaborative approach with the Centers for Disease Control to reduce obesity across Kentucky. Public/private partnerships may also be involved. She said the equine science programs are growing.
In response to Chairman Hornback, Dean Cox said the freshman class have a record enrollment.
Dr. Will Snell, Department of Agricultural Economics, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, said Kentucky still has good income in land values, but the agriculture economy goes through cycles. Because of high prices on corn and soybeans, farmers planted more acres of grain, which will impact the market by having excess grain. The market prices will probably decrease. Dr. Snell said he attended federal farm bill training to get some educational initiatives started. Farm Service Agencies are trying to understand new regulations so they can relay the information to farmers. The livestock market is prospering, and this should continue. The last tobacco payments are being made in September to farmers who participated in the buy-out program. Farmers who are still growing tobacco may face excess tobacco on the market. Companies will be more selective in tobacco grading, which means lower returns. Dr. Snell said that the equine section is cautiously optimistic that fall sales will be strong. November projections for agriculture as a whole look good. Kentucky should place a renewed emphasis on international export marketing.
In response to Chairman Hornback, Dr. Snell said the dairy industry is doing better because of higher milk prices and lower grain prices.
In response to Senator Dennis Parrett, Dr. Snell said the Farm Service Agency will be updating and correcting information that was sent earlier regarding yields and acreages. Signup will continue through February or March of 2015.
Representative Suzanne Miles stated that the Farm Service Agency realizes there is a problem with the burden of proof inherent on the farmers or landowners to prove acreage or yields.
Dr. Jimmy Henning, Associate Dean for Extension, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, explained that Kentucky was one of the few states that had extension agents before they were available nationwide. There are only eleven vacancies. Some local governments have stepped up to provide funding for their local agents. Extension is partnering with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in the Plate It Up program. This program has improved nutrition for 7,200 adults and 3,200 children. The college is also involved in the Agriculture Water Quality Act. 4-H involvement is part of a community’s fabric. Children in 4-H are more likely to become civic minded and geared toward a scientific career.
In response to Chairman Hornback, Dr. Henning said that the Environmental Protection Agency wants to define its control in the Agriculture Water Quality Act but that more conversation is needed.
Chairman Hornback stated that the language contained in the Act leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation and is unfair to the agricultural community.
In response to Senator Robin Webb, Dr. Henning explained that the 4-H Livestock Volunteer Certification Program and the annual continuing education training is about providing young people the very best educational experience.
In response to Senator Walter Blevins, Dr. Henning said that 108 counties have county funding. County funding makes a difference in the quality of programs offered through Extension.
Dr. Larry Grabau, Associate Dean for Instruction, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment stated that 399 freshman had enrolled so far for 2014. The retention rate for freshman continuing into their sophomore year is excellent. Classes for equine science are up, but agriculture economics, social science and human nutrition are down. Initiatives for improving programs include hiring additional academic coordinators and master level professionals whose role is to work directly with students. The college is adding several new programs and strengthening student initiatives.
Chairman Hornback recognized Commissioner James Comer, Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Commissioner Comer commended everyone involved in promoting the new beginning farmer program.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.