Call to Order and Roll Call
The2nd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, at 10:00 AM, at the University of Kentucky Research and Education Center, Princeton, Ky. 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 C.B. Embry Jr., Stan Humphries, Dennis Parrett, Dorsey Ridley, Robin L. Webb, Stephen West, and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives Lynn Bechler, Will Coursey, Myron Dossett, Kelly Flood, Derrick Graham, David Hale, Richard Heath, James Kay, Kim King, Martha Jane King, Michael Meredith, Suzanne Miles, Terry Mills, Sannie Overly, Ryan Quarles, Bart Rowland, Steven Rudy, John Short, Rita Smart, Wilson Stone, and James Tipton.
Guests: Representative Jim Gooch. Danny Beavers, Mayor, City of Princeton; Ellen Dunning, County Judge Executive, Caldwell County; Dr. Nancy Cox, Dean, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Dr. Lloyd Murdock, Interim Director, UK Research and Education Center, Princeton; Dr. Rick Bennett, Associate Dean for Research, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Dr. Chad Lee, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Dave Maples, Executive Director, Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association; Russel Schwenke, President, Kentucky Corn Growers Association; Philip McCoun, Chairman, Kentucky Corn Promotion Council; Pat Clements, President, Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association; Don Halcomb, Chairman, Kentucky Small Grain Promotion Council; Jamie Guffey, Executive Director, Kentucky Poultry Federation; Mike Burchett, President, Kentucky Soybean Association; Ryan Bivens, Secretary/Treasurer, Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board; Mark Haney, President, Kentucky Farm Bureau; Steve Coleman, Chairman, Water Management Working Group, Kentucky Farm Bureau; and Bonnie Jolly, Kentucky Pork Producers.
The June 10, 2015 minutes were approved by voice vote, upon motion made by Representative Stone and second by Representative Mills.
Overview of UK’s Princeton Research and Education Center and Grain Center of Excellence
Dr. Nancy Cox, Dean, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, stated the Princeton Research and Education Center (UKREC) provides valuable research for beef, poultry, grains and other numerous agriculture related projects. The Center has aged over the years and it is now time to upgrade the facility.
Dr. Lloyd Murdock, Interim Director, UKREC, explained that the Center was established in 1925 as the West Kentucky Substation. In 1885, the Agricultural Experiment Station was established as the research arm of the College of Agriculture of the University of Kentucky and has functioned as a center of agricultural activities. Research has been done on liming, fertilizer application, conservation practices, seeding mixture improvements and eventually crop and animal production were added. Throughout the years, research at the Center has made great advancements towards increasing crop yields and livestock production. Dr. Murdock said Kentucky farmers have been able to increase their returns by millions of dollars annually. Dr. Murdock explained that no-till research originated at the Princeton facility. Now, a farming method that some would argue has impacted United States agriculture most significantly, no-till is known worldwide and Princeton, Kentucky is noted for where it originated. UKREC is now at a point where more resources and technology are needed to move forward. Modern updates to the facility are required in order to provide new technology, the ability to teach courses on campus and provide quality research.
Dr. Chad Lee, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, explained the purpose of the Kentucky Grains Center of Excellence is to enhance Kentucky’s sustainable grain crops so Kentucky farmers may help feed the world, protect the environment, expand the Kentucky economy, and pass their farms to the next generation. He said the challenge is to help growers increase grains and oilseeds production efficiency and to reduce the environmental footprint.
Dr. Lee explained the vision for the Kentucky Grains Center of Excellence should be: people who tackle important issues in grains agriculture; a recognized center in the region and internationally; to connect local producers, industries and citizens; and state of the art facilities that allow the goals to be achieved.
Dr. Lee said corn, soybeans and wheat generate millions of dollars each year for labor and income. Within eighty miles of Princeton, 80 percent of grain crops are grown in the region.
Dr. Lee explained that the Center is comprised of several tracts of property, one of which is Kevil 60. The tract is leased from a family but he is not sure how much longer that will continue. It is a tract the Center would like to keep as it is an integral part of the farm.
Dr. Lee discussed designs showing the rendering of the new proposed Center with modifications. The onetime project cost is estimated at approximately $24 million.
Representative Quarles asked about the legislative veto of House Bill 510. Senator Hornback said there was a provision in House Bill 510 that initially provided the funding for the Grains Research Center. Once it became apparent that it would cost more than originally stated, it was decided to gather more information from the University of Kentucky before moving forward. The Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy was directed to set aside $4 million until a firm plan could be approved. Senator Hornback also noted that the first no-till field ever planted was in Christian County.
Representative McKee stated that investing in the new Research Center would be an investment for the entire Commonwealth.
In response to Representative Smart, Mr. Lee said that a lot of product is shipped via the Ohio or Mississippi River. Over one-half of the soybeans produced in Kentucky were exported. Kentucky grows approximately 1.5 million acres of corn each year.
Update on Kentucky’s Beef Cattle Industry
Dave Maples, Executive Director, Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association (KCA), Gary Woodall, President of the KCA, Steve Dunning, KCA Program Chair and Jeff Pettit, member, spoke about the importance of having a grain center. Mr. Maples explained that Kentucky was the largest cattle producing state east of the Mississippi River. Kentucky ranks 5th nationally in the number of farms and has over 1.1 million beef cows. The Association’s mission is to provide a strong voice for all of Kentucky’s beef farm families and serves as a resource for information and education for producers, and as a catalyst for enhancing producer profitability. The Princeton UK Research Center provides a wealth of information that is critical to the beef producers in Kentucky. Producers use grain as a source of feed and it is important to have the best grain possible. Through research, the Center has provided valuable information and techniques in growing grains.
Update on Kentucky’s Corn and Small Grain Industry
Mr. Russel Schwenke, President, Kentucky Corn Grower’s Association, Philip McCoun, Chairman, Kentucky Corn Promotion Council, Pat Clements, President, Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association and Don Halcomb, Chairman, Kentucky Small Grain Promotion Council, stated that 50 percent of the corn grown in Kentucky is used for livestock/poultry feed. Other uses include fuel, exports and food and beverage. He also stated that wheat was the second largest grain crop grown in Kentucky. The UK Research Center is important to all of Kentucky. Kentucky is producing food for not only its own citizens, but is exporting grains to other states and countries.
In response to Representative Bechler, Mr. Schwenke said that the current yield per acre is 153 bushels. Approximately 10 percent is exported.
Update on Kentucky’s Poultry Industry
Mr. Jamie Guffey, Executive Director, Kentucky Poultry Federation, stated that poultry is the #1 agriculture commodity in Kentucky. Broiler production ranks #2 in Kentucky and #7 nationally. Mr. Guffey stated farm revenue of poultry for 2014 was in excess of $1.2 billion. There are approximately 1,000 family owned poultry farms and that number increases each year.
Mr. Guffey said that assistance is needed in the area of truck weight variance, more university research that focuses on poultry, exempt sales tax status for bedding and veterinarian supplies, help with increasing utility rates, and loan and grant programs.
In response to Representatives Tipton and Senator Webb, Mr. Guffey said that in light of the bird flu, greater care has been taken in truck washes, limited access on poultry farms and trying to keep migratory birds away.
Update on Kentucky’s Soybean Industry
Mr. Mike Burchett, President, Kentucky Soybean Association and Ray Bivens, Secretary/Treasurer, Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board, discussed concerns on federal policies regarding the Waters of the United States. Mr. Burchett stated that there are 1.8 million acres of soybeans grown in Kentucky. Mr. Bivens stated that research is important to the economic impact for Kentucky and internationally. Over one-half of the soybeans grown in Kentucky are exported, mostly to China.
Comments from Kentucky Farm Bureau
Mr. Mark Haney, President, Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) and Steve Coleman, Chairman, Water Management Working Group, Kentucky Farm Bureau, spoke on the newly formed Water Management Working Group. Mr. Haney said the Group is a 20 member task force assembled by KFB to develop recommendations that enhance the quality and quantity of water resources accessible for agricultural production in the state and to help alleviate demand pressure on municipal water supplies. Mr. Coleman said the mission of the Group is to research emerging critical issues of inadequate water supplies available for agricultural production, examine potential actions to solve deficiencies and make recommendations for new and reliable water sources to key areas in Kentucky that will benefit both agriculture and municipal water customers.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:15 p.m.