Call to Order and Roll Call
The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Thursday, August 25, 2016, at 10:00 AM, in the VIP Room, Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky. Representative Tom McKee, 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., David P. Givens, Stan Humphries, Dennis Parrett, Dorsey Ridley, Damon Thayer, and Robin L. Webb; Representatives Lynn Bechler, Denver Butler, Derrick Graham, David Hale, Richard Heath, James Kay, Kim King, Martha Jane King, Michael Meredith, Suzanne Miles, Terry Mills, David Osborne, Sannie Overly, Tom Riner, Bart Rowland, Steven Rudy, Dean Schamore, Rita Smart, Wilson Stone, Chuck Tackett, Jeff Taylor, and James Tipton.
Guests: Miss Kentucky Laura Jones, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, John McCauley and David Duncan, Farm Service Agency.
The July 20, 2016, minutes were approved by voice vote, upon motion made by Senator Thayer and second by Representative Tackett.
Mayor Fischer welcomed committee members and talked about food and bourbon being used as local assets for drawing people to the Commonwealth. He also stated that the local food movement has created better relationships between city and farm.
Introduction of Kentucky State Fair Board members and IJC on Agriculture members
Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles pointed out that the Department of Agriculture had virtually moved to the Fairgrounds during the State Fair. The numerous volunteers and individuals should be commended for the many hours of work to make the State Fair successful. He also talked about the benefits that the renovations to the Grain Center for Excellence would have on Kentucky and surrounding states. Through the Agricultural Finance Corporation, over half of the $55 million loan portfolio is dedicated to new and beginning farmers. Due to the Ag Tag Fund Drive, 4-H and FFA each received $184,000. The number of sheep and hog exhibits are up from last year. The Farm to Food Banks Trust Fund is helping to address issues relating to hunger in the Commonwealth.
Dr. Mark Lynn, Chairman, Kentucky State Fair Board, commended the hard work of Steve Kelly and Anthony Leachman, interim joint CEOs of the Kentucky State Fair Board, for keeping the State Fair moving forward. All members of the State Fair Board were in attendance at the committee meeting. He expressed gratitude to the new members serving on the board.
Steve Kelly, Interim Joint CEO, Kentucky State Fair, explained that the fair showcases Kentucky’s agricultural history and recognizes young an old exhibitors. The State Fair has over a $15 million impact on the economy. It is important to understand that outside conventions contribute to the economic success of the Fairgrounds. He said that it is clear that there are areas, including infrastructure, at the Fairgrounds in need of significant repair. The board will continue to look at new ways to make the fair even more successful.
In response to Representative Stone, Mr. Kelly said that swine and sheep had record high entries, beef exhibitors were down a little, and dairy entries and horse show entries were consistent with previous years. Mr. Kelly said he had not had an opportunity to compare premiums with other states, but felt that the premiums in Kentucky are competitive.
Dr. Lynn explained that some shows had scratches because children were in school. The board is offering free internet connection and training rooms where children may continue school work. It is important for youth to be able to participate in the fair.
Senator Thayer stated that last year there was a Senate Bill that would have mandated that school not start until the Monday after August 26, but there was considerable pushback on taking away local control of school calendars. The language in the bill was changed to read that the 170-day minimum of school instruction be eliminated for those school districts that would agree to the later school calendar start date. Even though the bill did not make it through the process, it will be presented again during the 2017 Regular Session. Research showed that the early start date of school leads to an economic loss of $400 million and of approximately $40 million in tax revenue to Kentucky.
In response to a question from Representative Mills, Mr. Kelly said that there is availability for a non-profit organization booth. Non-profit organizations are not charged the same as commercial vendors.
In response to Representative Smart, Dr. Cox stated that there are several consumer youth projects, such as preparing and curing a country ham. She said that there are over 800 country hams in competition.
Representative Graham said that children attending the fair can receive an excused absence if they have proof. Children should be educated and be college and career ready.
Senator Humphries encouraged the State Fair Board to find ways to accommodate non-profit organizations. He pointed out that the Lions Club promotes eye tests and provides glasses to those in need.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.