Call to Order and Roll Call
The5th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Friday, October 7, 2016, at 10:00 AM, in Seay Auditorium, University of Kentucky, Lexington, 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., Dennis Parrett, Damon Thayer, and Stephen West; Representatives Lynn Bechler, Denver Butler, Mike Denham, Myron Dossett, Kelly Flood, Derrick Graham, Richard Heath, James Kay, Kim King, Martha Jane King, Michael Meredith, Terry Mills, David Osborne, Tom Riner, Bart Rowland, Steven Rudy, Dean Schamore, Rita Smart, Wilson Stone, Chuck Tackett, Jeff Taylor, James Tipton, Tommy Turner, and Susan Westrom.
Guests: Representatives from the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Drew Graham, Assistant Dean, Dr. Nancy Cox, Dean, Dr. Rick Bennett, Associate Dean for Research and Director of Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station, Dr. Quinton R. Tyler, Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity, Dr. Richard Coffey, Chair, Department of Animal and Food Science, Dr. Subba Reddy Palli, Chair, Department of Entomology, Dr. Grayson Brown, Department of Entomology, Dr. Stephen Dobson, Department of Entomology, Dr. Seth DeBolt, Distillation, Wine and Brewing Program, Dr. Mick Peterson, Director of Equine Program and Ryan Quarles, Commissioner of Agriculture.
The August 27, 2016 minutes were approved by voice vote upon motion by Representative Rudy and second by Senator Thayer.
The September 14, 2016 minutes were approved by voice vote upon motion by Senator Thayer and second by Representative Rudy.
Welcome and Opening Remarks:
Drew Graham, Assistant Dean, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, introduced Dr. Nancy Cox, Dean, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Dr. Cox stated that the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is helping farmers to market local food. She said that UK has a partnership with Aramark Dining Service to provide “The Food Connection,” which helps to get more local food into UK dining halls. For the years 2015 and 2016, there has been a 17 percent increase in foods purchased from local farmers. UK and Aramark no longer consider Coke, ice and Pepsi as local foods. UK is working with local beef producers to help market their beef products throughout Kentucky. The university is training farmers who produce fruits and vegetables to complete required paperwork in order to sell to a bigger food service system.
Dr. Rick Bennett, Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station, stated that the external grants received over the year was $39 million, setting a record. Research at the UK College of Agriculture reaches all counties in the state. There is a true partnership among research, extension specialists, and county agents. The Grains and Forage Center of Excellence in Princeton will be a showcase for the state.
In response to Chairman Hornback, Dr. Bennett said that a philanthropist director was hired to work with members of the UK College of Agriculture and Research.
In response to Representative Tipton, Dr. Bennett said that the College is still committed to the industrial hemp program. Dr. Bennett said that the research is being used to look at agronomic applications and looking forward to growing the program.
Dr. Quinton Tyler, Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, said that diversity was the reality of Kentucky and the University of Kentucky. He said that 54 percent of the students in the College of Agriculture are female. Dr. Tyler stated the College has been innovative and creative in the programs that are offered to the students. He stated that he served as National Professional President of the organization, “Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. Eighteen years ago, the organization only had five members and now it is one of the largest with more than 137 members. The current National Professional President is from UK and presides over 75 chapters in 38 states. Students are being retained and are developing into premier diverse next generation of agriculture leaders. The organization represents over 40 companies, higher education institutions, and government agencies. The University of Kentucky is in the process of developing a partnership with the national FFA. The organization consists of a junior management program that educates youth in the importance of agriculture through 4-H and FFA. Dr. Tyler explained that the organization will be hosting a Women’s Empowerment Luncheon that will highlight the accomplishments of women in agriculture. Furthermore, the organization is working with the Governor’s Minority College Preparation Program.
In response to Representative Smart, Dr. Tyler said that extension has the Women in Agriculture Leadership Conference. UK has a diversity network that consists of UK and Kentucky State University employees.
Update on Research Programs
Dr. Richard Coffey, Chair, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, shared information about a new facility, The Dairy Housing, Teaching and Research Facility. The facility is a deep-bedded loose housing system (compost bedding packed barn). The bedding consists of approximately 12 inches of sawdust. Twice a day, a compost turner goes through the bedding to keep it dry and clean. There are 90 dairies in Kentucky that have this type of barn. The housing system works well for smaller dairy farms. UK is only one of two land grant facilities to have the housing system. The system will allow researchers to test cow comfort, cow well-being and health. One such comfort includes rubber mats at the feeding area. The cows are monitored for behavioral, physiological, and feeding behavior. For instance, cows can be monitored as to how many steps they take a day, rumination time, room and temperature, chewing time and more. Data collected thus far shows that the somatic cell count has dropped from 421,000 to 113,000. Another important figure is that milk production increased from 79.7 pounds herd average per day to 91.9 pounds per day.
In response to Chairman Hornback, Dr. Coffey said that the barn is cleaned out entirely about once a year.
Dr. Subba Reddy Palli, Chair, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, and Dr. Stephen Dobson, Department of Entomology Dr. Grayson Brown, Department of Entomology, discussed their research programs. Dr. Palli said that the Entomology Department is considered a premier Entomology department in the nation. The research conducted ranges from fundamental to applied research in the field. The department is discovering new ways to control insects without harming the environment. The department is also researching honey bees and other pollinators to improve their health. The department is looking at ways to improve lawn care and eliminate golf course pests.
Dr. Dobson, Medical Livestock Entomologist, said that in 1989 the department was able to identify the first outbreak of the West Nile virus. The department is now looking at increasing insecticide resistance and looking at climate change and insects coming in to the United States that are spreading several diseases such as Zika. There is a challenge in developing new ways to combat these diseases.
Dr. Brown, Public Health Entomologist, said that he works closely with the state Public Health Department. The Department trains emergency response teams throughout the state as well as public health workers on mosquito identification. In March, the department organized a large international summit in Brazil, and last month it organized a global meeting from leaders around the world. The department also researches epidemiological abatement.
In response to Senator Parrett, Dr. Dobson said he is seeing resistance to certain insecticides because there have been no new active ingredients developed for the past 30 years.
In response to Chairman Hornback, Dr. Palli said that a lot of progress has been made over the last five years to reduce the loss of honey bees and other pollinators. Dr. Palli said he is optimistic that the problems could be eliminated over the next few years.
Dr. Seth DeBolt, Distillation, Wine and Brewing Program, University of Kentucky, said that over 76 small wineries have emerged in Kentucky since the late 1990s. There is also a growth in craft and brewing distilling. UK has an undergraduate program which is helping students realize that there are opportunities available to them in the distillation, wine ,and brewing industry. There is also an opportunity for research and specialty crops in agriculture. Cider is the fastest growing element of the craft brewing industry. Research is needed to help the growers and industry re-establish itself in Kentucky by developing new varieties of apples and grapes. Dr. DeBolt said that research is ongoing in the bourbon industry. There are excellent paying jobs in the industry that require a science background. Dr. DeBolt hopes that UK will develop a Master’s Program.
In response to Chairman Hornback, Dr. DeBolt said that a barrel containing bourbon is only used one time due to the lack of wood sugar content. It is also the law.
In response to Representative McKee, Dr. DeBolt said the goal of the large brewing companies is to create consistency. The craft industry has different goals. Consumers want taste variations that the craft industry can supply. The craft industry’s survival will depend upon local consumers.
In response to Representative Kay, Dr. DeBolt said that it is important to abide by the laws and get the correct licenses before going into the craft business.
In response to Representative Meredith, Dr. DeBolt said the program at Western Kentucky University is exciting for the college and community.
In response to Representative Taylor, Dr. DeBolt said he is not aware of any Kentucky brewery using 100 percent Kentucky products. The Kentucky Distillers’ Association is working with small distilleries to allow sales at the cellar door.
Dr. Mick Peterson, Director of Equine Program, University of Kentucky, said that he will begin as Director of the Equine Program in January. The Kentucky brand is huge for the entire agricultural sector which includes bourbon and horseracing. There is no place in the world that has a research university that is sitting at the center of breeding, racing, and the equestrian sport. The University of Kentucky embodies research, teaching, and extension, which originated at land grant universities. The equine program opens many different types of opportunities for students. The foal crop for 2016 is up 2 percent over last year, and next year’s projection looks the same.
Representative Graham requested that legislators include more funding for higher institutions of learning in the next budget.
Representative Denham said he is concerned about the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and a new regulation on horse soring. The new regulation could have a serious negative impact on the show horse industry.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.