Call to Order and Roll Call
The4th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at 10:00 AM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Paul Hornback, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Paul Hornback, Co-Chair; Representative Richard Heath, Co-Chair; Senators C.B. Embry Jr., Dennis Parrett, Dorsey Ridley, Damon Thayer, Stephen West, and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives Myron Dossett, Derrick Graham, David Hale, Mark Hart, Angie Hatton, James Kay, Kim King, Suzanne Miles, Jason Petrie, Phillip Pratt, Rick Rand, Brandon Reed, Rob Rothenburger, Steven Rudy, Walker Thomas, James Tipton, Tommy Turner, and Susan Westrom.
Guests: Dr. Nancy Cox, Dean, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Kentucky, Scott Smith, Chair, and Lilian Brislen, Executive Director, The Food Connection, University of Kentucky, Tom Brown, Food Service Director, Kentucky Department of Parks, Jessica Rush, Administrator, Branch Manager, Department of Parks, Steve Kelly, Executive Director of Expositions, Kentucky Venues, Matthew Moss, Levy Concessions and Catering, Dave Maples, Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, and David Neville, Farmer and Marketer, Shelbyville, Kentucky, Dr. Orlando Chambers, Director, Anne Jack and George Wagner, Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development.
The July 12, 2017 minutes were approved by voice vote, without objection, upon motion made by Senator Parrett and seconded by Senator Westerfield.
The August 29, 2017 minutes were approved by voice vote, without objection, upon motion made by Senator Westerfield and seconded by Representative Rudy.
Discussion on the Use of Local Food in State Entities
Dr. Nancy Cox, Dean, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Kentucky, Scott Smith, Chair and Dr. Lilian Brislen, Executive Director, The Food Connection at the University of Kentucky discussed the use of local foods at the University of Kentucky. Dean Cox explained that it was the responsibility of the University of Kentucky to work with partners to develop new technologies and systems to help increase farm income. She said that UK developed a unique partnership with Aramark to run the dining contract using local foods in the dining areas.
Scott Smith discussed the Kentucky-impact food purchases at the University of Kentucky. The contract with Aramark was signed in 2014 and contained stringent requirements in regard to sourcing food. The initial purchasing commitment included $2 million worth of food that was Kentucky Proud or local. In 2017, the revised contract committed $1.65 million to Kentucky food and farm business impact purchases with $0.65 million required to have some foods containing Kentucky farm sourced ingredients. The contract also included financial penalties for failure to meet the requirements. The initial contract created and funded The Food Connection. The mission is to support the development of farm to institution supply chains at UK and elsewhere; leverage the resources of the UK Dining contract to advance the land grant mission of the University and to review and assess qualifying Kentucky impact purchasing. Mr. Smith stated that the challenges of “local” sourcing for institutional food service providers, particularly to a global food service provider like Aramark, is the inconsistencies of a provider’s business model for local foods.
Dr. Brislen stated that commitment, collaboration and consistent metrics have been key factors in making the farm to campus or local food on campus campaign successful. Revisions for the term of 2016 through 2017 are as follows: excludes food/beverage that is only bottled, repackaged or distributed in Kentucky; converge with Kentucky Proud Buy Local; redefines “local” as Kentucky farm or food business impact and a specific requirement for sourcing products from Kentucky farms.
Dr. Brislen stated that there are opportunities and innovations in local food sourcing for institutions. Through the efforts of working with the Kentucky Beef Taskforce and in response to the farm impact requirement, the dining partners are working with Kentucky Meat Packaging to develop new farm impact products. The Food Connection has been working with the Cultivate Kentucky Partnership in order to work one-on-one with the growers through an extension agent. The University of Kentucky Hospital, which operates under a separate management contract, has introduced Kentucky sourced chicken, beef and produce in its dining operations.
In response to Chairman Hornback, Dr. Brislen stated that under the new dining metrics, Coca-Cola is not being counted as local foods anymore.
In response to Chairman Hornback, Mr. Smith said they are working to overcome the consistency of supply, but there will be some barriers with local seasonal production for vegetables. Dr. Brislen stated that progress is being made with growers by understanding the need for produce all year.
In response to Representative Tipton, Mr. Smith explained that the contract with Aramark is for 15 years starting in 2014. It is hard to define the price of meals because of the restructured meal plans, but the contract specifies how the prices are determined. There are options for students that range from less expensive meal plans to more expensive. Producers have found that they can make a profit by selling to Piazza Produce who sells to large scale institutions.
Dr. Brislen stated that Kentucky has great wholesale growers and farm business people that can enter the market. The issue is working out the logistics, the business relationships and finding ways to integrate local food into what was formerly a national system.
In response to Representative Hatton, Mr. Smith said the program is growing and is starting to look outward from the campus. The mission of the Food Connection is to reach out to all areas of the state including Appalachia, but he said that the Food Connection does not yet have a formal relationship with Appalachia Proud. Dean Cox also commented that UK does work extensively with the Chop Shop.
In response to Senator Hornback, Mr. Smith said that apples are a viable product that needs to be cultivated.
Mr. Tom Brown, Food Service Director, Kentucky Department of Parks, explained that Kentucky parks started supporting Kentucky Proud in 2005 and purchased over $600,000 in Kentucky Proud products last year. There was a drop in 2016 purchases because of fire damage to the Jenny Wiley and Greenbo Lake parks, which closed. Also, the coffee contract was changed from John Conti to Gordon Food Service. Some significant obstacles to using Kentucky Proud products was price, getting the product delivered to the parks and the process of having to call various producers to place an order. Another issue can be payment. He said that the producer has to be in the system and wait a period of time to get payment. Otherwise, they have to be able to accept a credit card to receive payment immediately. Mr. Brown said that the department is working with Clems Food to provide a Kentucky beef product that is 100 percent.
Mr. Brown said that some notable successes has been moving chicken and fish breading to Blend Pac Foods in Bloomfield, Kentucky. Adding Kentucky products for distribution through their grocer and meat providers allows the items to be ordered and delivered. As of January 2017, all fresh 8-piece chicken comes from Pilgrim’s Pride in Mayfield. The parks host several events featuring local products and all Frankfort cafeterias offer an all Kentucky Hemp Dawg.
Mr. Steve Kelly, Executive Director of Expositions, Kentucky Venues, Matthew Moss, Hospitality, Levy Concessions and Catering, and Dave Maples, Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association. Mr. Kelly said that Kentucky Venues has a good working relationship with the commodity groups. The pork producers use at least 85 percent of local products. Mr. Moss said that the hospitality business is a fluctuating business depending on the number of people and plates being prepared. About 60 percent of Levy Concessions and Catering is concessions. Levy Concessions purchases 16 percent of local products. Even though that might not sound like much, he said that at least 30 percent of the business at the Kentucky Expo is beverage business which leaves 70 percent of the business to purchase local products. Kentucky Venues has entered into a partnership with Gordon Food Service (GFS) making it possible to track and trace the movement of the products. The Kentucky Exposition Center and the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) are in the process of developing Kentucky Proud local menus. Mr. Moss said that Levy’s target for 2020 is to be purchasing 30 percent of products locally.
Dave Maples, Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association (KCA), stated that KCA runs a concession stand at the Kentucky State Fair. He said that Kentucky does not have the infrastructure it needs to transport local foods. When running a concession stand, the Health Department has an effect on how the food is served. KCA sold 11,000 hamburgers that had a Kentucky connection. KCA is working hard to find a way to track beef as it is shipped and processed.
Mr. Kelly said that Kentucky Venues supports local foods by working with producers to provide exhibit space.
Mr. David Neville, Farmer and Marketer, discussed barriers for institutional purchasing. Trade incentives hamper the market. He also pointed out that seasonality, quantity/quality, logistics, consumer demand and price points of local produce can be managed. Mr. Neville also discussed Kentucky farm impact, remedies for trade incentives, and enforcement of SB 84 and HB 166. The outcome of using local products is that the money stays in Kentucky and people are healthier. With hard work, Kentucky could become a national leader in local foods economy.
Overview of the Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center
Dr. Orlando Chambers, Director, Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center (KTRDC) explained that the mission of KTRDC is to preserve and strengthen tobacco agriculture in Kentucky; facilitate the progress of commercial endeavors in crop agriculture which has potential to provide new market opportunities for tobacco growers; and apply, when appropriate, previously authorized research initially conducted with tobacco to other plants which might be grown commercially in Kentucky. KTRDC is funded by the state cigarette tax. The Tobacco Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was enacted in 2009. At the time, the priorities were preventing youth from using tobacco, smoking cessation, provide accurate information about tobacco ingredients and the consequences of tobacco use. The research surrounding tobacco ingredients and the consequences of using tobacco helped to build the science base for research. The Food and Drug Administration announced setting new standards for NNN (N-nitrosonornicotine) in the smokeless tobacco industry by lowering nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes to non-addictive levels through achievable product standards.
Dr. Chambers stated that KTRDC utilizes technology to sustain tobacco production in Kentucky by developing varieties and production practices to meet FDA standards. The KTRDC has a world-class academic-based tobacco analytical research center for tobacco and smoke analysis, which includes fescue and THC and other compounds for industrial hemp.
Dr. Chambers introduced Anne Jack, KTRDC, who is the coordinator of a program that is looking at the proposed FDA standards for reducing NNN, smokeless tobacco products and nicotine. By screening tobacco seeds, it is possible to lower NNN levels in tobacco products. KTRDC recently filed a patent on a new strategy for regulating nicotine and also a patent for lowering NNN production in tobacco plants.
Dr. Chambers stated that Dr. Wagner is an expert on gum chemistry which could potentially produce next generation tobacco products. Samples of reference materials are sent around the world to be analyzed and the data is returned to KTRDC.
Dr. Chambers said that KTRDC employs 30 full-time and part-time scientists and staff. It is a unique entity recognized worldwide for its integrated expertise in tobacco breeding, analytics, genetics, biotechnology, and field testing.
In response to Senator Parrett, Dr. Chambers and Ms. Jack said fescue samples from only Kentucky were tested for endophyte and toxicity.
In response to Senator West, Ms. Jack said that seed screening does not affect the nicotine levels. For dark-fired tobacco and moist snuff, it is almost impossible to meet the FDA recommendation. For other tobacco, it might be possible to meet the reduced levels. The FDA proposed standards are merely a proposal. If the proposed standards are approved then there will be no quick way to meet those standards. Dark-fired tobacco focuses on the firing process and moist snuff products focus on the manufacturing process.
In response to Chairman Hornback, Ms. Jack said it was unlikely to find other alternatives for reducing the NNN in dark-cured tobacco.
In response to Representative King, Dr. Chambers said that KTRDC continues to work on new pharmaceutical applications using tobacco and other plants.
Dr. George Wagner stated that using the Artemisia plant to generate a malaria vaccine is very exciting since it looks like tobacco may be used to make the vaccine.
In response to Senator Westerfield, Dr. Chambers said the comment period is closed. Ms. Jack said that President Trump’s administration has not taken a stance on the proposed regulations.
Co-Chairman Health stated that Congressman Comer had filed an amendment pertaining to the FDA’s proposed NNN tobacco rule on HR 3354. The amendment would prohibit funds from being used to finalize, implement, administer or enforce the FDA’s proposed rule.
In response to Representative Tipton, Dr. Chambers said that he had no medical expertise regarding cannabis. Ms. Jack stated that any medical research facility should be able to answer questions about pharmaceutical use of cannabis.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.