Call to Order and Roll Call
The5th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Friday, October 6, 2017, at 10:00 AM, at the E.S. Good Barn, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. 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., Stan Humphries, Dennis Parrett, Damon Thayer, Stephen West, and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives Derrick Graham, Mark Hart, Angie Hatton, James Kay, Kim King, Suzanne Miles, Sannie Overly, Jason Petrie, Phillip Pratt, Brandon Reed, Rob Rothenburger, Dean Schamore, Wilson Stone, Walker Thomas, James Tipton, Tommy Turner, and Susan Westrom.
Guests: Dr. Nancy Cox, Dean, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Kentucky; Drew Graham, Assistant Dean, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Fabian Leon, Agricultural Biotechnology student, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Dr. Chad Lee, Director, Grain and Forage Center of Excellence, University of Kentucky; Dr. Orlando Chambers, Director, Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development, University of Kentucky and Dr. Ling Yuan, Research Director, Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center, University of Kentucky.
The September 13, 2017 minutes were approved, by voice vote without objection, upon motion made by Senator Westerfield and seconded by Representative Reed.
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Dr. Nancy Cox, Dean, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, welcomed members to the 12th year of meeting during UK Roundup. Dr. Cox said that there had been a 16 percent increase in freshmen enrollment/admissions, and there are now more prospective students looking at the College than at any point in the last ten years, looking at the college.
Dr. Cox introduced Fabian Leon, agricultural biotechnology student. Mr. Leon plans to obtain his Masters and Ph.D. in the plant and soil sciences discipline. Mr. Leon worked at the International Potato Center in Peru as an intern and as a Wallace Carver fellow for the USDA National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment. Dr. Cox noted that Mr. Leon has also been working in tobacco research as well.
Mr. Leon is a third year student in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFÉ). The CAFÉ network has faculty and students who have helped him become a scientific researcher, and he has had the privilege of being a cooperative extension intern and worked for a tobacco specialist. Mr. Leon has published as a co-author of a scientific paper and has traveled across the United States attending professional development conferences and competing in national contests with Kentucky’s Chapter of MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, National Resources and Related Sciences). Kentucky’s Chapter of MANRRS has won the award for best chapter for the last five years. MANRRS is a national society that is centered on academic and professional leadership, and currently serves as the national undergraduate parliamentarian.
In response to Representative Tipton, Mr. Leon explained that his research goal was to determine the X protein interactions to complete localization map of the Sanguinolenta strain of potato yellow dwarf virus. “Genetically engineered” is a broad term that can be used when researching DNA of an organism.
Grain and Forage Center of Excellence
Dr. Chad Lee, Director, UK Grain and Forage Center of Excellence (Center) explained that the concept of the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence began as a conversation about how the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment could attract talented people to study relevant questions on production agriculture. The Kentucky Agricultural Development Board awarded UK a $15 million grant and UK is charged with matching another $15 million over five years. The University of Kentucky is in the final phases of architectural drawings and is about to launch the bidding process. The scheduled date for the official groundbreaking ceremony is March 15, 2018. There are several partners helping with fundraising and the Center received contributions from Kentucky’s commodity organizations. UK has raised approximately $5 million, between research dollars and donations.
In response to Representative Rothenburger, Dr. Lee said that part of the fundraising is to help with endowments as well as research grant money to sustain the financial sustainability of the center.
Dr. Lee stated that because of the investments being made in the Center, the Center has attracted new faculty, graduate and undergraduate student interns. The center has the best applied plant pathologists in the country to work on corn, soybeans and wheat research.
Technology in Tobacco Research and Regulation
Dr. Orlando Chambers, Director, Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center (KTRDC) said that over the last few years the facilities and research equipment have been upgraded with some funding from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Tobacco is still a very important crop to Kentucky with cash receipts of $285 million. There is a next generation of tobacco products, such as heat-not-burn and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), that are changing the market and regulations. The FDA will continue to propose new standards and levels of certain constituents in tobacco products. Changing markets and new regulations guide research at the KTRDC to address issues and help growers to be sustainable.
Dr. Chambers said that the tour of the KTRDC facility would include discussion on the tobacco breeding program, disease screening and the use of technological programs to develop new varieties of tobacco. The world-class academic analytical lab provides production research such as measuring constituents in tobacco products and highlights the tobacco reference products. The final discussion would be on research of new crop opportunities including industrial hemp, Artemisia, and tobacco-derived industrial materials.
In response to Chairman Hornback, Dr. Ling Yuan said that research is looking at ways to prevent hemp seed shattering.
In response to Representative Stone, Dr. Chambers said that KTRDC is continuing with tobacco production research.
Upon conclusion of the tour, the meeting was adjourned.