KFB President Eddie Melton: Sustaining the Future of Kentucky Farms - Kentucky Farm Bureau

KFB President Eddie Melton: Sustaining the Future of Kentucky Farms

Posted on Apr 8, 2024
KFB President Eddie Melton

I’m very fortunate to have grown up on a family farm in Webster County. Our tradition, which began so many years ago, is alive and well today. With the farm being owned and operated by our family, it was a fairly easy process to take over when my time came.

We see many farms in Kentucky being passed down in much the same way from generation to generation.

That’s good in many cases, but it can still be complicated to transition farms even in the case of inheritance.

We also often hear of difficulties for those first-time farmers who don’t have access to land, and we continue to see valuable farmland being sold for non-agricultural use at prices that our farmers cannot make work.

With all that said, we’ve come to a crossroads where continued struggles in the transition process along with the ongoing loss of production farmland and family farms have to be addressed collaboratively to ensure the future of the farm.

By finding ways to transition current production farmland into the hands of new farmers, we can begin to slow the losses we have seen in the most recent agriculture census.

According to data contained in the last two ag censuses, which cover a total of 10 years, there has been a 10 percent drop in the number of Kentucky farms. In 2012, the census reported 77,064 farms in the Commonwealth. That number dwindled to 69,495 in 2022.

During that same period, there has been nearly a five percent decline in the number of farmed acres in Kentucky. While that doesn’t sound like a big percentage, when you look at the actual land area that is no longer being used for farming, it is a decrease of over 600,000 acres.

Perhaps the most telling of the census numbers, though, is total farm production costs have increased more than 28 percent over those same 10 years.

The good news is our farmers are the best producers in the world. We see increased yields of our crops regularly and have reached record farm cash receipts. And while the data before us can be daunting, one thing we can’t measure in numbers is the will of the human spirit.

Our farm families are so dedicated to their farming heritage. Enabling active and next generation farmers to carry on this historic tradition, which quite simply we all depend on, should be a priority for the entire agriculture industry, and frankly a priority for the protection of our food supply as a nation.

Kentucky Farm Bureau is announcing the creation of the Kentucky Farmland Transition Initiative (KFTI) which will help get us on a sustainable path to ensure our farmland remains in agricultural production.

There will be more information coming soon and continuously as we initiate this program.

We cannot accomplish the goal of getting more farmland in the hands of active farmers by ourselves. This work requires being willing to start these conversations and collaborate to achieve this goal. If we work together as a collective agriculture industry and bring decision-makers at all levels to the discussion table, we can make this and other efforts successful. Stay tuned!


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