KFB President's Column: Better and Stronger than BeforePosted on Apr 6, 2021
As we prepare for spring planting and another growing season on the farm, it goes without saying that most of us will be reflecting on the past year and the dark winter we have come through.
I can honestly say I never expected in my lifetime to experience the issues we have seen over the past year – from a complete shutdown of most of the country to the terrible losses so many of us have incurred.
And, I must admit I have a tendency to knock on wood when speaking of getting back to normal. That may look very different for some time to come.
But I can also say, as an organization, we have come through this better and stronger than before. As an agricultural industry, we never stopped farming and continued through what turned out to be a record producing year.
As communities, we reached out to friends, family, and neighbors to offer our help in ways we had never done before.
We not only dredged our way through a pandemic but we also found ourselves in the midst of some of the worst winter weather and flooding we had seen in years.
But, Kentucky Farm Bureau stepped up, as we always do, to help those communities and our members during the time they needed us the most, and I couldn’t be prouder of our staff and volunteer members who reached out to help those in need.
We never stopped our advocacy efforts either. During this session of the General Assembly, we counted many successes for agriculture and rural Kentucky, including HB 320 which saw a $250 million appropriation for the Broadband Deployment Fund. These will be matching funds which means there is the potential to turn that $250 million into a half-a-billion-dollar investment.
As we have seen, especially over the past year, the need for adequate broadband service throughout the state is critical on so many levels, from education to telehealth services to rural economic development. This funding will be instrumental in getting that service to underserved and unserved areas across the Commonwealth.
This isn’t just a win for KFB or our members, it is a win for all Kentuckians who are in need of broadband service.
Last year we adopted policy that supported moving the administration of the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund to the Department of Agriculture. Once again, our legislators stepped up and saw this piece of legislation, SB 3, through to fruition.
Time and time again we see this process by which KFB was founded succeed from the grassroots, to state policy, to the halls of the Capitol, and into statute. And I thank the members of the General Assembly for their efforts in making all this happen.
As we begin a new season, we have been blessed with many accomplishments and many new opportunities, as an organization and as a collective community throughout the state, despite such a bleak year.
May we never forget the ones we’ve lost. May we continue with the many acts of kindness we have seen. And may we never doubt that at the end of this dark winter, we will be renewed with the bright promises of a productive spring season as we plant, and we grow, and we harvest once again.
Mark Haney, President
Kentucky Farm Bureau