Strategic plan for Kentucky ag is released

Posted on Mar 1, 2013
The Kentucky Agriculture Council (KAC) unveiled its five-year strategic plan for agriculture at a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda that included Governor Steve Beshear, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and the chairmen of the House and Senate Ag Committees. KFB Executive Vice President David S. Beck, who is on the KAC Board of Directors, was among a sizeable group of state agricultural officials on hand to see the plan presented to the state government leaders.

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Governor Beshear praised the plan and the KAC, commending the once-stagnant organization for a revitalization that has enabled it to “reclaim the mantle for agricultural planning.”

“This strategic plan is not just about improving our farms and helping our farmers; it’s about strengthening their place in our communities, improving quality of life and economic vitality across Kentucky,” Governor Beshear said in a news release. “This plan for Kentucky’s agriculture community is a strong and thoughtful document that, when implemented, will help secure a bright future for our farm families.”

KAC established a task force on the future of agriculture with representatives from its 80-plus member organizations. The group had three co-chairs: Keith Rogers, 4-H Foundation; Todd Clark, Council for Burley Tobacco; and Sharon Furches, Kentucky Women in Agriculture. Clark is immediate past president of Fayette County FB, Mrs. Furches is the current president of Calloway County FB and Rogers is a former president of Hardin County FB.

For more than a year, KAC’s task force met and held public forums to gather input from across the Commonwealth to guide the strategic plan. The 2013-2018 strategic plan is a follow-up to the 2007-2012 plan, which was presented to Governor. Beshear early in his first term. Many of the action items from the earlier plan have been accomplished.

Governor Beshear said the initial plan “told me that agriculture was reacting to change and, in fact, embracing that change. Over the past five years we’ve seen what we can do. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work again.”

Comer said he was especially encouraged by the plan’s recommendations for supporting new and young farmers and enhancing ag education.

“It’s so important that we focus on the future and the next generation,” Comer said. “There are so many opportunities for farmers in Kentucky. I look forward to working on our (KDA’s) part of the plan.”

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Paul Hornback concurred about the opportunities, crediting the Ag Development fund with fueling significant progress.“It’s amazing where we’ve come in the past 10 years,” said Hornback, a Shelby County farmer who served on KFB’s Board of Directors for many years. The progress, he added, proves that “farmers are willing to adapt.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McKee said he could be counted on to support the plan. He too cited the advances stemming from the ag development fund’s establishment in 2001.

“I know what we can do” when plans and resources are in place, he said.

 

The strategic plan includes seven core strategies with recommended actions to drive Kentucky’s progress.

 

Next Generation Farming

Make farming attractive and accessible to the next generation of both full-time and part-time aspirants, including those from diverse, non-traditional groups including retirees, women, minorities and urban dwellers.

New Markets Identification & Development

Increase on-farm incomes and strengthen economic vitality of rural areas through continuous identification and development of new market opportunities.

Regional Agricultural & Rural Community Development

Encourage region-specific agricultural development projects and initiatives through funding from the Agricultural Development Board.

 Agricultural Education

Promote, advocate for and expand the number of schools offering Agricultural Education programs by linking the contribution of Agricultural Education to “Unbridled Learning” College & Career Readiness For All, Kentucky’s new accountability model.

Consumer Education & Outreach

Engage with Kentucky consumers to increase their trust in the state’s Agricultural producers & products. Build consumer appreciation of the benefits of agriculture economically to the state as a whole and at the individual county level, and in terms of its role in ensuring the sustainability of Kentucky’s culture and a rural lifestyle.

Government Policies, Initiatives & Programs

Develop policies and funding streams designed to support the overall health (economic & environmental) of farms in Kentucky, as well as lead to increased net farm income. Ensure that all Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund (KADF) proceeds are invested with a purpose of improving the net farm income.

Policy-Maker Education & Outreach

Ensure all legislators and policy-makers at local, state and national levels understand the economic and community impact of Kentucky’s agricultural sector — “an implementation plan for the Strategic Plan.”

Tagged Post Topics Include: 4-H Foundation, Calloway County, Commissioner of Agriculture, Council for Burley Tobacco, David Beck, Fayette County, Governor, Hardin County, James Comer, KAC, Keith Rogers, Kentucky Women in Agriculture, Paul Hornback, Sharon Furches, Shelby County, Steve Beshear, Strategic Plan, Todd Clark, Tom McKee