A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Overhyped hemp? Amid major price drop, and a big bankruptcy, Kentucky hemp farmers feel burned

By Liam Niemeyer Ohio Valley Resource John Fuller is waiting for another farmer he’s never met before to talk about a situation he never imagined he would be in. It’s an overcast January day on his farm in west Kentucky, where he grew 18 acres of hemp last year, investing more than $250,000 of his own cash. He’s one of nearly 1,000 licensed hemp growers in 2019 who helped grow Kentucky’s biggest...

USDA proposes most cattle have electronic ear tags by 2023; switch to RFID tags strengthens ADT system

In an ongoing effort to increase animal traceability, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking public comment on a proposal that would only recognize radio frequency identification (RFID) devices as the official ear tag for interstate movement of cattle and bison that are required to be identified by animal disease traceability rules. Public comments will be accepted through Oct. 5 at the following...

Quarles sets Sept. 20-26 as Farm Safety and Health Week in Kentucky; theme is ‘Every Farmer Counts’

Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles has set Sept. 20-26 as Farm Safety and Health Week in Kentucky to encourage farmers and farm workers to put safety first at all times. The theme for this year’s safety week is “Every Farmer Counts.” “Farmers face a variety of risks in the course of their work, from machinery accidents, chemical exposure, unruly livestock, grain bin entrapment, severe...

Ryan Quarles elected president of National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles was elected president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) at its annual meeting. “I am grateful to my counterparts in the other states for selecting me to serve as president of NASDA,” Quarles said. “2020 has been a challenging year for all industries, but especially our agriculture sector. In this role, I...

Quarles warns against use of unsolicited seed packets from China — report immediately

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is sounding the alarm about reports of foreign seeds being shipped unsolicited to Kentuckians across the Commonwealth. Kentucky is the fourth state known to receive suspicious packages of seeds that appear to have originated from China. “It is incredibly important that if you receive a package of foreign or unfamiliar seeds, you report it to the Kentucky Department...

Circuit Judge enters temporary restraining order against Beshear administration in KDA lawsuit

Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles announced Thursday that a Scott County Circuit Judge entered a temporary restraining order against the administration of Gov. Andy Beshear in a lawsuit brought by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Evans Orchard and Cider Mill, LLC. The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality and legality of Beshear’s use of executive power during the coronavirus...

Quarles celebrates hunger heroes in Letcher County; checks status of Kentucky Hunger Initiative program

Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles visited Community Agricultural Nutritional Enterprises (CANE) Kitchen and the Cowan Community Center in Letcher County on Monday to check in on the status of a Kentucky Hunger Initiative program feeding children with Kentucky-grown fruits and vegetables and to mark the distribution of the 100,000th meal kit in the community. “Childhood hunger in Kentucky...

UK equine specialist reminds horse owners to begin planning for future hay needs right now

By Aimee Nielson University of Kentucky In the midst of a bountiful first cutting of hay, a University of Kentucky equine specialist reminds horse owners to start thinking about how much hay they need in the future. “The photos I’m seeing look great,” said Bob Coleman, extension equine specialist with the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “There is some good-looking hay out there,...

Quarles, UK encourage Kentuckians to grow victory gardens; campaign to reach every Kentucky county

Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles has announced a new Kentucky Department of Agriculture partnership with the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service and Kentucky’s Nutrition Education Program to encourage Kentuckians to get in touch with their agricultural roots during the coronavirus pandemic. “Since starting the Kentucky Hunger Initiative years ago, the Kentucky Department...

KDA licenses hemp growers for 2020 season; economic numbers show hemp industry maturing

Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles has announced the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has licensed 960 hemp growers to grow up to 32,000 acres and 150 hemp processors and handlers for 2020. The KDA has also licensed 4.6 million square feet of greenhouse space for production. “Hemp continues to draw much attention, and these new numbers reflect an industry that is still maturing,”...

Quarles secures donations from CoBank, Farm Credit Mid-America to expand mobile meals distribution

Farm Credit Mid-America (FCMA) and CoBank are funding a significant expansion of mobile meals distribution in high need areas to hungry Kentucky schoolchildren during the coronavirus pandemic, Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles announced. The donation is a part of the Kentucky Hunger Initiative launched by the commissioner in 2016. The donation provides enrichment grants to the Kentucky Kids...

KDA, KAM to hold fourth annual LAND forums; first two sessions to be digital versions due to pandemic

Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles will lead eight forums across the Commonwealth to strengthen ties between agriculture and manufacturing. The first two forums will occur online in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The fourth annual series of LAND (Linking Agriculture for Networking and Development) forums will open June 18 and continue through Sept. 21. The forums are sponsored by the Kentucky...

KDA secures USDA grant to purchase 56 freezers, refrigerators for Kentucky food pantries

Fifty-two local food pantries across Kentucky will soon have more space to store food items, thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant secured by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. “Thanks to the hard work of our Division of Food Distribution and Kevin Peach applying for the grant, we were able to fund the purchase of 56 appliances to keep food fresh during the pandemic,” Commissioner...

Quarles urges Kentuckians to grill ‘locally-sourced burgers’ in honor of Beef Month in May

With more than a million beef cows, Kentucky boasts largest beef cattle inventory east of the Mississippi River and the eighth-most in the nation as the state celebrates Beef Month. “With the weather warming, I urge Kentuckians to join me by throwing some locally-sourced burgers on their backyard grills in honor of May as beef month,” Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles said. “Beef is not...

Feeding Kentucky purchases 10,080 pounds of Purnell’s ‘Old Folks’ sausage to aid hunger initiative

Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles has announced Feeding Kentucky has purchased 10,080 pounds of Kentucky Proud pork sausage from the iconic Purnell’s “Old Folks” headquartered in Simpsonville. The purchase is funded by a historic donation from Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company to Feeding Kentucky as part of the Kentucky Hunger Initiative last month. “When we started the...

KDA Hunger Initiative results in donation of 560,000 eggs from Cal-Maine Foods to Feeding Kentucky

Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles has announced the donation of more than 560,000 eggs from Cal-Maine Foods to Feeding Kentucky as part of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Hunger Initiative. “Kentucky agriculture continues to step up to the plate to fight hunger during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Quarles. “Thanks to Cal-Maine Foods, more vulnerable Kentuckians have access...

Kentucky State Board Of Agriculture selects Dr. Katie Flynn as deputy state veterinarian at KDA

The Kentucky State Board of Agriculture (SBOA) has unanimously approved Dr. Katie Flynn to serve as the new deputy state veterinarian at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA). Flynn currently serves as the Veterinary Specialist for the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Animal Health Branch and brings 18 years of regulatory animal health experience to the KDA. “I appreciate...

KDA to support farmers’ markets as essential business with Kentucky Proud ad campaign

After holding a digital roundtable with Kentucky farmers’ markets managers, Commissioner Ryan Quarles has announced a new Kentucky Proud social media advertising campaign that will support farmers’ markets during the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s the time of year when Kentucky’s farmers’ markets are opening up around the state,” said Quarles. “After speaking with many farmers’ markets...

Winners of ‘Kentucky Farmers: Ready, Set, Grow’ KDA Poster and Essay Contest announced

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles announced the winners of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s annual Poster and Essay Contest. The theme of the 2020 contest was “Kentucky Farmers: Ready, Set, Grow.” “Congratulations to each of these winners, who so vividly depicted in art and writing how our farmers all across the state are helping to grow the safest, most abundant food...

Feeding Kentucky purchases more than 13,000 Kentucky ground beef hamburgers to aid initiative

Feeding Kentucky has purchased 3,408 pounds of Kentucky ground beef with funds from Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance’s historic half-million dollar donation as part of Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles’ Kentucky Hunger Initiative. The purchase translates into more than 13,000 4-ounce hamburger patties that will go to vulnerable Kentuckians during the coronavirus pandemic. “Hunger doesn’t...