Amy Lindsey | GC News-GazetteDr. Michael Langemeier is a Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University.

Amy Lindsey | GC News-Gazette

Dr. Michael Langemeier is a Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University.

By Amy Lindsey

alindsey@gcnewsgazette

The 2018 "Ready to Grow" Agricultural Summit was held Wednesday, March 14 at the Centre on Main from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Summit was sponsored by The Cecilian Bank and Kurtz Auction and Realty.

First to speak at the Summit was Brian

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Summit

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Lacefield, who is the State Executive Director of the Kentucky USDA Farm Service Agency.

Lacefield discussed how the USDA provides loans to farmers and ranchers in order to start or grow their farms.

He said Kentucky ranks 27th in the United States for farm sales at $5,067,334,000, with 55 percent being in livestock and 45 percent in crops. He said one in five jobs in Kentucky are Agriculture related jobs: service, banking, sales, processing, etc.

Lacefield explained that the Farm Service Agency is available in 17 counties including Grayson County.

He then said that the number of Kentucky farmers and the average farmland acreage have decreased since 1909 and the average farmer age has increased. He said he wants to make sure people are able to stay in the agriculture business.

He said farmers now are being called on to "do more for less."

The next speaker was Warren Beeler, who had a hog farm in Caneyville for several years before becoming the Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy.

According to Beeler, he is very dedicated to the advancement of the Kentucky Agriculture industry.

His speech was about how he is helping to keep the money from tobacco sales in Kentucky, in the Ag industry. He said half of the tobacco revenue goes to Kentucky's Ag industry, $542,000,000, and the other half goes to state health care.

He also talked about the poultry industry. He said, "Chicken barns are helping young farmers get started; it's low risk contract farming."

Beeler talked about the dairy industry and how it has been changing. He said there are robotic milkers, where cows go in to get milked by themselves and they keep track of who has been milked and how often.

He said of the 2.2 billion pounds of milk in Kentucky, 40 percent goes out of state. Beeler suggested making cheese and butter out of the milk to increase sales in the state.

Beeler also said the beef cow industry is changing. They want farmers to be able to get more from their beef cattle.

Beeler said they have been composting manure, which used to be thought of as a waste product and now is thought of as something useful that can be sold.

He said his office is chemical testing water run-off sites, lakes, rivers, and streams to make sure the farms are not causing water pollution and not losing nutrients due to erosion. He said there was more human waste found in the water than anything else.

Beeler said greenhouses are a good thing to invest in now because produce can be grown and sold year-round.

According to Beeler, the tobacco revenue needs to help Kentucky agriculture take the next step.

Ryan Quarles was the third speaker. He is the Kentucky State Agriculture Commissioner.

Quarles said tobacco farms were everywhere in the 90s and now you hardly see any. He said we still get $350 million in tobacco revenue each year in which half is set aside for agriculture in Kentucky.

He said, "Despite our small farm size, we focus on quality."

Quarles said there are 76,000 farms in Kentucky and they are small businesses.

He said, "Of Kentucky's $190 billion economy, a quarter of it comes from agriculture."

Quarles said there are four large scale greenhouses under construction right now.

He also said the no till farm was invented in Kentucky and it has a global impact preventing soil erosion and preserving nutrients in the soil. Quarles said innovations from Kentucky helped to stop the dust bowl.

Quarles said a tobacco plant in Owensboro developed a vaccine that helped with Ebola.

According to Quarles, the biggest problem agriculture faces is lack of education about agriculture amongst the public.

He said, "16.4 million misinformed people believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows and white milk comes from white cows, and 40 percent of children don't know that cheese is dairy."

According to Quarles, Kentucky's cattle were sold for beef and shipped out of state, now Kentucky beef can be found at Kroger Supermarkets in Kentucky. Quarles said if it sells well there, it will be distributed to other Kentucky grocery stores.

After Quarles spoke, Rita Tate was honored as an artist to farmers for financing. She has been with Farm Credit for 40 years. Joe Wright awarded her plaque and Chef Brandy will be going to Mrs. Tate's home to cook for her.

The final speaker of the day was Dr. Michael Langemeier, Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University.

He discussed the results of a survey given to farmers. The questions were based on farm growth, when to buy and sell equipment and the profitability of soybeans.

According to Langemeier, soybeans are currently the most profitable crop.

The speakers wanted to ask everyone to remember to thank a farmer and buy Kentucky beef.

Amy Lindsey | GC News-Gazette

Dr. Michael Langemeier is a Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University.

Amy Lindsey | GC News-Gazette

Brian Lacefield is the State Executive Director of the Kentucky USDA Farm Service Agency.

Amy Lindsey | GC News-Gazette

Warren Beeler had a hog farm in Caneyville for several years before becoming the Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy.

Amy Lindsey | GC News-Gazette

Ryan Quarles is the Kentucky State Agriculture Commissioner.

Amy Lindsey | GC News-Gazette

Rita Tate was honored as an artist to farmers for financing. She has been with Farm Credit for 40 years. Joe Wright awarded her plaque and Chef Brandy will be going to Mrs. Tate's home to cook for her.