Farms to Food Banks Paying Kentucky Farmers More for Produce

May 13, 2016

Jerry and Carolyn Barber are Graves County, Kentucky farmers who participate in the Farms to Food Banks program.
Credit Kentucky Association of Food Banks

A Kentucky program that increases the amount of produce in food banks is paying farmers more for their crops.

The Kentucky Farms to Food Banks program wants to make sure farmers can cover the cost of growing, picking and getting their produce to food banks.

So the program is compensating farmers based on wholesale produce prices in Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis, instead of on Kentucky markets.

Tamara Sandberg is executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. She says farmers will likely be paid 46 cents a pound for tomatoes this season, up from 30 cents a pound last year.

“Another real popular crop has been yellow squash. Last year we paid an average of 25 cents a pound and this year it will be closer to 39 cents a pound,” says Sandberg.  “Sweet corn went up a lot, too, yes. Last year it was 17 cents a pound and this year we should be paying closer to 43 cents a pound.”

The Farm to Food Banks programs buys produce that farmers can’t sell to grocery stores because it has minor blemishes. The program increases the amount of produce available for Kentucky food banks. 

Even though it’s early in the season, Farms to Food Banks has already begun expanding this year.  Last year 302 farmers took part in the program, and they are likely to continue in 2016. So far this year, 26 new farmers have signed on.

Sandberg says farmers from 58 counties are taking part in the program. 

“That includes four farmers from Warren County, two from Barren County, six from Daviess County, 13 from Hart County and 11 from Pulaski County,” says Sandberg. “Our goal is to reach as many farmers in as many counties across Kentucky as possible.”         

The Farms to Food Banks program gives farmers the opportunity sell produce that may not match the perfect appearance required by grocery stores, but is a nutritious and important part of helping food banks meet the needs of residents across the Bluegrass State.