Agriculture

Liam Niemeyer

West Liberty University Professor Zachary Loughman has dedicated his professional life to crustaceans – specifically freshwater crayfish. He dips his hand into one of the water tanks at his laboratory near Wheeling, West Virginia, to pick up a teal crayfish the size of a dollar bill.

“See the little guy dropping down? We caught mom and she had 300 babies. So we just let them grow,” Loughman said. “We’ve had our feet – my lab – in over 3000 rivers in the past ten years.”


Evan Heichelbech

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in Louisville Tuesday to talk to hemp farmers and providers about the industry’s challenges.

All three officials echoed similar sentiments of the challenges hemp farmers and providers are experiencing, despite being just six months removed from the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the crop.

At hemp processor Commonwealth Extracts warehouse on Tuesday, McConnell said Kentucky is “in the red zone” with hemp.

Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is sponsoring legislation that would reduce paperwork and streamline worker visa programs used by U.S. farmers. The Bowling Green Republican said the measure would be a major help for the commonwealth’s agriculture industry.

The bill would make it easier for farmers to apply for H-2A and H-2B visas used to employ temporary workers from other countries. Those work permits are often used in the equine, livestock, agriculture, and dairy industries.


Liam Niemeyer

The U. S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday details of a second round of aid totaling $16 billion for farmers affected by the trade war with China. But some Ohio Valley farmers worry about the ongoing consequences of these payments and tariffs.

As with the first round of tariff relief offered last year, farmers will again be paid extra for the soybeans, pork and dairy they produce. But instead of paying farmers a flat rate, USDA officials said these payments will depend on the assessed “trade damage” and the commodity production of each county.


A Growing Recovery: Food Service And Farming Jobs Provide A Path Out Of Addiction

May 20, 2019
Brittany Patterson

It’s lunch hour, and Cafe Appalachia is bustling.

Located in South Charleston, West Virginia, the former church turned restaurant has a funky, yet calming vibe. Twinkle lights and mismatched dining room sets dot the space. For $8 to $10 a plate, diners can enjoy a locally-sourced meal. The menu today is apple sage pork tips, spiralized zucchini (or “zoodles”), roasted broccoli, and a salad of spinach grown just a few miles away.

Autumn McCraw helped prepare today’s meal. The 35-year-old Charleston resident sports a maroon apron and greets every customer with a smile. Her days here typically start around 8 a.m.


Rhonda J. Miller

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its five-year census on April 11, and for the first time it includes a category for military veterans who are farming. The census shows that Kentucky currently has about 13,000 farmers with miltary service. 

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture recognized the value of this combination in 2013 with the creation of a program called Homegrown By Heroes. It's a marketing initiative to spotlight and support agricultural producers with military experience.


Kentucky Farm Bureau

The new U.S. Department of Agriculture census released April 11 shows the number of young farmers in Kentucky is increasing. 

The USDA Census of Agriculture is done every five years and the newly-released data on crops, acreage and demographics is for the 2017 year. The previous census used as a five-year comparison is based on 2012 data.

David Knopf is regional director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service based in Louisville. He said the census shows a significant increase in the number of young farmers in Kentucky. 


KY Grains

The new U.S. Department of Agriculture census released April 11 shows mid-sized farms in Kentucky farms are on the decline.

The new USDA Census of Agriculture is based on data collected from farms across the country for the year 2017. That census is done very five years, so the 2017 state-by-state data is compared to previous statistics from 2012.

David Knopf is regional director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service based Louisville. He said the new census confirms a trend in Kentucky that the number of  small and large farms are increasing, while those in the middle are disappearing. 


flickr

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its five-year census of farms across the nation on April 11 with data on acreage, economic value and demographics about decision-makers. 

The new USDA Census of Agriculture shows that farming is a $5.7 billion industry in Kentucky. That’s up from $5.1 billion compared to five years earlier.

Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles said the new census shows that farming is vibrant in the state, with the number of producers at 124,000, an increase of nearly 10 percent over five years.

Warren County Agriculture/Shutterstock

The U.S. Department of Agriculture 2018 crop report for Kentucky shows both  Henderson and Christian counties among the state’s leaders in production. 

Henderson County led the state in soybean production with 5.4 million bushels grown on 102,400 acres.

Christian County was the leader in corn production with 12.8 million bushels grown on 72,500 acres.

But Ohio County came in strong by getting the most yield per acre for both those crops.

Ohio County farmers harvested 59.6 bushels of soybeans per acre last year, compared to Henderson County’s 53 bushels per acre.

Sydney Boles

When Seth Long first began experimenting with maple syrup production, he tapped hollow pegs called spiles into individual trees, collected drips of sap in milk jugs, and carried each gallon down the steep mountainside on foot.

Now, Long rides an open-air buggy up muddy switchbacks to a 500-gallon collection tank from which translucent blue tubes branch out like arteries. There, gallons of sap accumulate from Long’s 270 maple trees before they flow through those tubes 900 feet down the mountain to Long’s grant-funded sugar shack. A shared-use reverse osmosis machine removes most of the water before the sap enters the evaporator to boil for hours until it turns into thick, dark maple syrup.


Creative Commons

Kentucky farmers have until April 5 to sign up with the Farms to Food Banks program if they want to sell produce that’s not considered ‘picture perfect’ enough for grocery stores.

The Farms to Food Banks program is increasing its statewide outreach to farmers as planting season gets underway.

Last year, 349 farmers from 64 counties in Kentucky sold surplus portions of their crops, as well as slightly imperfect produce, often called ‘ugly’ produce, to the Farms to Food Banks program.

'Ugly' produce may vary in size, shape or appearance from what grocery stores prefer, but the imperfect produce purchased for the program is equally fresh and nutritious. 


Liam Niemeyer

Western Kentucky Farmer Barry Alexander doesn’t have an answer on when the Trump administration will reach a trade deal with China, now a year into tariffs that have hamstrung some Ohio Valley industries.

Alexander is optimistic these continued negotiations will be worth it, but his plan in the meantime lies in massive, silver storage bins on Cundiff Farms, the 13,000-acre operation he manages.

He pulls a lever, and out tumbles a downpour of pale yellow soybeans.


Nicole Erwin I Ohio Valley ReSource

Western Kentucky Soybean Farmer Jed Clark, like many Ohio Valley farmers, is in a tighter financial situation because tariffs from the trade war and market forces have depressed crop prices.

“We’ve had a collapse in our grain markets,” Clark said. “We’re seeing some of the lowest commodity prices for wheat we’ve seen in a long time.”

The Trump administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2020 would cut U.S. Department of Agriculture funding by 15 percent. That includes a proposal to reduce the amount of subsidies farmers receive to afford crop insurance, which can cost thousands of dollars depending on the crop. Farmers would have to pay for 52 percent of their crop insurance instead of 38 percent.


United Soybean Board

Kentucky farmers will soon be getting crops reports they use for market information and to make decisions about spring planting. The U.S. Department of Agriculture office in Kentucky that does those reports was closed during the government shutdown, but now - it’s open.

David Knopf is regional director for the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, based in Louisville. He said crop reports that were due out on Jan. 11 are now scheduled to be published Feb. 8.

Knopf said the report on corn, soybeans and wheat that’s in storage is especially valuable to Kentucky farmers. 

Pages