Kentucky Department of Agriculture

Evans Orchard and Cider Mill FB

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and a central Kentucky agri-tourism business are going to court over Governor Andy Beshear's executive action related to COVID-19.

A lawsuit filed in Scott Circuit Court seeks to declare some of Beshear’s executive orders in violation of Kentucky’s Administrative Practices Act that allows input from citizens and the General Assembly when forming public policy.

“With more than 100 days in this pandemic, over 100 days of executive orders with no end in sight, Kentuckians deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard with the rule-making process," Quarles stated in a Monday news conference. "With businesses like Evans Orchard, they want to comply, but they want to do it safely.”

Glynis Board

Inside Winkin’ Sun Hemp Company in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia, store owner Doug Flight tries to position himself in front of a camera crew.

His experience with growing and selling hemp spans years. But memorizing lines for what he says could be the first hemp TV commercial in the state is another issue.

“I know, I grow,” Flight says to the camera. “Is that it?” Flight asked.


Bec Feldhaus Adams

Western Kentucky farmer Judy Wilson says her family is a bit of a sundry bunch.

“We love the farm, but we also love all the nature,” she said.

Wilson is driving down a back-country road that divides two fields, to the left is her soybean crop and to the right is 102 acres that she has placed in the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program, something her husband always wanted.


Grayson County schools

Chefs are working with schools in eight Kentucky counties to increase the use of fresh food from local farmers. The goal is to create healthier and more appealing meals for students. 

The project is called the Chefs in Schools Collaborative.

Grayson County’s six schools have a chef working with food service staff during the month of March.

School district food service director Kristy Hodges says chef Chris Byrd has helped create lower sodium and less processed food with more natural seasonings.  

“In the past we had used a prepackaged mix for our taco seasoning and he’s helped some of the ladies in the schools come up with their own seasoning recipes,” says Hodges. “He’s doing the same thing with the chili recipe. We used to order spaghetti sauce.”

The students are confirming that the healthier recipes are proving the value of the visiting chef.

Kentucky Agriculture Department officials say they're seeing progress toward ending a stalemate with the federal government over a shipment of hemp seeds meant for test projects.

Attorneys discussed the case Friday during a conference presided over by U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II. Discussions didn't resolve the department's lawsuit seeking release of the seeds, and another conference is set for Wednesday.

Customs officials are holding up 250 pounds of seeds from Italy.
 
Agriculture Department official Holly Harris VonLuehrte said the agency plans to apply for an import permit to obtain the seeds.

Eight projects are planned in Kentucky, and six universities are helping with research.

Unresolved is whether private farmers can participate in the projects.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Schecter says the government wants to be a partner, not an adversary.

Kentucky Department of Agriculture

An auction that sold off items from a failed fuel and pesticide testing lab run by the Agriculture Department has netted the state $1.65 million dollars.  Agriculture Commissioner James Comer presented a check in that amount to Treasurer Todd Hollenbach on Friday.  The money will go into the state’s general fund.

“Taxpayer dollars are a sacred trust, and my administration is dedicated to spending them wisely and giving back where appropriate,” said Comer.

The state Personnel Board has voted to investigate multiple merit system and employee abuses that allegedly took place in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The alleged abuses took place under then Commissioner Richie Farmer, and were detailed earlier this year in a scathing audit of the department.