Ryan Quarles

J. Tyler Franklin

During a year-end interview, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said he’s focused on his second term in office and not currently planning a run for governor in 2023.

Quarles won reelection by a wide margin in November and has been mentioned as a potential challenger to newly inaugurated Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

But Quarles says he’s focused on being commissioner, which he called “the highest office in Kentucky.”


Ryan Quarles' Facebook

Kentucky's Republican Commissioner of Agriculture has largely flown under the radar while addressing many pressing issues facing the state's farms. He's banking his track record will carry him to a second term in office following the Nov. 5 election

Recently, the ninth-generation Kentucky farmer has led effort to alleviate the effects of a trade war that has farmers caught in the middle, as well as the legalization of hemp.


Courtesy of Robert Conway

On November 5, Kentuckians will head to the polls to elect constitutional positions like Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State.

Eigth-generation Kentucky farmer Robert Conway is running for Agriculture Commissioner

Focal points for the Scott County Democrat include saving the state's family farms, and encouraging more young people to pick up the trade.


Adrian Cable/WikimediaCommons

Kentucky is one of 12 states that holds elections for agriculture commissioner, which facilitates and promotes the state’s $5.9 billion agriculture industry that has more than 75,000 workers.

Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture in many ways is a marketer and advocate for the various agricultural organizations and associations in the state. The department also helps farmers and businesses grow various crops, monitors the needs and health of agriculture in the state, regulates hemp growing licenses and even inspects 60,000 gas pumps across the state.

Kyeland Jackson

Kentucky officials are celebrating the results of a program that increases access to fresh produce for low-income families. 

The “Double Dollars” program doubles the buying power when people use benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at some farmers markets and food sale locations. Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said other states have come to Kentucky to learn about the program.

 


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.

Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner says a legal opinion from the USDA provides much needed certainty for the hemp industry. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says hemp can be transported across state lines, even through states that haven’t passed laws allowing the crop’s production.  The legal opinion notes the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from a federal list of controlled substances. 

Nicole Erwin I Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentucky’s incumbent Commissioner of Agriculture has won the Republican nomination in his bid for reelection.

Ryan Quarles was the first winner to be called in Tuesday night’s primary election. Quarles received than 82 percent of the votes with 92 percent of precincts reporting. He defeated challenger Bill Polyniak, a cannabis farmer from Fayette County.

Quarles has supported the rise of hemp as an agricultural product in Kentucky, and his administration led a statewide initiative to study and address hunger. He has also worked to expand Kentucky’s international export market, by resuming live equine exports to China.

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.


Andrew Marsh/Conn Center.

Sales of Kentucky hemp products were up big in 2018, even before the federal government legalized the crop in last year’s farm bill.

According to Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, hemp sales rose $41 million in 2018, more than three and a half times higher than the year before.

In a release, Quarles said the amount that processors paid to Kentucky farmers more than doubled, rising from $7.5 million in 2017 to nearly $18 million last year.

Andrew Marsh/Conn Center.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles immediately applied for federal approval of Kentucky’s hemp program after the 2018 farm bill was signed into law Thursday afternoon, effectively legalizing the crop.

The farm bill removes hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, allowing farmers to grow the plant and apply for crop insurance.

Quarles issued a statement saying that he hoped the regulations would be approved swiftly.

Nicole Erwin | Ohio Valley ReSource

Craft beer fans in Kentucky have some special treats coming their way this week.

Sixteen Kentucky craft breweries are releasing new beers made with Kentucky Proud products on Friday.

The new products are the result of a partnership between the state’s Agriculture Department and the Kentucky Guild of Brewers.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says the commonwealth’s 60 craft breweries and microbreweries have an annual economic impact of $657 million.

Ryan Quarles Facebook page

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles announced on Facebook new business prospects with Israel on Monday, following the controversial opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Quarles posted that he was proud to discuss ‘agriculture partnerships with ISRAEL.’ He wrote that Kentucky already has significant Israeli investments in greenhouses and precision irrigation. The department hopes to expand business with industrial hemp and bourbon. Quarles is a member of President Donald Trump's Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says Kentucky farmers continue to gain more access to major grocery chains. 

Quarles says the Kentucky Proud program is expanding to help the state’s beef producers. 

A plan is underway to process beef cattle in Wolfe County, and distribute the ground beef to more than 80 Kroger stores in Kentucky.

Creative Commons

A level one drought issued for Kentucky last month has been lifted due to the recent rainfall. Drought and high winds contributed to wildfires in eastern Kentucky that burned about 50,000 acres.

The state Division of Forestry expects the timely precipitation and cooler temperatures will significantly reduce the risk of wildfires. Farmers are still expected to feel the effects of the drought for months to come.