Agriculture packs economic wallop in Ky.

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Column by Doug Shepherd, Hardin County Extension Service agent

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture recently released data on the economic impact of agriculture for the entire state. Although the data do not show the contribution of all businesses that directly serve the agriculture industry — finance sector, veterinary and transportation, for example — it does include all production agriculture, farm inputs and food processing/manufacturing.

The value of production agriculture in Kentucky is $6.1 billion; that includes cash receipts from commodities and revenue from additional sources of farm income such as custom work machinery hire and farm rental values. Cash receipts totaled nearly $5 billion including $2 billion in agricultural exports in 2011. The largest agricultural export originating from Kentucky is soybeans, followed by tobacco and corn.

When the agriculture industry is expanded to include food and fiber processing and manufacturing, the direct impact of agriculture increases by $24 billion and accounts for 143,000 workers. The total economic impact of agriculture is $46.3 billion and represents 263,000 jobs in Kentucky.

Other interesting data about the state’s agriculture industry:

  • Census data indicate Kentucky ranks fourth nationally(behind California, Texas, and Washington) in the number of farms hiring migrant workers.
  • U.S. agriculture exports are expected to reach a record $139.5 billion in the current fiscal year, despite concerns over global economic growth, exchange rates and a significant drop in corn exports.
  • Direct payments — which are expected to be eliminated when/if a new farm bill passes — have totaled nearly $50 million annually for Kentucky farmers in recent years, accounting for 5 percent of Kentucky net farm income.
  • U.S. corn used for production of ethanol and other byproducts is expected to increase in the upcoming marketing season to 4.9 billion bushels (35 percent of anticipated corn production) compared to 4.65 billion last year (43 percent of production) and its peak level of 5 billion (40 percent of production) in 2011/12 season.

Kentuckiana Dairy Exchange. This year’s Kentuckiana Dairy Exchange is July 30-31 and involves tours of dairy operations in LaPorte and north central Indiana. This program is sponsored annually by the University of Kentucky and Purdue University along with dairy producer organizations in the two states.

The vans leave from the Shelby County Extension Service office in Shelbyville at 7 a.m. July 30 and then head to Argos Holstein Farms in Argos, Ind. Dinner and evening sessions will be held at a hotel in LaPorte, Ind. Five other dairy operations in that area will be toured over the two days.

To register by the deadline of July 19, contact Larissa Tucker at 859-257-5986 or larissa.tucker@uky.edu. There is a $50 per person registration fee which holds your spot on the tour which is first come, first served. Registration fee does not cover lodging expense.

Hardin County to Host Regional Horsemen’s Caucus.

We were notified last week by the Kentucky Horse Council that Hardin County would host one of the new Horsemen’s Regional Caucuses to inspire networking, communication and education for Kentucky’s horsemen and horsewomen across the commonwealth.

The caucus includes a meal and an evening of discussions about horse issues and activities in the area. The results of the 2012 Kentucky Equine Survey will be presented, with specific county figures. Kentucky Horse Council board members will update horsemen on KHC projects and request input from horse owners on additional ideas that are specific to their areas. Local and state officials will be invited to meet the horsemen in their areas, and to understand the horse industry in the region.

The Hardin Regional Caucus will include horsemen from Meade, Breckinridge, LaRue, Grayson and Hart counties, as well as Hardin County horsemen. The event and meal are at 6 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Hardin County Extension Service, 201 Peterson Drive in Elizabethtown. There is no charge to attend the caucus, but registration is requested to estimate the number of meals and handouts. Additional caucuses to cover all regions of the commonwealth will be scheduled into 2014.

For more information, go to www.kentuckyhorse.org/horsemens-regional-caucuses/

To register, go to www.kentuckyhorse.org/HorsemensCaucuses-Registration/

Doug Shepherd is a Hardin County Extension agent for horticulture and natural resources.