Commissioner Quarles supports legal reform to protect Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund
Reform needed to protect Kentucky's agriculture community, Quarles says
FRANKFORT (Jan. 5, 2021) – Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles today announced his support moving management of the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund from the Governor’s Office to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
"2020 was a wild year, not just because of the coronavirus pandemic,” Commissioner Quarles said. “We saw executive power expanded and the public and the agriculture community shut out of decisions made by the Governor’s Office. That’s why today I am announcing my support for Senate Bill 3, which will protect Kentucky’s agricultural community by moving the Kentucky Agriculture Development Fund from the Governor’s Office to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the home of our farm community. This idea has long been a subject of discussion in agriculture circles and consensus has emerged in the last year that this is a reform whose time has come.”
Senate Bill 3 will attach the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board (KADB) and the Kentucky Agriculture Finance Corporation (KAFC) to the KDA. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Paul Hornback is the lead sponsor for the bill.
“I regret that we have to take this move, but we have no choice but to protect the Agriculture Development Fund,” said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Paul Hornback of Shelbyville. “I opposed bills like this in the past, but it’s clear that the Governor has been playing politics with agriculture from the get-go, from changing the title of the office overseeing these funds to include his name to excluding production agriculture from his ag-tech advisory group. The grassroots have spoken and Kentucky Farm Bureau members voted to adopt policy at their winter conference to move the board. I am proud to move this board to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the place that knows agriculture best.”
The KADB was created by the General Assembly in 2000 and serves to distribute 50 percent of the state monies received from the Master Settlement Agreement for the general purpose of agricultural development in the Commonwealth. KADB invests these funds in innovative proposals that increase net farm income and affect tobacco farmers, tobacco-impacted communities, and agriculture across the state by stimulating markets for Kentucky agricultural products, finding new ways to add value to Kentucky agricultural products, and exploring new opportunities for Kentucky farms.
“In recent weeks, the Governor attempted to pressure the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board to adopt a proposal whipped up in his office by his staff, a proposal that did not originate from the board – something I have never seen in my time as Commissioner. Thankfully, the board pushed back and routed the project to a working group for further study,” Commissioner Quarles said. “But with new appointments, the Governor will soon have a rubber stamp for spending tobacco settlement dollars without proper vetting. That’s the agriculture community’s money. I cannot sit by and watch that money be spent for political ends. Several different versions of this legislation have been introduced over the years, and now is the time to move this board to the agency that truly represents rural Kentucky: the Department of Agriculture.