Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles speaks with Kentucky County Clerks at their February meeting in Lexington to give a presentation about the Ag Tag Program. (Kentucky Department of Agriculture)
Commissioner Quarles visits with County Clerks to kick-off Ag Tag season
$10 donation benefits Kentucky agriculture youth
LEXINGTON (Feb. 23, 2023) – Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarlesand representatives from the Kentucky 4-H Foundation and the Kentucky FFA Foundation joined Kentucky County Clerks for their February meeting in Lexington to give a presentation about the Ag Tag Program.
“Without our county clerks the Ag Tag program wouldn’t be as successful as it is,” Commissioner Quarles said. “For years, people renewing their farm license plates have been given the opportunity to donate to the Ag Tag fund. Millions have been donated during that time and our youth are the ones benefiting.”
Every year, when owners review their farm license plates, or “ag tags,” which depict the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Kentucky Proud logo, along with the 4-H and FFA emblems, they have the opportunity to make a $10 donation. That money goes into a fund divided equally among Kentucky 4-H, Kentucky FFA, and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) to support Kentucky’s agriculture youth and other organizations and programs benefiting Kentucky’s farm families.
Last year, donations to the Ag Tag program reached $606,223.11. From that total, each group received $202,074.37 to invest back into their communities for youth development and promotional programs.
KDA uses its share of the Ag Tag funds for various programs, such as the Ag Athlete of the Year scholarships, the Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award, Kentucky Women in Agriculture, and Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom.
Half of the 4-H and FFA donations are returned to local councils and chapters, allowing leaders in those contributing communities to use the funds to cover the cost of 4-H and FFA camp and other leadership programs for youth. In the past, County 4-H councils have used Ag Tag dollars to provide 4-H camp scholarships and travel for life-changing, educational experiences to enable local 4-H youth to grow as leaders and engaged citizens. FFA chapters were free to use the money to meet the greatest needs in their community, such as FFA jackets for students in need or helping cover travel costs to leadership events.
Since 2016, the first year Commissioner Quarles began his tenure as Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner, farmers have donated $4.3 million to the Ag Tag Program. The program didn’t start under Quarles’ administration, but his push to promote donations to the fund each year has allowed it to flourish.
The “Ag Tag” fund has also been successful due to the involvement of Kentucky FFA and Kentucky 4-H, the two leading youth organizations in Kentucky and the nation.
“While they work to prepare youth to take on the challenges agriculture faces, KDA works every day to promote Kentucky’s farmers, inviting each resident in the commonwealth to realize the importance agriculture plays in the present and in the future,” Commissioner Quarles said. “That future is Kentucky’s agriculture youth. That’s why this year’s Ag Tag campaign theme is ‘Your Donation. Your Community. Our Leaders.’ Funding from your voluntary donations helps all three organizations fulfill our mission to sustain Kentucky agriculture for generations to come.”
In the weeks to come, Commissioner Quarles invites those who are stopping by their county clerk’s office to renew their “Ag Tags,” to also make the $10 donation.
The record for Ag Tag collections in a single year is $731,627, which was set in 2021. As Commissioner Quarles finishes his last year as Agriculture Commissioner is goal is to break that record once again this year, while at the same time, helping ensure a bright future for Kentucky agriculture.