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Over the last decade, changes have taken place in the tobacco industry. Kentucky farm families, political leadership, agricultural organizations and many others have confronted the question of how to best make the adjustment away from tobacco production in a way that allows farmers to capture the value of their assets, while adjusting to a sustainable, alternative asset base. Many producers have led the way by having already made a successful effort to replace lost tobacco income.

Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund: Growing KentuckyA portion of Kentucky's Master Settlement Agreement funds are invested in agriculture through the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund (KADF). Since 2001, more than $340 million has been invested from the KADF in an array of county, regional and state projects designed to increase net farm income and create sustainable new farm-based business enterprises.

Now, ten years into Kentucky's historic agricultural diversification effort, many ask "How can Kentucky continue to help farmers build on the models of our agricultural leaders, maximize the value of their assets and explore new opportunities in production and marketing of agricultural products?"

The Challenge

During his address at the 2011 GOAP Conference in February, Gov. Steve Beshear issued a challenge to Kentucky agriculture.

I want everyone to take a fresh look at the Agricultural Development Fund and determine how to utilize the available resources to spark new and innovative ideas, encourage competition and pursue genuine opportunities that will lead to greater profitability for our farmers.

We need to consider ways that the Agricultural Development Fund can be used to entice proposals that create or expand markets for farmers, build on core agricultural assets in the various regions of the state or foster agricultural entrepreneurship and agribusiness development.
 
- Gov. Steve Beshear

The Response

Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund Forums: Growing Kentucky Agriculture

On April 19, the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy announced a series of forums to gain input in the future use of the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund (KADF) to continue strengthening Kentucky's agricultural economy. The forum series is just one part of the response to the Governor's challenge.

The Kentucky Agricultural Development Forums were held in eight locations across the Commonwealth. The series will kicked off on Thursday, May 19 at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort. More than 370 people attended, with 48% being farmers. Comments from participants have been compiled for public viewing: 2011 KADF Forums - Report (.pdf, 776 KB)

These regional venues provided a way to offer new and innovative ideas and share KADF successes in each region. Broad topics for each of the forums include: regional challenges and solutions, leveraging resources, county collaboration, area trends and continued KADF support. Audience participation is what made these events successful, with all concepts and comments being compiled into a report (linked above).

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