Boyle Farm-City Breakfast celebrates county’s ag contributions
By Ray Bowman
(A version of this article first appeared in The Farmer’s Pride, August 3 issue)
Agriculture is a pretty big deal in Boyle county and they’d like everyone to know about it.
“Boyle County has 620 farms, total, covering 121,549 acres with the average farm size being 163 acres,” county Farm Bureau President Brad Godbey told the 150 or so attendees at the 4th Annual Boyle County Farm-City Breakfast. He says that in 2015, the county brought in almost $31 million in ag receipts.
“Ag-related jobs in our county are very important,” Godby continued, noting that for the same 2015 period they represented just shy of 8 percent of the county’s employment. He speculated that number has grown and will continue to grow.
Godby then introduced the morning’s featured speaker, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, who continued the theme of ag’s importance.
“Wendell Berry says that if you eat, you are committing and agricultural act,” Quarles began. “Food brings people together.”
The commissioner brought the gathering up to speed on the workings of his organization, reminding them that farming is not the only commitment the department has. They are also the Commonwealth’s largest regulatory agency, responsible for areas as diverse as the accuracy of gasoline pumps to the safety of carnival rides.
Quarles also showed another side of his personality, a sly, subtle sense of humor.
“It’s a fact that there are more people on FarmersOnly.com than there are farmers,” he mused, referring to the infamous on-line dating site.
Noting that the average age of farmers in the United States is currently 62, the commissioner said, “name another occupation where the average age is almost retirement age, besides the U.S. Senate.”
“If you’ve had a biscuit from McDonalds anywhere on the east coast of the United States, it came from Kentucky,” Quarles noted. After asking who hasn’t had a biscuit from McDonalds and receiving a modest response, he observed “there’s some liars out there.”
Shifting back to his serious side, the commissioner talked about one of his pet programs. One year ago, he launched the Kentucky Hunger Initiative, an innovative program that works to identify food solutions for Kentuckians who need it most.
Recently, the Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 237, the Food Immunity Bill. “Now Kentucky has the strongest Good Samaritan donation language in the nation,” Quarles said.
According to the Louisville Courier Journal, “the bill satisfies retailers’ concerns they might be sued by a consumer claiming illness for consuming packaged, shelf-stable products. It also provides liability protection for farmers to donate unsold crops to food banks and nonprofit agencies.”
Quarles closed by complimenting Boyle county as a community that cares about ag literacy and understanding agriculture and “get’s it.”