My top priority as Commissioner of Agriculture is expanding economic opportunities for our communities. Kentucky’s rural communities are shrinking in both size and in opportunity. We must foster collaboration across agencies and the private sector to address issues like lack of broadband and good-paying jobs in our rural communities that make it difficult for our farm kids to return home.
We will also focus on ending food insecurity. We must eliminate the food deserts in our urban and rural communities and ensure all students have access to healthy school lunches. No Kentuckian should go hungry, and my office will work toward making this a reality.
The Department of Agriculture faces similar workforce issues facing the rest of the economy. Good talent is expensive and hard to recruit. As Kentucky’s next Commissioner of Agriculture, I am committed to recruiting the best and the brightest as we form a staff that will make Kentucky the national standard.
The central focus of Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture should be economic development. The job of the Commissioner of Agriculture is not to tell farmers how to farm; it is to build the pipeline from Kentucky farms to industries both here and abroad. By developing relationships, securing investments, and building new markets for Kentucky Proud products, the Commissioner of Agriculture can make a meaningful impact in the lives and pocketbooks of our Kentucky farm families and industries. is item.
Our Department of Agriculture consistently misses opportunities to collaborate across government agencies and the private sector to strengthen current markets for Kentucky Proud products and create new markets both here and abroad. We need a Commissioner who understands economic development and how to prioritize Kentucky farmers.
Kentucky deserves a Commissioner who will finally work with Frankfort and Washington to secure generational investments to rebuild infrastructure and launch job-creating initiatives like rural broadband.
We continue to battle hunger in Kentucky. The current Commissioner has done good work with Feeding Kentucky and Dare to Care Food Bank, but we must do more to eliminate food deserts and combat food insecurity.
Our Commonwealth has such a rich history of farming families - I am proud to count my family among them. But I also realized that I couldn’t protect and promote my family’s farm as a farmer; I needed to get skin in the game and advocate for family farms, large and small, all across Kentucky.
For too long, we have had Commissioners of Agriculture focused on telling farmers how to farm. What Kentucky needs is a Commissioner of Agriculture focused on creating and developing new markets for Kentucky agricultural products. By expanding the economic opportunities for our farming families to sell their products both here in Kentucky, around the nation, and abroad.
I will be a Commissioner of Agriculture laser-focused on protecting and expanding the economic opportunities of family farms, creating new, good-paying jobs, and elevating the status of Kentucky agriculture. I am a product of Kentucky’s family farms, and it would be the honor of a lifetime to work in their service.
As the next Agriculture Commissioner I will be the driver in rolling out new crops, including cannabis, and building sustainable ecosystems around them. This requires moving quickly to initiate grow operations while also building a strong market for Kentucky crops. We can’t let what happened with hemp happen with new opportunities for Kentucky farmers. Our next Ag Commissioner has to work to ensure a bright future for new opportunities.
Kentucky has already experienced a dramatic loss of black farmers and national analysis of USDA data continues to find that Black Farmers receive a disproportionately low share of direct loans given to farmers. On the state level, I want to review, evaluate and then make public the demographic characteristics of KDA Development Funds and KY Ag Finance Corporation services to Kentucky farmers. We need to know what has been happening in order to identify strategies for remediating the situation. Finding real terms to identify this issue in Kentucky and then engaging those affected will lead to identifying strong possible solutions.