Warren Beeler, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy, informed members that poultry is the number two industry after forestry in Kentucky. Consequently, GOAP is prioritizing loans to farmers ages 19-26 who want to get into the poultry business.
Beeler said he is also looking to invest beyond the traditional crops and utilizes the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation that supports higher risk loans. Its mission is to strengthen Kentucky agriculture by providing access to low-interest loan programs through joint partnerships with local lending institutions. KAFC assists beginning farmers, farm families, and agribusinesses obtain the necessary capital to establish, maintain or expand their agricultural operation.
As agriculture becomes more technologically sophisticated the program seeks to support investments in equipment such as robotic dairy milkers and computer tags for dairy cows. The programs also supports water quality monitoring on the Ohio, Kentucky and Wabash Rivers for nutrients, a mentoring program for queen beekeepers and sheep and goat operations that could be compatible with woodlands.
Beeler stressed that the GOAP Board is interested in capital projects, not in paying people not to farm. Its assistance is seed money with the expectation that the enterprise will use those funds to become self-maintaining. He mentioned
Beeler queried members for ideas that should be included in the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund that would assist woodlands.
Members were not shy in responding. Suggestions included incubator tree farms (Beeler thought demonstration farms would qualify), easements that would remove development rights to keep properties in woodlands, and cooperation with related agriculture industries. Beeler opined that KWOA needs a state-level executive position.