Kentucky Department of Agriculture helping Kentucky farmers and keeping Kentucky Agriculture growing...(Read More)
PROBLEM: People in the Appalachian counties of KY suffer from extreme poverty, high unemployment, and health issues tied to a shortage of fresh local foods. Farmers are capable of producing food products but don’t always have a convenient way to reach consumers. Many consumers have to travel long distances to find fresh foods, and they may not have a reliable means of transportation while others find the cost of fresh foods to be beyond their reach. Many residents in the Appalachian counties and other regions across the nation have little choice but to buy processed foods and foods with little to no nutritional value. A robust regional food system would help mitigate all of these challenges. Producers would have a means to sell their products and Consumers would have convenient sources of nutritious local foods, which would improve their health outcomes.
SOLUTION: The Kentucky Proud farm marketing program seeks to help family farmers and small food-producing businesses find markets for their products. Administered by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) and funded by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, Kentucky Proud is the official state brand for farm products raised, grown, processed, and/or manufactured in Kentucky. KDA marketing specialists work to develop supply lines of Kentucky Proud products from the farm to the retail shelf or the farmers’ market stand.
Farmers’ markets have plenty of room to grow in eastern Kentucky, and the KDA offers many services to help them maximize their sales and profits. KDA staff travels the state to provide assistance and education to markets and vendors. The KDA helped many markets obtain Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) equipment that enables consumers to pay for their purchases with debit, credit, or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) cards. KDA works very closely with the Kentucky Department for Public Health, Food Safety Branch, and the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment to provide markets and consumers the most up-to-date information. The KDA launched Appalachia Proud in 2013. The Appalachia Proud logo designates farm products produced in 37 eastern Kentucky counties.
In the spring of 2016, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles created the Kentucky Hunger Initiative and convened a task force of leaders in agriculture, government, business, education, and the faith community to seek solutions to food insecurity in Kentucky. As a result of the Hunger Initiative, the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation shielding businesses and individuals from legal liability when they donate food to a food bank, and in July, Farm Credit Mid-America and CoBank announced that they would donate some 140 chest freezers to food pantries across the Commonwealth.