“Kentucky has every tool we need…”
— James Comer, Commissioner of Agriculture
By Bobbie Poynter
“The Department of Agriculture is the only Department in Frankfort that affects every single Kentuckian every single day,” said James Comer, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture.
Commissioner Comer was the Knox County Chamber of Commerce’s guest speaker Tuesday at Forcht Bank.
Comer, a former Chamber of Commerce president himself, acknowledged the vast amount of time and effort chamber members put into their respective communities.
Comer spoke of the accomplishments made in Kentucky since he became commissioner, particularly in the Kentucky Proud program and how it has positively influenced local farmers. Comer spoke of all the areas the Agriculture has a hand in, like teaching safety courses on how to handle farm accidents, ensuring there are no major livestock disease outbreaks, regulating import and export of livestock, including racehorses. The department is in charge of regulating fuel pump quality and quantity, and checking that any and all scales in the state are accurate.
“This is a particularly big job,” he said, “as there are over two million scales and scanners in Kentucky.”
The Ag Department, he said, also inspects every amusement ride, including not only amusement rides, but go-carts, wave pools, restaurant playlands and even zip lines. Not surprisingly, the commissioner added his department regulates eggs, pesticides, and even the exterminators themselves.
“I run an agency the way you run your business,” he told them. “We do more with less. Even so, we returned unused money to the state this past year.”
Comer told members a new canola crop was introduced to Kentucky this past year in Todd County. Last year’s 3,000-acre crop is expected to expand to 9,000 acres this year. And Kentucky, he said, is now the leading industrial grower of hemp.
Members were indeed surprised when the commissioner said there was a new number one industry in Kentucky. Horses and corn were at one time the leading industries in the state, but now the number one industry in Kentucky is poultry. Last year, he said, the poultry industry took in $6 billion, up from $5 billion the past year, and $1.4 billion of farm sales is in poultry.
“Kentucky has every tool we need to grow,” he told the chamber. “The key is to keep working with our farmers.”