Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Ryan Quarles, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner, made a guest appearance at the Edmonson County Cattlemen's Association meeting last night in the Community Center in Brownsville.
Commissioner Quarles spoke on a range of issues that are affecting Kentucky farmers today, the first of which he said was that farmers are having to do their jobs on the defense, as a result of a lack of common sense in Washington, D.C..
"To be honest with you, it works against rural America and it works against agriculture," he said. "We're constantly having to defend our way of life."
He said the EPA is pulling products off the shelves that our farmers need, as well as preventing technology that the ag industry has spent decades developing. He also voiced his concern of the Green New Deal.
"This is the same one that wants to tax cow farts," he said.
He said one of the biggest issues farmers could face in the near future is the Biden administration's new defining of WOTUS, or "waters of the United States."
"This would give the EPA a power grab over in any puddle on your farm," Quarles said. "The Trump administration worked hard with American Farm Bureau, got the kinks worked out, and now they're (Biden admin) wanting to roll them back. We're keeping a vengeful, watchful eye on what's going on in Washington right now."
Quarles wanted to credit two groups of what he said were heroes who kept Kentucky going through the pandemic, which were healthcare workers and farmers. He thanked healthcare professionals for working around the clock to keep Kentuckians healthy and the farmers put in their hours to ensure Kentuckians still had food on the table.
He continued to speak on a range of other topics such as the definition of meat, which he said he worked on legislation with Rep. Michael Meredith, that would prohibit lab-grown products as being labeled as beef.
Commissioner Quarles spoke to the Edmonson Voice after addressing the crowd and offered some additional insight to what his office continues to work on for Kentucky and Edmonson County farmers.
"First, I want to say 'thank you' to Edmonson County farmers for preventing starvation, that's objective number one," he said. "Number two, we are concerned about the rising costs of inputs going into 2022, particularly when it comes to fertilizer and other common input supplies. That also affects infrastructure costs, if someone is renovating a barn, just getting reasonably-priced steel is going to be tough."
He discussed additional concern for what happens in Washington, as it relates to local farmers.
"We want to make sure that whatever policies are being talked about, that number one, Kentucky is at the table, but number two, that the finger is not pointed toward us when it comes to climate issues, that agriculture is playing a positive role, especially through conservation with helping to be better stewards of the environment."
He also wanted to discuss Kentucky Proud.
"Local agriculture is strong, we're trying to get more local food into our school systems, and the last thing is that we're trying to get a beef processing plant in Kentucky. I think that would transform the cattle industry in the Commonwealth in ways that simply need to be done."
The Edmonson County Cattlemen's Association says their goal is to be an advocate for beef farmers throughout the area as they promote the beef industry, advertise, lobby, and fight for legislation that helps working farmers.
After Quarles spoke to the crowd, local group secretary Scott Childress recognized all the veterans present and thanked them on behalf of the association for their service.
To find out more about the EC Cattlemen's Association, click here for their Facebook Page, or call 270-597-2462.
You can contact the office of Commissioner Quarles by clicking here.