We’re here today to announce the appointments to a Commission whose work will provide state government and the private sector with invaluable tools and information as our family farms head into the new century.

I’m excited to introduce to you today the 28 members of the first Governor’s Commission on Family Farms.

I signed the Executive Order creating this Commission in April of this year to establish a body of family farmers from all corners of the Commonwealth to advise me, the Commissioner of Agriculture, the legislature, and our Congressional delegation on the development and implementation of policies and programs which support Kentucky’s family farms.

Kentucky is home to more farms than all but two other states, and we are the first state in the nation to establish such a Commission at the level of the Governor’s office.

Agriculture Commissioner Billy Ray Smith has been tireless in his efforts to improve the marketing efforts and infrastructure of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture,

and he’s to be applauded for his bold leadership in redefining the role of the Department in promoting Kentucky’s many agricultural products.

This Commission’ll complement his hard work and the work of many other people who’re on the cutting edge of helping to ensure the future economic viability of our family farms.

The economic contributions of our approximately 90,000 farm families is well documented.

Agriculture in Kentucky is a $3.2 billion industry, and provides jobs for 400,000 Kentuckians, generating $25 billion annually in related sales and services.

Over 110,000 of our people are employed on farms and another 87,000 are employed in agriculture-related services, manufacturing and processing. Indirectly, it’s estimated that an additional 200,000 people help to provide the final links between farmers and consumers.

Consequently, more than one in four working Kentuckians is in some way linked to agriculture.

But the intangible social and cultural contributions of our farm families are just as important as their economic contributions.

The work ethic, the dedication to moral value, the ability to make decisions, and the meaning of independence are all very important traits which exhibit themselves and develop themselves better in the agriculture experience than any other venue.

Our farm families are often active and valued community members, making their towns and cities better places to live.

And that’s why it’s so important that we as a society in Kentucky do everything we can to maintain the ability of our farm families to remain on the farm, in an economically viable way, and to give future generations of Kentuckians the opportunity to be raised in a family farm environment.

During the recent long period of debate on the future of tobacco in our country, which produced untold levels of anxiety among our hard-working farm families and their communities,

many in our state realized more than ever before that change in agriculture is inevitable.

We can channel that change in more productive ways that produce less turbulence.

Let us not resist change. Instead let us try to influence change, and that means leadership.

The kind of leadership that Commissioner Billy Ray Smith’s offering in the Department of Agriculture, and the kind that’s offered by Bill and Randie Gallrein here in Shelby County.

On what was once one of the state’s largest dairy farms in what is the state’s second largest tobacco producing county, Bill and Randie have shaped a successful business enterprise.

Their 1,000-acre family operation consists of tobacco, corn, soybeans, wheat, vegetables, beef cattle, a retail vegetable and greenhouse operation, a petting zoo and a barn converted to a pavilion for rental purposes.

Bill and Randie have decided to make the most of the challenges they face and have committed themselves to developing a farming operation of which they can be very proud.

They’re leaders who’re attempting to influence the changes they face in the farm economy through a diversified operation.

They’re demonstrating many of the possibilities that exist for our farm families.

The members of this commission will provide similar leadership as we seek to develop a comprehensive plan for the future of our family farms.

This Commission is comprised of 21 farm producers from all sectors of our farm economy and all parts of our state.

Four agriculture support organization representatives and three ex-officio members join these producers, and this group will examine the issues confronting Kentucky’s family farms and the opportunities for growth and development in agriculture.

Over the next twelve months, the Commission will conduct six meetings in different locations around the state to provide Commission members an opportunity to learn first-hand about the innovations going on in agriculture

and how we can translate those opportunities into a sustainable and prosperous way of life for our farm families and their communities.

Now let me introduce our new Commission members:

The Commission includes the Commissioner of Agriculture, the Secretary of the Workforce Development Cabinet and 25 members appointed by the Governor. This suggested list includes 10 women, two African-Americans, and 21 farmers. There are 5 governmental agriculture support organization representatives, and 13 non-governmental farm associations represented. There are 19 Democrats and 6 Republicans. As the Commission’s first Chair, I’m proud to present Jim Na´ve of Spencer County, where he runs a beef cattle operation with his wife. Jim is the Past-President of the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, a member of the Louisville Ag Club, and the Kentucky Farm Bureau. He brings a strong administrative background and a genuine concern for the well being of our family operations.Joining Mr. Na´ve on the Commission will be:Bill Adkins, of Clark County, a vegetable farmer and President of Melita Farms, a wholesale vegetable marketing business which distributes Kentucky grown produce to major super market chains. Karen Armstrong-Cummings, of Franklin County, who serves as Director of the Commodity Growers’ Cooperative, a subsidiary of the Burley Growers Cooperative, dedicated to creating and sustaining new products and markets for Kentucky farms. Karen also serves as a member of the National Small Farms Commission.Alice Baesler, of Fayette County, runs the Baesler family farm in Athens and works for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in the Environmental Outreach Division. John Berry, Jr., of Henry County, is an attorney and farmer, as well as former President of Burley Growers Cooperative and the Commodity Growers Cooperative.

Ron Catchen, of Montgomery County, is a County Extension Agent for the UK College of Agriculture, who has been involved in promoting agriculture in the community development plans of Montgomery County. Sharon Furches, of Calloway County farms 3,200 acres with her husband near Murray.Don Halcomb, of Simpson County, is a farmer, and the Chair of the Wheat Promotion Council, a member of the Kentucky Small Grains Promotion Council, and the Kentucky Corn Growers Association. Mark Haney, of Pulaski County, is a fruit and vegetable producer, a member of the Kentucky Farm Bureau state Board of Directors, and the Kentucky Horticulture Council. Mark is attending a national water quality meeting in New Orleans and was unable to join us today.Susan Harkins, of Bourbon County, is a farmer who owns the Duntreath Farm, as well as a founder of Partners for Family Farms and the Lexington Farmers Market. She also serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the Kentucky Aquaculture Association.Hampton "Hoppy" Henton, of Woodford County, is State Executive Director of USDA Farm Service Agency, and raises tobacco, soybeans, wheat, hay and cattle on 400 acres. He’s also our direct link to the USDA Farm Service Agency at the national level. Denise Hoffman, of Owsley County raises tobacco and goats, markets goat cheese products, and is an active leader in Owsley County. Denise is out of town today attending a Soil Conservation meeting in Puerto Rico.

Paul Hornback of here in Shelby County, is a tobacco farmer and member of the Kentucky Farm Bureau, and a respected leader in the agriculture community.

Janet Johnson, of Allen County, is an Allen County Extension Agent, and will represent the UK College of Agriculture, providing a crucial link to many farm families through the Cooperative Extension Service. David Kash, of Wolfe County, is the County USDA Farm Service Agency Director, and a tobacco and cattle farmer.

Chris Kummer, of Simpson County is a farmer, and a member of Kentucky Soybean Association State Board, the Kentucky Corn Growers, and the Kentucky Small Grain Growers. Hannah Lovell (Lo-Val) of Muhlenberg County represents the voice of our future farmers as President of the Kentucky Future Farmers of America Association. Hannah is a Sophomore at Murray State University, majoring in Agriculture, and is in Washington today at a meeting of the State FFA Presidents. Sylvia Lovely, of Fayette County, is Executive Director/CEO for the Kentucky League of Cities, and a founding member of Partners for Family Farms. Sylvia represents the crucial link to urban consumers and the general business community. Mattie Mack, of Meade County is a tobacco farmer, and you may remember participated on President Clinton’s Tobacco Roundtable during his visit to Carrollton. Luther Mason of Scott County is President of the Scott County Farmers Market.Ken Mattingly, Jr., of Barren County, is a Dairy farmer and a member of the Community Farm Alliance.

John Medley, of Washington County, is a hog farmer, and serves as President of Central Kentucky Hog Marketing Cooperative, and Vice President of the Washington County Farm Bureau. Al Pedigo, of Allen County, is a farmer, and serves on the Farm Bureau state Board of Directors, the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association Board, and Chairs the State Beef Council. Steve Price, of Kenton County, serves as President of Kentucky Aquaculture Association. Bob Sparks of Nicholas County - is a Dentist, representing the health community, and is also a tobacco and cattle farmer.

In order to highlight this renewed focus on the importance of agriculture in the Commonwealth, I’m also pleased to announce that I am appointing John-Mark Hack as Director of Agriculture Policy in the Office of the Governor. John-Mark was an extension agent in Nicholas County for three years, before which he and his wife served for two years as Peace Corps volunteers in Costa Rica. He is a graduate of Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky. John-Mark will serve as my designee on the Commission on Family Farms and coordinate all our office activities in the agriculture community as a whole.

I’m also pleased to announce that, thanks to the cooperation of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, several UK Agriculture faculty and other personnel will provide staff support for the work of this commission. Leading this effort on the University’s behalf will be Jeffrey S. Hall, the Coordinator of Ag Project 2000, a statewide economic development initiative with the mission of increasing farm income. Jeff will serve as an Administrative Liaison for the Commission.

I am proud to present this group of distinguished farm leaders today as the first Governor’s Commission on Family Farms. We all look forward to the products of your work as we strive cooperatively to develop a comprehensive plan for the future of our family farmers throughout the Commonwealth.