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Legislative session brought major wins for Kentucky agriculture

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By Rep. Brandon Reed

 The 2019 session of the Kentucky General Assembly has concluded, with monumental accomplishments for school safety, the pro-life movement, and many other policy areas. Agriculture was likewise near the top of the list, as we took action to empower young farmers and level the playing field for our cattlemen in an age of newer, emerging technology.

Without a doubt, one of the big highlights for agriculture this session was the passage of House Bill 311. I was the primary cosponsor of this measure, which ensures that an emerging product known as “fake meat,” which is produced in a lab and made out of animal muscle tissue, is appropriately labeled as such. While not available in stores, this measure will ensure that we are prepared for that coming reality, and that our cattle farmers are protected from misleading labeling on products they did not produce. Our cattle farmers play a critical role in rural economies like ours, and it is important that we look out for them. My friend, Representative Michael Meredith, did an outstanding job in passing this bill, and I was proud to support his efforts.

We also passed a measure aimed at empowering young farmers to enter our profession, as the average age of a farmer is rising on an annual basis. SB 246 includes a provision creating a beginning farmer tax credit underneath existing small business tax programs, which would allow a farmer to receive a credit for selling their farm to a beginning farmer.

The 2019 session also included an effort to begin raising awareness of the rise of suicide rates within the agriculture community. I passed House Concurrent Resolution 62 to begin this awareness campaign, which establishes September 18 as Farmer Suicide Prevention Day in the Commonwealth and urges state agencies to work with agricultural entities to study the possibility of establishing an office to be a central point of contact for farmers experiencing stressful times.

As someone who continues to live and work on the family farm I was raised on, I have seen firsthand the stress and uncertainty that our farm families endure on a daily basis. These are the families who grow our nation’s food supply, and make countless contributions to our local economy. This resolution is a solid first step toward raising awareness for this growing issue, and I look forward to continuing these conversations in the future. 

I also sponsored two resolutions adopted by the House of Representatives honoring organizations who play a large role in the success of farmers across Kentucky. House Resolution 11 recognizes the one-hundredth anniversary of Kentucky Farm Bureau, and commends this outstanding organization for their advocacy for policies to help Kentucky farmers. House Resolution 12 recognizes a week in February as “FFA Week,” an organization of special importance to me as a former FFA President. I have seen firsthand the value of helping students realize leadership roles within the agriculture community, and there is no doubt that FFA plays a major role in starting many of our students on a pathway to success.

While the 2019 session is over, I’ll be spending the interim session meeting with constituents and researching issues to be addressed in the 2020 session. It is an honor for me to serve as your voice in Frankfort, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can assist you in any way.

Editor’s note: Rep. Brandon Reed represents the 24th House District, which includes Green, Larue and Marion Counties. Contact him with any questions, concerns, or advice. He can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or via e-mail at Brandon.Reed@LRC.KY.GOV.