Governor Beshear Signs Bills Supporting Farmers and Food Banks
Governor Steve Beshear today (Sept. 15) joined state officials and community leaders to recognize two bills that support the state’s farm families and food banks.
In particular, the budget bill provided funding for the Farms to Food Banks initiative. A second bill designed to support landowner rights in protecting their crops and livestock from nuisance wildlife also has beneficial impacts for food banks.
Gov. Beshear ceremonially signed House Bills 235 and 448 at the Harrison County Extension Office in Cynthiana.
HB 235, also known as the budget bill, details Kentucky’s more than $20.3 billion General Fund two-year budget for the executive branch. HB 235 appropriates $1.2 million over the biennium for the Farms to Food Banks program from the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy.
The Farms to Food Banks initiative provides fresh, healthy produce to Kentuckians in need, while providing additional markets for farmers. Through the project, the Kentucky Association of Food Banks purchases Kentucky-grown surplus and No. 2 produce that is edible but not sellable on the retail market. The produce is distributed at no cost to low-income Kentuckians throughout the food bank network.
“In these tough economic times, it gives me great pleasure to support programs and initiatives that will help our farm families, land owners and Kentuckians in need,” said Gov. Beshear. “This summer alone, the Farms to Food Banks initiative distributed more than 2.8 million pounds of produce in 108 counties, providing an alternative market for more than 300 farmers located in 60 counties.”
“The two-year budget that Governor Beshear proposed and that the General Assembly largely adopted this past spring represents a major step forward for our schools and programs that help those most in need,” said Rep. Rick Rand, chair of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. “At the same time, the budget also gives a welcome boost to agriculture. That includes funding the Farms to Food Banks program, which my friend Rep. Tom McKee sponsored, and continuing the highly successful farming programs funded by the tobacco settlement.”
Since 2011, Farms to Food Banks has received more than $400,000 in state and county funds from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, including $60,000 in unclaimed Phase II funds.
House Bill 448, which took effect July 15, gives better protection to Kentucky’s landowners by clarifying their legal ability to remove wildlife in the act of causing damage. These nuisance or depredating wildlife, such as deer, can cause significant crop destruction in a short period of time.
After those depredating animals are harvested, property owners may dispose of the carcasses on-site or can donate the meat to be processed and sent to a local food bank. Food banks often need more protein resources, and this bill allows meat that might otherwise be wasted to be used to help local families.
“HB 448 is a simple private property rights bill that actually benefits wildlife in whole by making sure landowners can protect their property, crops and livestock from unreasonable damage,” said Gov. Beshear. “This law allows landowners, when necessary, to remove wildlife that are causing damage.”
“I thank Governor Beshear for being here in Cynthiana to sign legislation I was proud to sponsor that makes it easier for farmers to protect their livestock and crops from destructive wildlife and encourages farmers to harvest their excess produce on behalf of our food banks,” said Rep. Tom McKee, who chairs the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee. “Together, these two measures are helping farmers to market all of their products and to make sure this food is not damaged before it is sold or donated.”
Landowners who harvest and remove depredating wildlife must still report it to a conservation officer within 24 hours.
Story provided by Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office