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Kentucky’s biennial budget allocates millions for agriculture

Kentucky Department of Agriculture

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture secured $44.3 million for the next two years in the 2024 legislative session. Officials said the money will go to support several initiatives including the new Division of Emergency Preparedness for the Office of the State Veterinarian.

The division helps Kentucky’s producers prevent and recover from natural or biological animal disasters. Jonathan Shell is the Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture. He said anything that stops producers from working can damage the economic impact of agriculture.

“Security is extremely important in agriculture. We want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to make sure that the food supply system is as safe as possible and that our producers have as little interruption in their progress for profitability as possible,” said Shell.

During the Legislative Session, $153,000 was allocated to the division for the remainder of the current budget year. Over $443,000 was appropriated for both 2025 and 2026.

The Raising Hope Initiative is another program benefiting from the funding. Shell said the initiative focuses on mental health awareness for producers.

“Agriculture, in general, is one of the highest suicide statistical industries in the country. It’s something that we need to destigmatize, so people feel comfortable talking about the hardships and the problems that they go through,” said Shell. “We have a program here in Raising Hope that’s made a huge impact over the last couple of years since it’s been into place in trying to help suicide prevention and farm safety.”

$1 million has been appropriated each year for Raising Hope. Other initiatives that will be funded over the next two years include efforts to provide free health screenings for farmers. They include blood pressure, cholesterol, vision care, and more. Shell said bringing holistic care to farmers helps a population of people who are less likely to seek medical care.