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Kentucky Ag Report: July 22, 2011

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By Todd Martin

Celebrate Ky. farmers' market week

Kentucky farmers' market vendors will take a well-deserved bow when Kentucky celebrates Farmers' Market Week July 24-30.

"Kentucky's more than 150 farmers' markets offer a wonderful bounty of delicious, nutritious Kentucky Proud foods," Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer said. "They also offer something you can't get anywhere else - the chance to meet the people who produced the food you're buying.

Kentucky farmers' markets sell fruits and vegetables that are harvested at their peak of freshness and nutritional value. Many markets also offer meats, breads, cheeses, jams, jellies and many other products.

Farmers' market sales total about $8 million a year.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service work together to provide Kentucky producers with educational and training opportunities.

A directory of registered Kentucky farmers' markets is available on the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's website, www.kyagr.com.

USDA report praises state's local food work

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture's efforts to get local foods onto the plates of school children was praised in a new federal report.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm to School Team cited Kentucky's examples of successful farm to school efforts in the Jefferson and Montgomery county school systems. The Kentucky Proud farm marketing program includes 78 school districts among its more than 2,500 members.

The report said Kentucky Proud promotes the use of local foods in schools, and noted that the Jefferson and Montgomery County school systems use the Kentucky Proud logo to identify local food products served in their cafeterias.

Montgomery County schools also post large images in the school cafeterias of school nutrition director Julie Tuttle and the local growers who supply the schools with produce in order to "personalize" school food service staff and local farmers with the students.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture offers Kentucky farmers free Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training. GAP educates producers on produce production and handling techniques to minimize the risk of microbial contamination.

"One of my major goals for my second term was to help our schools serve local Kentucky Proud foods to their students, and we have been very successful," Agricultural Commissioner Richie Farmer said. "I'm grateful to all the producers and school food service directors who have embraced this program."

2012 Veterinary Incentive Program seeking applications

The Kentucky Large/Food Animal Veterinary Incentive Program is now accepting applications from eligible veterinarians, vet technicians and technologists. The program encourages veterinary school graduates to pursue a career with large/food animals. Several areas of Kentucky do not have a local veterinarian to attend to cattle, horses or other farm animals, making this incentive program vitally important to the ongoing health of Kentucky's livestock population. "We need to continue growing and investing in the number of qualified large-animal veterinarians practicing in Kentucky and make agriculturally-based veterinary practice an attractive career path," said Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney, who is also chairman of the committee overseeing this program." For graduates who choose to pursue a career that devotes at least 50 percent of its time to large/food animals, recipients may receive up to $18,000 over three years for payment toward outstanding school loans. The recipients will be announced in January of 2012.

To qualify for the program, applicants must have either a degree in veterinary medicine from an accredited college or university, or have completed an accredited two-year veterinary technician or four-year technologist program, and veterinarian applicants must be accredited by the USDA-APHIS to perform veterinary medical tasks in Kentucky. Applications and more information can be found at www.kyfb.com/federation/kentucky-ag.