State invests $500K in Shelby ag programs

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Gallrein Farms gets $150,000 to expand its retail operations

By Steve Doyle

The Kentucky Agriculture Development Board is contributing $500,000 to help the development of ag-related initiatives in Shelby County.

The board approved in June a $350,000 contribution for the County Agricultural Investment Program, which provides resources for farmers to improve and diversify their production practices, and in August OKd another $150,000 for Gallrein Farms to expand its produce market.

The contribution through the CAIP program is not unusual. Shelby County typically benefits from the pool of resources available for this program, some of which are funded by Kentucky’s slice of the master tobacco settlement.

But the contribution to Gallrein is different, with the state investing primarily so that this  35-year-old family farm on Vigo Road can expand its presence as a roadside market for the Kentucky Proud-sanctioned program.

“We’re going to expand our greenhouse and retail market,” owner Bill Gallrein said. “The total expansion is about seven thousand square feet.”

Gallrein said the space would allow the addition of more value-added products and more of those Kentucky Proud-designated items.

“We want to add a full line of cheeses and eggs,” he said, noting products that would be new to consumers.

The expansion also would benefit other farms in Shelby and surrounding counties, because it would enable Gallrein to purchase more of their products.

“We’re already doing that,” he said.

Gallrein named Burnside Orchard, Mulberry Orchard and Courtney Farms as three from which he purchases products. “And we’re buying our eggs from another,” he said.

Gallrein said this was the first time that he had applied for a state grant and that he was “somewhat surprised” to have earned it.

“We feel like it’s an awful good product,” he said. “We feel like what we’re doing is definitely an asset to community and just like to expand it to community.”

State leaders expressed their pleasure with the grant.

 “I am committed to creating opportunities that will make Kentucky’s agricultural community stronger,” Gov.  Steve Beshear said in the formal announcement. “Projects such as this one funded by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board play an integral role in achieving this goal.”

Said state Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville): "This support is important for farmers so that they can meet the changing agriculture demands of the economy. We must continue to give Kentucky’s farmers the tools they need to keep them vibrant and growing in the future.”

The larger grant for CAIP was in response to a proposal the Shelby County Cattlemen Inc. submitted to the Shelby County Agricultural Development Council and the state ag board to provide cost-share incentives to area farmers. 

Tammy Brookshier of the Shelby County Cattlemen and the extension office, coordinator for the program, was unavailable for comment, but the state’s release said that CAIP is designed to give farmers incentives to diversify and improve their production.

It combines what were previously known as county model cost-share programs into one, where each model program becomes an investment area.

CAIP covers 11 investment areas, including commercial production of aquaculture; bees and honey; equine; forage; fruit; livestock; mushrooms; ornamental horticulture; poultry; rabbits; timber; and vegetables, as well as agritourism business development; commercial kitchen construction or conversion; energy efficiency/production; and on-farm water enhancement.

“The diversification of agriculture in Shelby County is greatly aided by the commitment of these Ag. Development Funds,” state Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) said in the announcement.  “I am pleased with the commitment of Shelby County Cattlemen to our farm families in administering this on-farm investment program.”

Producers in Shelby County may sign up for the grants between Sept. 26 and Oct. 7 and can contact Brookshier at 633-4593 or tammy.brookshier@uky.edu.