QUICKSAND, Ky. — This year’s annual Linking Agriculture for Networking and Development forum series recently came to a close.
Created in 2017 through the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, the LAND forum series was established to bolster collaboration between the agriculture and manufacturing industries to develop and expand upon the existing supply chains for agricultural products to the manufacturing sector.
The primary goal of the forums was to make the state’s 4,500 manufacturers aware of the plentiful raw agriculture sources available in Kentucky.
“Any time we can connect a local farmer to a local manufacturer or processor, it’s a win-win for our state’s agriculture and manufacturing industries,” said Ryan Quarles, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture.
A primary theme throughout the forums was continued diversification, a subject which was put on display at the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Robinson Center for Appalachian Resource Sustainability seminar. From raising sheep, making soap, deer farming and creating fire-starter products from wood waste, the forum exhibited several new and inventive industries developed by Eastern Kentuckians.
“These forums help stimulate ideas on best practices that could be brought in from other areas, new initiatives and new enterprises,” said Tim Hughes, senior trade advisor with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. “When we started the program, the goal was to showcase scenarios in each region of the state, where farmers were already making those connections with a manufacturer or to generate conversations leading to new business relationships. Where we have greatest benefit is having people that normally wouldn’t come to an agricultural meeting and see how farms and ag-related businesses and their communities are driving the economy or creating employment opportunities or providing a higher quality of life for the citizens of the community.”
The LAND forum was highly successful in helping to connect farmers with value-added products to manufacturers. Additional stops included Bowling Green, Henderson, Maysville and Shelbyville.
“There have been some excellent relationships which have come from these forums,” Hughes said. “We’ve got great stories with individual farmers meeting manufacturers and just a short time later collaborating together on various products to the benefit of both parties.”
“I believe the University of Kentucky’s extension service plays a great part in bringing together farmers to learn new ideas, such as those associated with the LAND forum,” said Daniel Wilson, UK regional extension director for Eastern Kentucky. “Communities have seen great benefits from the roles which have come about due to extension’s involvement, with not only this forum, but the other services and opportunities offered as well.”
To view this year’s forum presentations, visit https://bit.ly/3Clgbym.
— Jordan Strickler, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
For more news from Kentucky, click here.