Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Dedicates Bath County Agricultural Education and Marketing Center

Press Release Date:  Monday, June 18, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Lanny Brannock

Presents ceremonial check for agricultural diversity
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today joined in the dedication of the $3.3 million Bath County Agricultural Education and Marketing Center in Owingsville. In his previous service as a member of Congress, Governor Fletcher helped secure funding for the center, which will serve farmers in six surrounding counties and serve as a model project for agricultural diversification throughout Kentucky.

“Agriculture has been the backbone of Kentucky’s economy for much of its existence, and this center will help protect and promote its future,” said Governor Fletcher. “This is an excellent example of how communities can pool resources to achieve regional success.”
The center will provide and support the sale of local produce, independent food product development, farm-to-school activities and other educational programs. It will include a covered farmer’s market with a storefront, certified commercial kitchen with meeting facilities, a processing unit and extension offices.

“This center will give Bath County a much-needed economic boost and will be a driving force in today’s agricultural market,” said Sen. R.J. Palmer (D-Winchester). “This is a major investment in this area and offers a path to success for Kentucky farmers.”

Bath County historically ranked in the upper tier of Kentucky’s tobacco producing counties and remains among the counties most dependent on tobacco income.

“Because tobacco has been such a large part of Bath County’s economy, it’s urgent that farmers have a means to diversify and thrive,” said Rep. Carolyn Belcher (D-Owingsville). “The Bath County Agricultural Education and Marketing Center offers resources to farmers to allow them to continue the tradition of Bath County’s strong agrarian economy.”

While in Congress, Governor Fletcher helped organizers secure a $450,000 Rural Business Economic Grant to launch the regional center.

The Governor’s Office for Local Development is the agency responsible for administering Community Economic Growth Grant funding and Kentucky Infrastructure Authority funding contained in this project.

$304,385 for Agricultural Diversification Funding

Governor Fletcher presented a check for $304,385 to the Bath County Agricultural Development Council for agricultural diversification efforts.

“Bath County agricultural development funds create a tremendous impact on the total economy of Bath County and the Commonwealth,” Governor Fletcher said. “The Bath County Agricultural Development Council has continued its support of agricultural diversification by using these funds to help county producers make needed changes to their farming operations.”

Governor Fletcher and the Kentucky Legislature continue to make great strides toward lessening Kentucky’s dependence on tobacco production while revitalizing the farm economy by investing 50 percent of Kentucky’s Master Settlement Agreement proceeds in the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund.  To date, Kentucky has invested more than $244 million in an array of county, regional and state projects designed to increase net farm income and create sustainable new farm-based business enterprises.

Nearly 3,000 projects have been funded through the Agricultural Development Fund since the inception of the program in January 2001.