Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Presents Funding for Dairy Heifer Replacement Project

Press Release Date:  Thursday, July 19, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Angela Blank

Says program is ‘giving farmers a chance to diversify’

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today presented a check for nearly $1.4 million to a Mason County farming operation that is diversifying – and helping dozens of other farms diversify – to offset a loss of tobacco income.

The presentation to Burton Livestock LLC was a highlight of the Farmer-Banker Field Day held on the dairy heifer development farm operated by Harold and Shannon Burton at Mays Lick.

The check – for $1,391,928 – represented combined funding from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund and the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corp. for the Burtons’ Dairy Heifer Replacement Program.

Harold Burton purchases calves and raises them to about 22 months of age. He breeds them on his farm before shipping them to 15 large dairies in Ohio and Michigan. He currently is raising 6,000 heifers and contracts part of the work to 35 farmers in six counties – Mason, Fleming, Bracken, Rowan, Nicholas and Harrison.

“For much of the history of Kentucky, our farmers have played an important role in the lives of our citizens, through their economic contributions as well as by providing Kentucky-grown commodities,” said Governor Fletcher. “This dairy heifer replacement program is giving farmers a chance to diversify and expand their operations by providing new production opportunities.”

The funding to Burton Livestock included a $967,110 loan from the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corp. and $419,818 from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund. In addition, the Mason County Agricultural Development Board contributed $2,000 and the Fleming County board contributed $3,000.

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 into the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund.  To date, Kentucky has invested more than $244 million to an array of county, regional and state projects designed to increase net farm income and create sustainable new farm-based business enterprises. The diversification programs represent nearly 3,000 projects that have been funded through the Agricultural Development Fund, since the inception of the program in January 2001.