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Op-ed: We can no longer ignore the losses we are seeing in farmland

Source: KY Farm Bureau President Eddie Melton


"At the end of the day, we never want to depend on another country to feed us. Keeping our farms in business is not only a matter of food security but national security."


With the announcement of the Kentucky Farmland Transition Initiative (KFTI) last month, I have heard from many farm families and agriculture organizations across the state voicing their support of a sustainable path to ensure our farmland remains in agricultural production.


That is the goal of the KFTI, as we work together to make sure the farmland we have remains in production now and for future generations.



According to census data compiled over the last 20 years,

Kentucky lost 17,000 farms and 1.4 million acres of farmland.



In hearing from so many people, I am reassured that the timing is right to move forward with this initiative as we look to stop the losses of production farmland that we have seen through the data supplied by the last several Agriculture Censuses.


The most recent Census, conducted in 2022, has certainly been a factor in developing this plan and something Kentucky Farm Bureau will make a priority in the coming weeks and months.


We simply cannot afford to see those types of losses continue. Not only do we depend on our farms to produce the food, fuel, and fiber needs we have in this country and throughout the world, but the vitality of rural communities depends on those local farms and ag-related businesses.

KFB President Eddie Melton

As we move forward with KFTI we have three main objectives: increase awareness and understanding of the problem of farmland loss and encourage engagement in the issue; gather and provide technical assistance and localized resources to assist families who desire to keep farmland in production; and pursue state and federal policy development that will help keep production agriculture at the forefront of farmland transition and ease common burdens associated with that process.


In addition, advocacy will play a huge part in the success of KFTI. As has been the case throughout the history of KFB, our members have proven to be strong advocates related to countless issues. I have no doubt that they will continue to do so and will be an integral part of the success of this initiative.


We must be successful in all efforts made by our agriculture community to ensure we do not continue to lose precious farmland as we have seen over the past decades.


At the end of the day, we never want to depend on another country to feed us. Keeping our farms in business is not only a matter of food security but national security.


While that may sound somewhat alarming, we can no longer ignore the losses we are seeing in farmland as well as the difficulties new farmers are having in coming to or staying on the farm.


There are many steps to take as we move KFTI forward and it won’t be an overnight process. But as an organization, we intend to do all we can to keep declining numbers of farmland from continuing.


As farmers, as members of rural communities, and as consumers, it is a necessity. I feel certain we are moving on this initiative at the right time, with the right objectives, and absolutely for the right reasons.


If we work together as a collective ag industry, we will succeed. We must succeed. For the sake of our farm families, our rural communities, and all those who benefit from the food we grow, failure is not an option.


Eddie Melton, President

Kentucky Farm Bureau



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