Ag Families - First Quarter 2021

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AgFamilies EDITOR


Jon Russelburg

ADVERTISING 270-887-3270

DESIGNER Maegan Saalwaechter

CONTRIBUTORS Tonya S. Grace Jon Russelburg Avery Seeger Michele Vowell

CONTACT US 713 S. Main Street Hopkinsville, KY 42240 270-886-4444

ABOUT US AgFamilies is a quarterly magazine serving those whose livelihood grows from the ground up in the southern Pennyrile. Inside you’ll find new and useful agricultural information, ideas for cultivating great things on your farm and a host of other fun activities

1 Organic food Stores are increasing the availability

8 Community CCFB gives back to local organizations

16 Economic COVID-19 cuts KY Hemp Works business ‘in half’

2 Industrial Water plant will see gradual opening

12 News Vertical Wellness reaches agreement with state

18 Shopping Local produce benefits consumers, community

4 Agri-business Luncheon features awards and tour

14 Economic Casey Jones ships first batch of online sales

20 Technology Farming operations more efficient, eco-friendly

for everyone in your family. AgFamilies also seeks to educate readers about the role agriculture plays in the local economy.

Benefits of organic agriculture Many stores are increasing the availability of organic fruits and vegetables. Such foods can benefit human health as well as the health of the planet. from: METRO CREATIVE

Modern consumers have more choices than ever before. Whether they’re buying appliances, books, clothing, or any of the myriad necessities of daily life, consumers have a wealth of products to choose from. An abundance of options also is available at the grocery store. That’s especially true in the produce aisle, where many stores have expanded their fresh fruit and vegetable offerings. That expansion reflects a growing preference among consumers for fresh products, including fresh produce. A 2018 report from the market research firm IRI and the Food Marketing Institute found that sales of fresh foods comprised just under 31 percent of food industry sales in 2017. Customers who prefer fresh fruits and vegetables to frozen alternatives may wonder if they should be even more selective when purchasing their favorite foods in the produce aisle. That decision may come down to whether or not to purchase organic produce. Organic produce can be significantly more expensive than non-organic fruits and vegetables, so it’s understandable if budget-conscious consumers cannot afford to go entirely organic. However, it’s important that consumers recognize the many ways that organic agriculture is having a positive impact on the health of humans and the planet they call home. ORGANIC PRODUCE REDUCES EXPOSURE TO PESTICIDES AND ANTIBIOTICS. UC Davis Health notes that organic produce has been proven to reduce consumers’ exposure to pesticides and antibiotics. That’s a significant benefit, as pesticide exposure has been shown to lead to neurodevelopmental issues and has been linked to higher cancer risk. Consumers shopping on budgets can pick and choose which

metro creative

organic foods they purchase, as UC Davis Health notes that certain foods have been shown to have higher pesticide residues than others. Apples, celery, grapes, spinach, strawberries, and tomatoes have high levels of pesticide residues, so choosing organic versions of these foods may be a wise choice. Avocados, broccoli, cabbage, and cantaloupe are some of the foods that typically have low levels of pesticide residue. ORGANIC AGRICULTURE REDUCES ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION. The Organic Trade Association notes that synthetic pesticides and fertilizers used on some conventional farms can deplete the soil of valuable nutrients and increase

environmental degradation. Organic farmers do not use such pesticides or fertilizers, instead utilizing such practices as composting, cover cropping and crop rotation, each of which can have positive, long-term effects on soil quality. ORGANIC AGRICULTURE BENEFITS LOCAL WILDLIFE. A 2015 study from researchers in Argentina that was published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment found that small mammals were more abundant around organic farms than conventional farms. That’s not just good for those mammals, but also the farmers, as small mammals can feed on insects that would otherwise adversely affect crops. AgFamilies First Quarter 2021


Clean water

New water plant to see gradual opening in the community writer: TONYA S. GRACE

The new Cadiz Water Treatment Plant is ready for operation and will be introduced gradually in the community as officials bring it online initially in the area surrounding Interstate 24. Cadiz Public Works Director Kerry Fowler said the Kentucky Division of Water has recommended bringing the new plant online gradually to ensure that everything is working properly. Following its introduction around I-24, the plant will next be operational in the Kings Chapel area and on the east side of town, followed lastly in the remaining parts of the county.


AgFamilies First Quarter 2021

Fowler said earlier this week that officials were planning for the new facility to become operational on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

new Cadiz plant will feature membrane filtration, a technique that will do an even better job of cleaning the water.

“We’ve been doing in-house testing for the last three weeks,” the public works director noted. “Everything is very good, actually impressive with what we have seen so far.

While media filtration removes particles 40 to 50 times smaller than the hairs on a human head, Fowler said membrane filtration removes particles 200 times smaller than a human hair.

“All pump testing, equipment testing and water testing has come back great,” he added.

He noted that the new plant will meet any growth the community has for years to come, offers plenty of room and can easily be expanded. It’s capable of producing 2.1 million gallons of water a day and will make hard water and its high mineral content a thing of the past.

Fowler said the new facility replaces the old plant on Spring Street, which utilizes a media filtration system on which 90% of water plants worldwide rely. The

“One of the biggest complaints we have with our current water is (that) it’s very hard,” said Fowler, explaining that officials are looking for water that will be about half as hard. The director also noted that officials are anticipating an economic boost from the plant. “That’s what we feel,” Fowler observed, noting that “if potential industry was to come in, it would have to be appealing to them to look across the street and see a water treatment plant.” Cadiz Mayor Todd King extolled the benefits of the new water system, noting that it’s long overdue and is great for the community and the city to have such a state-of-the-art facility.

off U.S. 68.

“My hat’s off to Kerry,” the mayor added of the public works director and his efforts shepherding the project to completion. “He’s been faithful up there the last two years overseeing it and everything, and I just think it’s great for our community.” Fowler noted that there was still some painting left to do “and some odds and ends” to complete on the new facility, which is located in Industrial Park 3

The Cadiz Water Treatment Plant has about 2,500 customers including households, industry and businesses, and its five employees, the five water treatment plant operators who have been working at the old plant, will move to the new facility, according to the director. Fowler said the old facility will be closed and probably will be dismantled in the near future.

Given the restrictions of COVID-19, he said there will be no grand opening for the new plant, although officials hope to do something in the spring “so the public can see what we’ve got.” The mayor also invited residents to keep watch on the city website at cadiz. for a potential virtual grand opening for the new facility. The plant broke ground in 2018 and cost around $9 million to build.

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Local Expo Agri-business luncheon features awards and tour of expo center writer: TONYA S. GRACE

Standing inside the new expo center at the Christian County Extension Service, Jay Stone considered how supporters wanted to pay for the facility without placing an increased debt on taxpayers.

doors and do a lot of great things here,” Stone told a group of people who toured the expo center following a luncheon of the Christian County AgriBusiness Association at the extension service on Pembroke Road.

The Ag Foundation that owns the extension service’s building and grounds began saving money and had saved $500,000 by the time the project got its first support, a pledge of $100,000 that came from Farm Credit Mid-America.

That luncheon featured Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles and Hilda Legg, the state director of Kentucky USDA Rural Development, who announced the awarding of rural grants totaling $536,549 to 11 local recipients.

The $1.7 to $2 million facility is now nearing completion, and Stone, county manager for the local extension service, said it should soon be fully operational.

Additionally, the Christian County/Hopkinsville Development Corp. will use the $50,000 Rural Business Development Grant it received to help with building improvements and expansion of services at the Hopkinsville-Christian County Family YMCA.

“Hopefully Jan. 1 we are ready to open the

Tom and Tony Folz Farms

5 William & Lynn Garnett Farms

6 Phillip & Marsha Garnett Farms

7 Isom Brothers

8 David Brame

9 Bolinger Family Farms

10 Means and Fort Electric Inc.

11 Calhoun Properties LLC.

AgFamilies First Quarter 2021


Legg said she hoped other people would learn about the USDA grants and be encouraged to apply for those funds. “These small investments can open up big doors to economic growth and opportunities,” she said during the recent luncheon, noting that “the fundamental values of rural Kentucky and all of rural America are truly what make America great.” Legg said Rural Development supports affordable housing, business and community programs. In the past three and a half years, efforts have helped 65 families in Christian County turn houses into homes, she said, provided $226 million for small rural businesses in Kentucky communities and supported community programs for libraries, hospitals, broadband and the like. Legg credited the Trump administration and the efforts of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue with helping rural businesses and communities in Kentucky. Quarles lauded the efforts of farmers in Kentucky and elsewhere in making sure people haven’t gone hungry during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We appreciate what farmers can do here in America despite a pandemic,” he said. “We will make sure no one goes to bed hungry, and that’s because of Kentucky farmers.” Quarles also noted that the pandemic has cast a spotlight on the concept of buying local, with the volume of locally produced food up across the state. He observed that agriculture in Kentucky is organized, something for which he said the state should be thankful; that’s not the case in other states, the ag commissioner said. Quarles lauded Christian County for being “by far, the best organized.” The luncheon also included recognition for David Wayne, who has served as the county executive director of the Farm Service Agency for Christian and Trigg counties. Wayne is leaving his position but says he has enjoyed serving the two communities. “I really have enjoyed my time, and it’s been an honor working with all of you,” he said Tuesday. Stone led several visitors through the new expo center following the agri-business luncheon, and he noted that it is intended to serve the community as well as the needs of agriculture.


AgFamilies First Quarter 2021

Ryan Quarles lauded the efforts of farmers in Kentucky and elsewhere in making sure people haven’t gone hungry during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Farm Bureau donates $1,000 each to four local organizations writer: MICHELE VOWELL

Four local organizations recently received an early Christmas present of $1,000 each from Christian County Farm Bureau Association to help feed people in need during the coronavirus pandemic. Representatives from the Salvation Army, Aaron McNeil House, Impact Ministry and Micah Mission collected their organization’s checks recently at Farm Bureau’s Burley Avenue location. “Especially this time of the year and with the pandemic, it is very important to help out the local community,” said J.E. Pryor, farm bureau president. “I know there are many people out there who are suffering because of the pandemic. We want to try to help as many as we can.” Pryor said the Farm Bureau board decided to earmark the money normally spent for the summer annual meeting at the Western Kentucky State Fair to use for the donations. The annual meeting was canceled because of the pandemic. “We decided to take the money … and give that to the community,” he said. “This was our first year, but we might continue to do something like this in the future.”


AgFamilies First Quarter 2021

Pryor said the four recipient organizations stood out among dozens in the area. “We felt like these were the four that helped the most people in our community,” he said. “By giving them money we just wanted to make sure everybody has a warm meal.” Alisa Barton, Salvation Army director of social services, said their donation will be used to fund the soup kitchen. The Salvation Army, located at 304 E. Seventh St., serves between 100-125 people daily.

incurred an increase in cost for packaging for the carry-out meals. “It’s a great blessing to get that kind of donation with the extra expense that we have,” she said. Tamara Hunter, Aaron McNeil House administrative assistant, said the holidays and the pandemic have been difficult for many people this year.

from school and some have been laid off from work or work from home and they have to make their food dollars or utility money stretch. She said the Farm Bureau donation will help Aaron McNeil to help these families. “We are just overwhelmed by the generosity of this community,” she said. “This community has been so giving.”

“The holidays are difficult for people in general,” she said. “Then, you pile the pandemic on top of it, it’s just a lot for folks.”

Arlene Miller, Impact Ministry director, said each week, families register and drivethru to pick up bags of groceries at 513 W. Ninth St. during food distribution days.

“The soup kitchen serves three meals a day every day no matter what day of the year,” she said.

Hunter said the Aaron McNeil House tries to help people in need to get through these tough times.

“We served close to 49,000 meals last year,” Barton added. “Right now with us having to do to-go meals we’re still serving the same numbers we always have, we’re just having to do it a different way.”

“Three bags of our food items equate to about $50, so if you double that it helps to ensure that a family of one to three individuals can feed their family for up to two weeks,” she said.

Since the pandemic started in March, Miller said the number of low-income families Impact Ministry serve has doubled. Currently, they are feeding between 80-150 families each week.

Barton said the Salvation Army has

Hunter noted that people are home

“Many are in this situation and asking for help at this time because of lack of income because of the virus (pandemic),” she said.

AgFamilies First Quarter 2021


Miller noted the Farm Bureau donation will enable Impact Ministry to do a little extra to help local families. “We’re spending $3,000 a month for food to give away, their $1,000 is certainly going to help,” she said. “It means that we can give more. We can add extra stuff with this extra donation.” Mike Pyle, Micah Mission chairman of the board, said before the pandemic, the organization served in-house meals four days a week. That service has been suspended temporarily. “We’ll be glad to get back to in-house feeding where we can provide some spiritual motivation for some of the people that are hurting and that have problems,” he said. Meanwhile, every other Tuesday Micah Mission provides meat, canned vegetables, pastries and bread to those in need. Pyle said the donation from Farm Bureau will help them continue this service at 209 S. Main St. “This will go a long way in buying canned goods,” Pyle said of the donation. “This will bring a lot of help to a lot of people.”


AgFamilies First Quarter 2021

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AgFamilies First Quarter 2021


Vertical Wellness hemp plant in Cadiz has reached an agreement with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet to temporarily reopen its plant while it works to rectify failures to follow state regulations. Earlier in the year, Trigg County residents informed the cabinet that they believed the plant, located at 134 Roger Thomas Road, was not operating within the state’s environmental guidelines. The cabinet reported that since March 30, it had received 22 complaints from 10 different citizens. Court records obtained by the New Era shed more light on the story. On Nov. 10, the Energy and Environment Cabinet filed an order to discontinue, abate and alleviate against the hemp plant, effectively shutting down the plant. The order found three areas of wrongdoing by the plant.

OPERATION WITHOUT A PERMIT The plant was accused of operating without proper permits. According to court documents, around April 1, representatives of the cabinet’s Division for Air Quality inspected the Vertical Wellness site in response to claims that the site had “a smoke stack emitting a burning smell.” The state representatives found a white plume emanating from a stack, and that the plant was operating without a permit or registration for the emission. “… an employee of Vertical Wellness admitted that the site was constructed in December 2019 and had been operating since February 2020,” the court records state.

Hemp is back Vertical Wellness reaches agreement with state, violations laid out in court documents writers: MICHELE VOWELL & JON RUSSELBURG


AgFamilies First Quarter 2021

The records go on to say the plant constructed and continues to construct additional emissions units prior to submitting a registration application or obtaining a permit. Both of those actions are violations of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations. The records state that the violations endanger the health and welfare of the people of the commonwealth. From July 20 to Oct. 22, the plant increased its production throughput by 500%, from around 20,000 pounds per day

to 100,000 pounds per day. The records indicate that the plant did not have proper permits for the increase. At the time of the order’s filing, the plant’s most recent permit application allowed the plant to process 96,000 pounds per day. The records state, “the frequency of complaints regarding the odor of emissions emanating from the site has increased proportionately with the increased unpermitted operation and throughput at the site.”

VIOLATION OF THE SECONDARY AMBIENT AIR QUALITY STANDARD Around Sept. 15, a representative of the DAQ again inspected the plant in response to complaints of fumes emitting from smoke stacks. When one volume of ambient air — air from the plant — was mixed with seven volumes of odorless air, there was a detectable hemp odor, violating KAR statutes. Around Oct. 15, another representative of DAQ found the same violations. On Oct. 21, DAQ issued a Notice of Violation, requiring the plant to implement a corrective action plan and submit a written response within 15 days. The plant failed to meet the demands.

VIOLATION OF THE PARTICULATE MATTER STANDARD Around Oct. 22, a DAQ representative again inspected the site in response to the 22 odor complaints. The representative observed continuous emissions with an opacity of 33.9%. The law only allows an opacity of 20% for particulate matter. Court records state that Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman judged Vertical Wellness “is causing, engaging in, or maintaining a condition or activity which presents a danger to the health or welfare of the people of the state and results in or is likely to result in damage to natural resources …” The plant was shut down on Nov. 10. After a hearing last Thursday, the plant and state began to negotiate on a plan of action.

The two parties filed an agreed order Monday to reopen the plant.

CORRECTIVE ACTION PLAN Under the order, Vertical Wellness agreed to operate the facility under strict accordance with a corrective action plan that was approved Friday by the cabinet. The Nov. 10 order has been suspended, but can be reinstated if the cabinet finds the plant is not following the plan. In the short term, the plant must limit its production throughput. The plant cannot produce more than 96,000 pounds per day, or two tons. The plant must also operate its hemp dryers based on recommendations from the dryer’s manufacturers. The facility is not allowed to operate its dryers at a temperature that exceeds the manufacturers recommendations. The plant must only produce air emissions between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The plant is not allowed to engage in any operations that produce air emissions on Saturdays or Sundays. The plan also gives long term actions Vertical Wellness must follow. In the next seven days, the plant must retain an independent environmental consultant to verify the air permit application that it currently has pending before the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. If the consultant finds any incomplete areas in the application, the plant must promptly identify the issue with KDEP. The plant must also install KDEPapproved control devices “to address odors and opacity emissions from the process no later than March 2, 2021.” The plant will not be awarded a final permit until it verifies the composition of its emissions. Vertical Wellness must provide KDEP with the results of its emissions assessment 45 days after its testing is complete. “EEC is hopeful that the measures required will address the violations noted in the Abate and Alleviate Order. The Abate and Alleviate Order will be held in abeyance and can be reinstated if the EEC

finds that Vertical Wellness’s operation poses a danger to human health or welfare,” according to a cabinet statement issued Monday. “Consultants to the company are on site to review the process to determine what needs to be done to address odor and other emissions from the facility.”

ADDRESSING THE VIOLATIONS Drew Milburn, Vertical Wellness chief operating officer, said the company is pleased to be working with the state to remedy any areas of wrongdoing as outlined by the cabinet. “We’re very happy that the cabinet is working with us to resolve the issues,” Milburn said in a phone interview Monday night. “We want to reiterate to the general public that we are working diligently to address any of their concerns. Their concerns have never fallen on deaf ears no matter what.” Over the past few months, Milburn said the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the permitting process, as well as working with engineers to remedy the violations. “We did adjust our permit and were in the process while this was all happening,” he said. “Any time that we were notified that we needed to do something, we made every effort to make sure that happened.” Although the plant shut down Nov. 10, Milburn noted that Vertical Wellness has continued to receive odor complaints from the community. “In some cases we feel that people are looking for something to find even when it’s clear that we haven’t been operating,” he said. Milburn said the concerns of the state and Trigg County citizens have been a top priority for the company. “It’s always been our intention to be a good neighbor and to be a good corporate citizen,” he said. “We feel we will continue to do that. Our intentions were always to be respectful to both the government and to our neighbors. None of that has changed for us. “The community should expect us to meet the state’s standards and then some,” Milburn added.

AgFamilies First Quarter 2021


Casey Jones Distillery ships first batch of online sales writer: JON RUSSELBURG


AgFamilies First Quarter 2021

Thanks to a bill passed in March, Casey Jones Distillery shipped its first bottles of spirits from online sales this week. House Bill 415 officially became law in Kentucky on July 15, 2020. According to a press release, HB 415 “streamlines direct-to-consumer shipping by alcohol producers.” The previous law, HB 400, required in-person transactions. The new law eliminates that requirement, allowing craft distilleries to sell their products online. Although the bill became law in July, it took time for for the Kentucky Department of Alcohol Beverage Control to give final approval on the direct-shipper license. The final approval was given Monday. Casey Jones launched its website Tuesday. By Wednesday

morning, the distillery was already boxing up sales and shipping them through UPS. The distillery is still limited in where it can ship its alcohol products. Currently, the distillery can only ship to wet districts in Kentucky, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. “The next step, with more licensing, they will be able to ship to Arizona, Hawaii, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Rhode Island,” the distillery said in a statement. “This is the start, as work is being done for shipping into other states.” Each states use specific online sales software to ensure that recipients are at least 21 years old. The distillery also sells nonspirit items such as apparel and sanitizer. For more information, go to

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COVID-19 cuts Ky Hemp Works business ‘in half’ writer: AVERY SEEGER


AgFamilies First Quarter 2021

Just as many small local businesses have faced hardships and losses due to COVID19, Kentucky Hemp Works in Crofton is also feeling the effects of the pandemic as the business relies largely on “mom and pop” shops. Hemp Works Owner Katie Moyer shared with the New Era that her business is taking a hit because of the virus as the sales of hemp products largely rely on small local businesses who put the products on their shelves. “Most of our customer base is mom-andpop, brick-and-mortar stores or pharmacies or doctor’s offices and they have struggled,” Moyer said. “If they shut down then their business goes to zero then so does ours.

••• “So, our small retail businesses have really taken a big hit and that’s hard for us.” Moyer also shared that she estimates that business has been “cut in half” because of the effects of the pandemic. However, Moyer said Hemp Works has been lucky enough to not have to cut its hours or furlough any of its employees this year. “Since the demand went down, we’ve been able to put our hours into other and new things, but we’ve managed to get through 2020 without cutting hours or laying anybody off,” Moyer said. “As long as the employees are getting fed, I’m OK.” While Moyer said the small businesses she works with are struggling and in turn, affecting her business causing retail demand to drop, the demand for hemp products in general hasn’t changed since the start of the pandemic. Moyer stated that instead, the demand for hemp has actually steadily been growing. As Moyer referred to, Kentucky Hemp Works sells its products to small local businesses who then sell those products from their shelves. However, Hemp Works did see a positive trend in two areas that has kept it going through the pandemic: online sales and pharmacy sales. Moyer shared that online sales have seen a gradual increase and pharmacies have kept steady as those businesses never had to close due to COVID guidelines put in place by Gov. Andy Beshear. “Online orders have kept us going through

all of this and the pharmacies, because they were never really shut down — even some of the doctor’s offices that carry our stuff had been shut down,” Moyer said. “Online is definitely trending in a good way, but we also spend a lot of time still encouraging people to shop with their local stores.”

••• The farming aspect of the hemp business also seems to be doing fine, Moyer said as farmers are able to stay safe while they work. “I don’t think things have changed an awful lot on the farm besides the added safety measures,” she said. Moyer explained that at this time of the year, there are only a few farmers working at a time and it is easy for them to social distance and stay safe from exposure. However, during different seasons that may change. “I think also that at different times of the year, we might see if labor is going to have to change, like during harvest time and things like that,” Moyer said. “But, that’s going to be for tobacco and everything else too.” While Hemp Works has seen business cut in half, Moyer shared that moving forward, she will take a lot of what she’s learned through this year to improve on the way Hemp Works does business. “So, taking additional safety precautions, making sure that we’re keeping our hands and our faces and things like that clean, these are all things that should be normal, but maybe this has served to highlight some

of those things,” Moyer said. “That’s definitely something that we will be doing forever and just additional things on top of what is required to do by the government. We have ways to make our processes better than the standard.” She continued to say that a priority of Hemp Works has always been educating the public on hemp and its benefits. Moyer added that in light of the pandemic, that priority is even bigger now than it has ever been and she and her business will continue to push for that. Despite the hardships and losses suffered through the pandemic, Moyer said one of the positive things that has come out of it is that people are now paying greater attention to their personal health. “People are starting to take their health more seriously and in the health-food industry — because we’re not just talking about CBD, we’re also talking about omegas, proteins, fiber and taking care of your digestive tract — I think people are getting a lot more interested in starting to grow their own food and eat healthier and take better care of themselves,” Moyer said. “I think for all the bad that we’ve seen, I think there’s a lot of people who are using this as a chance to rise up above all of the negativity that’s happened this year.” Moyer also said that if her business and employees can make it through 2020, they’ll be able to tackle anything. “The way I see it and what I’ve been telling my team all year is, if we can get through 2020, we can get through anything,” Moyer said. AgFamilies First Quarter 2021



AgFamilies First Quarter 2021

The impact of shopping local from: METRO CREATIVE

Shopping at locally owned businesses benefits everyone from local business owners to the people they employ to the communities where they operate. As beneficial as shopping local can be for small business owners and the communities where they operate, the planet is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of consumers supporting locally owned small businesses. The environmental impact of purchasing locally manufactured and sold products is significant. Consumers who choose to use their purchasing power to support local businesses may not realize just how much they’re helping the planet in so doing. SHOPPING LOCAL REDUCES YOUR “FOOD MILES.” Large grocery stores get much of their inventory from producers in other countries. Even stores that rely heavily on domestic producers may not limit their domestic partners to local farms. That means products may be traveling

thousands of miles before they end up on the shelves in local grocery stores. This is often referred to as “food miles,” and the more consumers can reduce their food miles, the more they help the planet. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions notes that transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States, so anything consumers can do to reduce the amount of fuel needed to get food from farm to table can greatly benefit the planet. Shopping local grocers who source their foods from local farms is a simple and effective way to help the planet. SHOPPING LOCAL CONSERVES FUEL. Much like shopping local reduces reliance on producers who must travel thousands of miles to get their products on shelves in your community, it also reduces the time consumers spend in their vehicles. That conserves fuel and helps to reduce air pollution. That’s an easily overlooked benefit of shopping local, but one that

should not be taken for granted. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, an estimated 150 million Americans are living in areas that do not meet federal air quality standards. Emissions from automobiles are a major source of the pollution that’s behind poor air quality, so anything consumers can do to reduce their fuel consumption, including shopping locally, can greatly benefit the planet. SHOPPING LOCAL PROTECTS LAND FROM DEVELOPERS. Another way shopping local benefits the planet is its link to preserving local farms. When local grocers get their foods from local farms, that increases the long-term sustainability of those farms. If farms are sustainable, they’re more likely to remain in operation. Farms don’t just grow foods, they also provide habitats for local wildlife that helps maintain local ecosystems. That domino effect begins with consumers who support local businesses by shopping local.

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The role of technology in the agriculture world from: METRO CREATIVE

When asked to think of industries that utilize technology in unique ways, few people may immediately think of agriculture. But technology has left a significant footprint in every industry, and the agricultural sector is no exception. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture notes that modern farms operate a lot differently than the farms of yesteryear. Dramatic changes have taken place within the agricultural industry over the last few decades, helping farming operations become more efficient and profitable as well as safer and more ecofriendly. Robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images, and GPS technologies are now routinely employed within the agricultural industry. The NIFA notes that the value of such technologies cannot be understated. Thanks to the technologies at their disposals, farmers no longer have to uniformly apply water, fertilizer and pesticides to their farms. Technology

now allows them to use only the minimum amounts required as they zero in on individual plants and target specific areas of their farms. The NIFA notes that the utilization of these technologies produces some very real benefits, including: • Higher crop productivity • Reduced impact on natural ecosystems • Less runoff of chemicals into rivers and groundwater • Increased worker safety Safer, more efficient and more eco-friendly operations can only make the agricultural industry more successful in the decades to come. That’s especially notable as the world continues to confront climate change and how it might affect the food supply. Though few may recognize the role of technology in modern farming, there’s no denying the impact that various technologies have already had on the agricultural industry. And that impact figures to become even more profound in the decades to come.

AgFamilies First Quarter 2021


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