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Fayette Alliance Director Responds to BizLex’s Burning Question

Brookfield Farm | Photo by Dave Traxler

Burning Question: With the future of a $5 billion agriculture industry at stake, what needs to be done to keep it sustainable?

by Knox van Nagell, 3.28.12, BizLex.com

Since 2006, The Fayette Alliance has worked with city hall to usher over 50 major land-use policies into law that further sustainable growth in Lexington. By supporting farmland preservation and agriculture, responsible development and improved infrastructure, Lexington can leverage its built and natural environments to become a world-class city, in a world-class landscape.

We’ve taken this approach because, in our view, farmland preservation and growth are not “either/or” propositions. Rather, they’re essential partners in Lexington’s quest for economic greatness, cultural attractiveness and environmental security. Growing responsibly is our biggest calling card — as 70 percent of workers today pick city first and job second.

A balanced and sustainable growth strategy requires us to promote our endangered farmland and Bluegrass brand on one hand, while building a city that is unique, rich in amenities, and compelling to both Lexingtonians and visitors on the other.
This is a difficult undertaking that requires a big-picture, balanced approach. No longer can we rely on the old “Growth is Good” vs. “Growth Destroys Bluegrass Forever” debate, in which our city is pitted against our farms. Under this framework, we all lose.

We must adjust the scope of our lens, elevate the “growth” dialogue, and recognize that the building blocks of our city impact the health and vitality of our precious Bluegrass soils, and “factory floor” of our signature $5 billion agricultural industries — and vice-versa.

To that end, both farmland preservation and growth are essential to Lexington’s future. If effectively balanced, we all benefit — from those of us living in the city, to those of us working on our farms… Read the whole article at BizLex.com

Additional responses:

James Comer, Kentucky commissioner of agriculture:

First, we have good news to share. Cash receipts to Kentucky farmers exceeded $5 billion for the first time in 2011. Some of our success can be attributed to large-scale outside forces, such as increasing exports and greater demand for row crops. Other positive developments include the rapid growth of Kentucky’s poultry industry and the investment of more than $360 million of tobacco settlement funds into agricultural diversification projects. Credit goes to Kentucky’s smart and innovative farmers, who moved quickly to diversify their operations. One of our greatest achievements at the Department of Agriculture is the Kentucky Proud farm marketing program, which helps find new markets for Kentucky producers and businesses that grow, raise or process farm products… Read more at BizLex.com

John Mahan, owner, Mahan Farms & SodWorks:

This is a very exciting time to be involved in Kentucky agriculture. Having just experienced a year of high commodity prices coupled with high yields, Kentucky has topped the $5 billion mark of agriculture sales. To keep Kentucky agriculture sustainable, we must first consider the land on which our food is produced. Conserving our prime farmland through proper planned growth of our towns and cities is of upmost importance. By 2050, the world population is expected to reach 9 billion. With this increasingly growing population and a need for food and shelter, there must be a balance of land being taken out of productivity and used for development… read more at BizLex.com