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Commentary on life in Kentucky

By wmadministrator

Keeneland Yearling Sale Biggest Thing in Kentucky Agriculture
There can be no mistake, Kentucky’s biggest crop is horses. The Keeneland September Yearling Sale this year reaffirmed equine’s position as the main breadwinner in state agribusiness. The 14-day sale raked in more than $385 million, which is almost 10 percent of all annual agriculture cash receipts in the commonwealth.

It’s huge.

And a lot of it is new money coming into the Kentucky economy. A weak U.S. dollar spurred more foreign participation. Buyers from 29 foreign countries participated in this year’s sale. The leading buyers were again Coolmore Stud of Ireland and Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, but Keeneland sales officials were very pleased to see a big jump in buying by various Europeans as well as more activity from Central and South America.

“The September Sale remains the world’s barometer of the Thoroughbred yearling market,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “This year’s sale was exceptionally strong, and its performance even more impressive than last year’s record sale (totaling $399 million). Buyers and consignors have commented throughout that it had a more enthusiastic feel to it than even last year. We agree, given the positive indicators we saw – keen competition among buyers into the last days of the sale, strong domestic interest, greater spending by the Europeans, active buying from pinhookers, and a good mix of horsemen from around the world.”

Kentucky remains the world’s top source of horses.
Demi O’Byrne, on behalf of John Magnier and Coolmore Stud, made the biggest winning bid to acquire the sale topper, a colt by Unbridled’s Song, for $3.7 million. Lane’s End Farm consigned the yearling.

For all of 2006, the equine category in Kentucky agriculture produced receipts of $1.11 billion, which was 27.7 percent of all farm products. In final numbers released a month ago by the state field office of the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service, all commodities totaled $4.007 billion.
Sales of horses, including stud fees, continued to the leading cash receipt item for farmers in the commonwealth in 2006, increasing $100 million from 2005. All poultry (broilers, eggs and other poultry) continued second with $710.7 million, down 13 percent from a year earlier. Cattle and calves were third at $607.7 million, a 7 percent increase. Kentucky ranks third nationally in beef production.

Another agriculture trend point that emerges from the 2006 figures is that corn ($339 million) moved ahead of both tobacco ($319 million) and soybeans ($325 million).

All livestock products made up 68 percent of Kentucky’s ag cash receipts. Crops made up 32 percent.

Black Brigade of Cincinnati Made Kentucky History, Too

To the editor:

I very much enjoyed Katherine Tandy Brown’s article, “Kentucky’s Road to Freedom,” in the September 2007 Equine Issue on page 56, including the “Take a Roots Tour” box at the end of the article that informs readers of opportunities to learn more about the role of African Americans in the Civil War in Kentucky.

To that, I would like to add one additional stop for such visitors regarding the Black Brigade of Cincinnati. These African Americans were pressed into service to help defend northern Kentucky and Cincinnati during August and September 1862 when Brig. Gen. Henry Heth’s Confederate invasion force of 5,000 troops entered Northern Kentucky intent on invading Cincinnati. The story of the Black Brigade is told at the City of Fort Wright’s James A. Ramage Civil War Museum in Fort Wright, Ky., about three miles from Cincinnati and just off I-75.

There is a good description of the Black Brigade’s story as well as other interesting information about this unit and some of its members online. Visit our Web site at  www.fortwright.com and click on the “Civil War Museum” link on the left side of the page.

I am sending this to make sure your readers who want to learn more about the role of African Americans during the Civil War, especially in Kentucky, are aware of what our museum has to offer. Please feel free to visit www.fortwright.com for additional information about the museum.

Larry Klein
Chief Administrative Officer
City of Fort Wright, Kentucky

Valhalla Golf Course to Host Ryder Cup
Excitement  about the 2008 Ryder Cup is revving up in Louisville as ticket sales begin and locals and international tourists start making plans to attend the September event.

The Ryder Cup event will receive international television coverage and is estimated to have a $115 million economic impact on the Kentucky economy.

The event features 12 American golfers competing against 12 top European players.

To apply for and purchase Ryder Cup tickets, visit www.rydercup.com or call (800) 742-4653.

Zoning Oops!
A recent vote of the Versailles City Council (5-1) approved changing from retail business to A-1 agricultural the zoning of a 23-acre lot on U.S. 60.  The property’s owner, Rubloff Versailles LLC of Rockford, Ill., was alleged to have caused “blight” on the bypass property because construction of a new retail center the developer planned had not commenced.

Downzoning the property by the unilateral action of the City of Versailles will likely be construed as a taking of value from the current property owner.

The City of Versailles could be liable for the diminution of value caused by the council’s action and in such case the city would have to reimburse Rubloff for the change in the property’s value due to the rezoning (market value for retail business use versus agricultural use).  To complicate the issue, the property is collateral for a loan to the developer from a local bank.  Rezoning has reduced the value of the collateral and the bank may become involved in the downzoning issue.  Versailles will also receive less real estate tax for the property since agriculturally zoned land is obviously assessed at a substantially lower value per acre.

Less real property taxes will be collected; litigation fees and a judgment for taking the owner’s property by downzoning could be costly.  The Versailles City Council has made a big oops that will be costly to local taxpayers.

Tourism Means Big Business
State government has plans to rename the Commerce Cabinet. At the urging of several agency, department and cabinet heads, Gov. Ernie Fletcher will ask the legislature to change the title in the 2008 session to the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

In large part this is recognition of the fact that tourism is now a $10 billion industry in Kentucky. The commonwealth is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and the rest of the nation and world is beginning to realize this, too. The Fletcher administration has put effort into developing and managing the Kentucky “brand” and it’s literally paying off. The “Unbridled Spirit” brand already has a 45 percent name recognition among non-state residents after only three years. The cabinet name change reflects the understanding that continued efforts will keep the state’s tourism business growing.

“The governor and I believe this new name is a much better description of the cabinet and our mission,” said George Ward, secretary of the Commerce Cabinet.

In most states, “commerce” agency activities relate to banking and incentives for manufacturers, high-tech facilities and corporate relations. Officials at Kentucky’s Cabinet for Economic Development have expressed concern about confusion.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Tourism, Arts and Heritage includes the following agencies: Kentucky Department of Tourism, Kentucky Department of Parks, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky Humanities Council, Kentucky State Fair Board, Kentucky Sports Authority, Kentucky Heritage Council, Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, Frankfort Convention Complex, Governor’s School for the Arts, Kentucky Artisans Center in Berea, Kentucky Arts Council, Kentucky Horse Park and the Office of Creative Services.

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