FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 6, 2014) — Experts from throughout the nation will meet in Lexington in October for the first nationwide conference focused on farming, land use and food policy. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer joined former Gov. and First Lady Brereton and Libby Jones; officials of American Farmland Trust; and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray to announce the national event in a news conference Tuesday in the Kentucky Capitol.
“We are thrilled that American Farmland Trust has chosen Kentucky as the site of this national conference,” Comer said. “The leaders and experts at this conference will take on some of the defining issues of the 21st century — food production, food safety, hunger, and balancing the need to protect the environment with the need to provide a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply to a growing global population. As a state with a rich agricultural heritage and a diverse agriculture industry, Kentucky will lead the way in meeting these challenges.”
“This is the first time a national conference will bring together these diverse interests to comprehensively address the 21st century challenges of agriculture,” said Andrew McElwaine, president and CEO of AFT. “The conference will encourage greater understanding and collaboration to support agricultural viability and vibrant community food systems.”
“AFT began its relationship with state government in Kentucky during the Jones administration. They provided excellent technical assistance and valuable support, which led to the establishment of several public and private farmland protection entities. Since then, these groups have permanently protected more than 70,000 acres across the commonwealth,” said Libby Jones, a member of the AFT Board. “We are very excited the Trust is returning to Kentucky to lead this important conference, where we can all share our experiences, learn from each other, and be able to make even greater progress in the future.”
The conference programs will address four principal themes:
• Ensuring high quality farmland is available and affordable for agriculture;
• Supporting agricultural viability and a fair and just food system;
• Creating opportunities for the next generation of farmers; and
• Addressing emerging issues for women in agriculture.
A Kentucky Proud opening reception will give participants a chance to network and experience local fare from local farms, food enterprises and distilleries.
Other conference highlights include:
• Farm tour to showcase Fayette County’s world-renowned farms in its Rural Services Area and demonstrate the value of its land use planning and farmland protection efforts.
• Mobile workshops to give participants a taste of urban agriculture and innovative local food enterprises in Louisville and Lexington, highlighting the value of these cities’ proactive plans and policies.
• Farmer-Chef Connection banquet to celebrate the farmers who have permanently protected their farmland and showcase the region’s seasonal bounty from local producers.
For more information on the conference, visit farmland.org. Information on conference sponsorships is available by contacting Susan Sink, vice president of development and external affairs, AFT, at (202) 378-1206 or [email protected].
The American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.