One of the best parts about my job is that I have a huge extended family of farmers and farm business folk, and I see them regularly at farm events. The first week in December always brings the largest crowd of Kentucky farmers to my hometown for the Kentucky Farm Bureau annual meeting; Louisville is definitely the place to see the "Who's Who in Kentucky Agriculture."
I got my camera out for a few shots of "very important people" in the farm world so I could introduce them to you. I honestly could have taken a photo of everyone there as they all have an important role in making our industry strong and successful.
Meet James Comer, our current (2012-2015) Commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. He and his talented staff are taking the industry in a fabulous direction. From the Kentucky Proud marketing program to consumer protection, he is working to cut spending, increase transparency and give more opportunities to Kentucky farmers. Thank you, Commissioner Comer.
My husband said the next few photos were a little too "up close and personal" but I call all of these folks my very good friends.
1) Kenneth Hayden is a grain farmer in Hardin County. He was one of the first farmers I met when I started my career with the Corn Growers 15 years ago. He is an active part of the local, state, national and international farm community. He has been to many countries with the U.S. Grains Council working to expand trade markets and improve grain production world-wide. Kenneth has also served as a mentor to many young farmers in Kentucky.
2) I am so proud to know Terry Gilbert, an inspiration to farm women everywhere. She farms in Danville, Ky. (beef cattle and grain) and previously worked as a registered nurse. Terry has been the Chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation's Women's Committee for 12 years, while serving leadership positions on her county and state Farm Bureaus. The 10-member AFBF Women's Committee oversees women’s leadership activities among the 3,000-plus counties and 50 state Farm Bureau organizations. Terry is a past president of the Kentucky Women in Agriculture Association.
3) Dan Flanagan is a grain, tobacco, poultry and vegetable farmer in Campbellsville, Ky. He is the current chair of the Kentucky Ag Council, vice chair of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and has held several positions in state government, including deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. He holds degrees from the University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Campbellsville University. Did I also mention he was an absolute pleasure to work with on my educational video series? My daughter loved learning about his farm and chickens and made a new friend.
Since this is a Farm Bureau meeting, you may think all of these people are just a "bunch of farmers," but the truth is, they are your civic leaders. They serve on school boards, rural electric co-ops, emergency and fire departments, local, district, state and federal governments. If they have jobs off the farm, they are also our teachers, our pastors, our health care providers, and insurance agents. Farmers do so much more than grow food, they grow communities. And I am honored to be surrounded by the "Who's Who in Kentucky Agriculture."
See the Kentucky Farm Bureau Newsroom for the latest annual meeting and Kentucky farm industry coverage.