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Louisa-Lawrence Co, KY

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Date: 07-21-2017

Beekeepers call for revision of Kentucky Proud requirements

Kentucky beekeepers are becoming some of the loudest critics of a program aimed at promoting Kentucky products. The Kentucky Proud label that has been promoted for the past several years is misleading to consumers, they say, but it could take changing the law to ease their concerns.

“What’s happening is most people aren’t aware — and we want to make them aware — that just because it says Kentucky Proud does not mean that the product is from Kentucky,” said Susan Zhunga, a beekeeper from Cox’s Creek.

Zhunga serves as treasurer of the Nelson County Beekeepers, and said the membership requirements are something honey producers in the county and across the state have really taken issue with.

The application for Kentucky Proud states, “membership is limited to those who produce or directly serve in a marketing capacity of Kentucky-grown agriculture products.” But the law defines a Kentucky-grown agriculture product as any agriculture product grown, raised, produced, processed or manufactured in Kentucky.

It is the “processed or manufactured” phrasing that has some locals on edge, believing an individual or company could potentially bring in a product, such as honey, from another state or country, process it in Kentucky and have a Kentucky Proud eligible product.

Rick Sutton, president of the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association, said part of the issue is that allowing out-of-state honey to be labeled as Kentucky Proud introduces more competition in an already competitive market for local beekeepers.

“We make as good of honey as anywhere in the country, but production is lower and it costs more to produce it here,” Sutton said. “It really puts the Kentucky beekeeper at a disadvantage.”

Another issue Sutton sees with allowing out-of-state honey is that many consumers look to purchase local honey to potentially ease their seasonal allergies.

“They think if they eat Kentucky Proud honey, they are eating Kentucky honey,” when that’s not always the case, he said.

It’s that misconception that has sparked a call for change from locals.

“We work so hard to get honey here in Kentucky, and then to have somebody come along, bring in a barrel from Canada, Taiwan or Vietnam and bottle it and then compare it to Kentucky Proud, it’s upsetting,” Zhunga said.

But getting the changes they want is going to mean working closely with the state’s Department of Agriculture and legislators.

“I met with the State Beekeepers Association back on the first Saturday in June, and from that, they decided to create a small group to work on this issue and other small legislative issues,” beekeepers want to address, said Keith Rogers, chief of staff for Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.

Sutton and a few other beekeepers from around the state are taking part in that group, which met Monday, to discuss Kentucky Proud definitions and look at “laying some groundwork” to make changes to the program.

“There are some things going on and some conversations taking place,” Rogers said. “Exactly what type of changes and policy come of this, it’s too early to know.”

While the requirements are upsetting beekeepers, Rogers said the definitions are not just for honey, but for all products, and other agriculture groups have raised the issue previously.

Last year, the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper, The Kentucky Kernel, wrote about concerns with the program when Aramark included Coca-Cola in its “local purchases” to meet a $1.2 million quota for Kentucky Proud products.

At the time, John-Mark Hack, executive director of the Local Food Association, was critical of Kentucky Proud and cited membership of companies like Coca-Cola as part of the problem, according to The Kentucky Kernel’s article from 2016.

But agriculture leaders noticed the issue long before that article published. A 2007-2014 evaluation of Agricultural Development Board investments cited concerns when it came to a lack of Kentucky-grown ingredients and the discrepancy between Kentucky-grown and Kentucky-processed.

That same summary recommended creating a rating system that would identify products born, raised, processed and marketed by a Kentucky company with four stars, while a product made in Kentucky, but not with in-state ingredients, would receive one star.

Seeing such as system created — particularly for honey — is something Sutton says could be included in what his group brings before the state.

“It would be under Kentucky Proud, but it may say ‘Kentucky certified honey,’” and producers would have to show proof of hives, location and possibly do a pollen analysis to receive that certification. “We are looking at a couple of other states that have that certified honey.”

Sutton said his group plans to meet again in August.

If legislative changes need to be introduced to the General Assembly, Rogers said, there is a possibility that could be done in January.

Until those changes can be made, however, locals want consumers in Kentucky to take a closer look at the products they buy.

“If they are picking up something stamped Kentucky Proud, they need to know where it’s coming from,” Zhunga said. “You need to ask the question, ‘Is this product truly from Kentucky?’ ”

By Kacie Goode
The Kentucky Standard


Dr. Sherry Zylka takes over Oct. 1

Dr. Sherry ZylkaDr. Sherry ZylkaVersailles, Ky. – Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) President Jay K. Box announced today the appointment of Dr. Sherry Zylka as president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College.

Zylka currently is provost of Wayne County Community College District in Detroit. She’s served in various higher education leadership positions including dean of College Centers and Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Schoolcraft College in Livonia and Garden City, Michigan.

“Dr. Zylka’s background has made her a good fit for this position,” Box said. “Her extensive higher ed experience will be a great asset for the college and the community.”

Zykla earned an Ed.D. from the University of Texas at Austin specializing in higher education administration, community college leadership program. She earned a master’s degree in education administration from Eastern Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Michigan. She also earned two associate degrees from Schoolcraft College.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Dr. Zylka to Big Sandy Community and Technical College,” Board Chair Karen Sellers said. “She brings a true passion for student success, and we are confident she will embrace our communities.”

Zylka begins her duties as BSCTC president on October 1.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College,” Zylka said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the students, faculty and staff, and learn more about our community and workforce partners.”

Mary Hemlepp – (859) 256-3330, (859) 753-8310, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Shale-gas boom leads to plastic-pellet plants, but Appalachian infrastructure is lacking

July 20, 2017 

Appalachian states are poised to capitalize on the world’s growing appetite for plastics, not only with shale gas and oil drilling, but with plants called “crackers” that turn natural gas byproducts into usable plastic pellets for manufacturers, Tom DiChristopher of CNBC reports.

Northern Appalachian states such as Pennsylvania and New York have large shale-gas deposits and are already profiting from drilling, but the petrochemicals boom has triggered increased investment in crackers.

A planned cracker plant in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. (Royal Dutch Shell rendering)A planned cracker plant in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. (Royal Dutch Shell rendering)

“Since 2010, 301 chemical industry projects worth $181 billion have been announced in the United States,” writes DiChristopher.

Appalachia saw $16 billion of that, but states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia could bring the region an even bigger slice of the pie.

Royal Dutch Shell will begin building a cracker plant next year along the Ohio River in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, next year. The project will create about 6,000 construction jobs and 600 permanent positions. A Thai petrochemical company, PTT, is considering building another such facility in economically distressed Belmont County, Ohio.

Cracker plants are used because because plastic pellets are much easier to transport than raw petrochemicals, a critical factor since much of the output from cracker plants will be exported.

But because of a lack of infrastructure, investors may be hesitant to locate crackers in much of Appalachia. The American Chemistry Council said that they’re unsure how a transportation-and-storage hub in Appalachia could be created.

“It’s something of a chicken-and-egg situation: The region needs infrastructure to attract petrochemical facilities, but it’s hard to get financing for infrastructure without the facilities,” DiChristopher writes.