Clay County Comprehensive Plan for Agriculture

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1 Clay County Comprehensive Plan for Agriculture I. Overview of Clay County The physical structure of Clay County is located in Southeast, Kentucky in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The 301,300 acres of land is 62% forested; 77,000 acres belong to the Daniel Boone National Forest and 114,806 acres of timberland is owned privately. The other 109,494 acres has a rolling topography. Soil types make a significant portion of Clay County best suited for permanent vegetation such as pasture or woodlands. In the 20 th Century Clay County was a major coal producing county. In the 1970's, the county experienced a coal boom where jobs were plentiful and high paying. A typical worker could be paid $17-$19 an hour for fueling equipment used during strip mining. Our county is still recovering from the coal decline in the 80's and 90's, and for the first time our county does not have an active deep mine or strip mine operation going on. The people of Clay County continue to look for jobs that are that high paying. As we enter a new millennium, agriculture is a vital part of Clay County s economic structure Agriculture income is reported by the Kentucky Agriculture Statistics Service as $5,854,000. Burley tobacco is the mainstay of Clay County Agriculture, generating $4,864,000 annually. Tobacco income on Clay County s 402 farms accounts for more than 60% of our total agricultural income. Recent instability in burley tobacco created a 29% quota cut in 1999 and a 45% cut in 2000, reducing by nearly 2/3's the amount of tobacco which could be marketed and a corresponding decrease in tobacco receipts. Such shifts in quota have already begun altering the number of farms directly involved in the production of tobacco, and are rapidly decreasing the number of farms on which farming is the sole occupation. Clay County sustained a 21.3% decrease in total number of farms, from 511 in 1992 to 402 farms in 1997, according to the 1997 Census of Agriculture. We anticipate an even sharper decrease for Livestock enterprises contributing to agriculture income are beef and goats. Clay County also has one dairy farm. In beef, mostly spring calving commercial cow-calf operations are present, with nearly half of all farms supporting some beef production. An estimated 2,000 brood cows produce a crop of calves sold as feeder calves in the fall. A few producers keep their calves and buy extra feed to be able to background these animals. Very little finishing takes place locally. A local slaughter house does not have a USDA grader. 1

2 Goats are becoming an important livestock commodity. There are several herds of goats present in Clay County. There are Area Marketing Alliances for both beef and goats in the Wilderness Trail Area. Conservative estimates of Clay County s forage production potential would indicate that we could support a marked increase in ruminant animal production. Clay County has many horses, mostly for pleasure; however, several people do compete in local, as well as state and regional competitions. Tennessee Walking Horses are the predominant breed of horses in Clay County. Game chickens or fighting roosters are very popular in our county. This industry is one of the reasons that a lot of corn and specialized feeds are sold locally. Clay County s total resident population in 2001 is 22,700. Our poverty rate is 37.3% and we have a median household income of $18,721. In 1998 our unemployment rate was listed at 6.9%; however, some estimate that only 21% of our available workforce is employed because long-term unemployment is not involved in the statistics. The net cash return from agricultural sales for farm unit was $5,260 in The Daniel Boone Parkway runs through Clay County. We are 22 miles from I-75 exits in London, KY. The growing season (freeze to freeze) is at least 175 days, eight out of 10 years, with average rainfall of 49 inches, 25 inches between April and September. Clay County has 4,178 acres listed as row crop land. Crops currently grown on this acreage include 1,500 acres of tobacco, 600 acres of corn, 75 acres of vegetables and the rest is in hay. Soil tests indicate an acidic soil requiring amendment in the form of agricultural lime for many agronomic crops. Agricultural lime is trucked into Clay County from Jackson County or Pulaski County. II Review of the Process The Clay County Agriculture Development Council held three community forums throughout the county to gather input from farms, agribusinesses, and industry/government leaders. Major concerns that were brought forth include: water availability for agricultural and industrial uses, availability of labor for agricultural use, lack of marketing knowledge for producers as well as lack of markets, and no value added processors of our forest resources. The Council made the following assessments: Strengths: -Oil and gas availability -Over 300,000 acres of land in Clay County -Forest Assets (timber, herbs, ginseng) 2

3 -Available reclaimed mined land -Road system -Rainfall -Salt water -Wildlife -People -Youth Weaknesses: -Clay County lacks crop land needed to develop row crops. -Clay County is located far from any urban center. -Most farmers have little capital in which to start new ventures. -Lack of marketing knowledge for producers. -Lack of available labor. Opportunities: -Take advantage of prison and school system with food items. -Take advantage of available strip mined lands. -Utilization of forest land and forest resources. -Utilization of stone quarries. Threats: -Many young people are moving away. -Youth not interested in agricultural careers. -Rising land costs make it near impossible for young people to go into farming. -Lack of good jobs available for those who farm part time. -Increasing environmental pressures. Mission Statement: Our vision for Clay County is to have a strong agricultural economy that will allow existing farmers to produce a level of farm income sufficient enough to maintain farm viability, whether full or part time. We hope to develop this economy even with the decline of tobacco income. We are also concerned about our community and we want to make it a better place to live. Short-Term Priorities 3

4 The Clay County Agriculture Development Council believes that our immediate goal is to add profitability to the already existing agricultural enterprises that are established in Clay County, such as tobacco, corn, beef, goats and aquaculture while aggressively investigating and developing new enterprises that are not in existence yet. Also, the Clay County Agriculture Development Council must inform the county about the Phase I Tobacco Settlement, the functions of the Agriculture Development Council and the opportunities for our county through settlement money. Long-Term Priorities Clay County s long-term goals will include the search for agricultural enterprises that have the potential to produce the amount of income that will allow producers and their families to stay on the farm. Tactics for Leveraging Funds The council will review proposals from applicants. The council will be looking for evidence that there will be matching of funds by the applicant (this includes in-kind and other grant monies) and the level of his/her contribution will be a major determining factor for approval. All proposals shall include budgets and anticipated income and expenditures. The council will also be receptive to applications that involve other areas of the state if the applicant can show not only their contribution of funds, but also that other counties will be willing to match funds for a combined area enterprise. We will also be working with the other state organizations that provide assistance to farmers to add profitability to new and existing programs. Evaluation and Review All proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria: 1) Proper completion of the application. 2) Probable returns from labor. 3) Tobacco farmers will be given a priority over non-producers. 4) Small farmers will be given equal access to funds as large farmers. 5) Funds will be distributed without regard to age, race, sex and disability. 6) Each application will be evaluated upon its own merits. 7) Council members will abstain from discussion and vote on requests made by themselves 4

5 or immediate family members and should not be present in the meeting at the time of discussion. 8) Alternative enterprises will be given priority over traditional enterprises. 9) Requests must be based on sound business practices. 10) All adults must share 50% equity in the proposal. This 50% could be in-kind and other grant monies. 11) All youth requests must share 25% of the equity in the proposal. Youth proposals have a limit of $5,000 per cost share proposals. There will be a limit of one proposal per youth and two per family. The FFA advisor or 4-H Agent must approve the project and a short essay written by the youth will evaluate the project and assess future plans to enter agriculture as a career. (Youth is defined as 22 years of age and under.) 12) Request for county funds must be for purchases newly made after February 1,