agents in counties across the state have "played
a critical role" in making the process work locally,
says Larry Turner, associate director of the Cooperative
About a year ago, more than $50 million was earmarked
to go directly to the counties. But, nobody said exactly
how that was to happen. There was wording in the law that
the Cooperative Extension Service would provide "administrative
support" as local agricultural development councils
got up and running.
And that legal wording has meant lots of night meetings
in the past year for people like Steve Moore, ag agent
in Henry County. "We were being asked to tread waters
that hadn't been charted," says Moore.
Moore and other agents like him across the state had to
make sure the local ag development councils were set up
properly, make contacts with other local agencies, act
as a go-between with state agencies, help the counties
come up with comprehensive plans to use the money, pull
together public forums, set up grant application workshops,
let the public know how to apply for money, and now, advise
groups that have received money for funded projects.
"It's a work in progress," Moore said. "We're
still interpreting our role."
Associate Extension Director Turner has nothing but praise
for the "huge job" Extension agents have done
in about a year's time, from the formation of local councils
to receipt of money at the local level.
"We called on agents to do a lot, and they responded
in a great way," Turner says. "They really made
a difference in making this go."
The College is also involved in the tobacco settlement
program in many other ways.
Across the state, model programs developed by Extension
specialists are saving in start-up costs for county-based
projects that are using Phase I money. These programs
give local producers access to good production practices
in forage systems, cattle handling facilities, beef genetics,
agricultural diversification, and even goat production.
For example, the College is part of the Kentucky Beef
Network through its Extension faculty and county agents.
The network is a group of organizations working to promote,
improve, and sustain the state's beef cattle industry.
It was made possible with $1.8 million in Phase I money
to the Kentucky Cattlemen's Association.
Tobacco settlement money is also being used to help farmers
with horticultural production. Six Extension associates
have been hired to assist statewide in this effort. They
offer advice and on-farm demonstrations in both production
Scott Smith, dean of the College and director of the Cooperative
Extension Service, is one of 15 members of the state's
Agricultural Development Board, which oversees the allocation
of the $180 million in tobacco settlement money earmarked
for agriculture through 2002.
"In terms of new responsibilities and new opportunities,
this is probably the most significant development for
the College of Agriculture in the
last decade," Smith said. The settlement money comes
as part of an agreement with major domestic cigarette
manufacturers to compensate states for past smoking-related
expenses. (This money is commonly called Phase I tobacco
settlement money. Phase II money is being used for direct
compensation to tobacco growers.)