TOBACCO ERA ENDS, LEAVING OPPORTUNITIES IN ITS WAKE
As most of you are aware, in the fall Congress passed historic legislation ending the U.S. tobacco program. The buyout provisions of this legislation will offer much-deserved financial restitution for tens of thousands of Kentucky growers and quota holders. But we now face a future with no guaranteed franchise for the crop that sustained so many of our family farms for most of the 20th century.
To add to this challenge, U.S. agriculture as a whole is in the midst of an era of remarkable change. We face such mega-trends as globalization, new kinds of consumerism, vertical integration of production, and consolidation of suppliers and processors--trends that threaten many traditional farming operations. The positive side of such dramatic change is that it may also offer new opportunities. In fact, in Kentucky agriculture we are seeing the emergence of new farm enterprises and a new spirit of innovation.
So this special issue--Kentucky Agriculture in the 21st Century--is
timely. The stories here provide analysis and perspective on the continuing
transitions. Even more so, we hope you enjoy the descriptions of several
models of agricultural success appropriate for future decades.
It is highly appropriate that this issue is a joint effort with the staff of the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy. I want to thank Keith Rogers, Kara Keeton, and the rest of their team for helping us with this and so many other shared endeavors. Their collaboration with our College staff on this project reflects the broad, strong partnerships that now characterize Kentucky's agricultural initiatives.
Postscript: As a quota holder, the College of Agriculture will receive payments from the tobacco buyout. I am pleased to announce that over the next decade we will use anticipated buyout payments to begin a $1 million dollar endowment providing scholarships for students from Kentucky.
M. Scott Smith
Dean, College of Agriculture