January 2, 2002 | By: Haven Miller

At a first-of-its-kind conference, Kentucky's county agricultural development council members and members of the public will soon get an up-close look at the state's agricultural development process.

Called the Kentucky Opportunity Marketplace, the conference is scheduled for January 28-29 at the Civic Center in Frankfort. It's sponsored by the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy, the Kentucky Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the University of Kentucky.

"The first day is primarily for county agricultural development council members and county Extension agents, and the second day is open to the general public" said Penny Cline of the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy. "The conference will put special emphasis on entrepreneurship, education and leadership and we encourage people to attend."

The first day includes leadership training for the people considered the "backbone" of the agricultural development process at the local level. Development council members and county Cooperative Extension agents will hear presentations on county cost-share programs, council responsibilities, and the long-term plan for ag development. There also will be a question and answer session on the Agricultural Development Fund.

Governor Paul Patton kicks off the second day's activities, followed by Laura Freeman and John Tobe of Laura's Lean Beef discussing ag development. The day features projects funded by the Agricultural Development Board to show how tobacco settlement dollars are being invested. The Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative, the Small Business Development Center, the USDA and several commodity groups and organizations will provide information on products, services, and programs.

In addition, educational tracks will cover business planning, business structure, access to capital, and creating a marketing plan.

"I think it is critical for those of us involved in agriculture to show support for the continued investment of the Phase I dollars to Kentucky agriculture, and this conference is an excellent way to allow farmers to do that," said David Sparrow of the UK College of Agriculture.

Registration is required to attend the educational tracks on the second day, which are free. All other activities on January 29th are open to the public without registration. For additional information on the Kentucky Opportunity Marketplace, contact your county Extension office or the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy at 502-564-4627. The Office of Agricultural Policy may also be found on the web at www.kyagpolicy.com.


Penny Cline, 502-564-4627