beelerCALHOUN, Ky. (9/29/17) — McLean County Chamber members were both informed and entertained by guest speaker Warren Beeler yesterday at its noon luncheon meeting.

Beeler, who is with Gov. Matt Bevin’s Office of Agriculture Policy, talked about new technology-based farming, developing agricultural programs and what the future holds for farming in Kentucky.

Beeler described dairy farms with state-of-the-art milking systems in which the cow literally milks itself by reporting to the milking station to receive a measure of feed and allowing its udders to be washed and milked by a machine. A computer system monitors each cow by collars that signal when cows have reported for milking or if they are overdue so that the farmer can investigate.

Increasing world population is another concern for agriculture agencies and farmers, said Beeler.

“With the population going up,” he said, “we need to increase food production by 60 percent to feed everybody.”

He said today’s farmer may appear much different than the stereotype of bibbed overalls and a straw hat.

“Agriculture is a lot different than it’s been perceived,” said Beeler. “It’s science. We have to produce more with less and have to be good conservationists.”

Raising hemp is an area of agriculture that has had to overcome several obstacles including the stigma associated with its kinship with marijuana.

“There is 3/10ths of 1 percent the amount of THC in hemp,” said Beeler. “That means if you chose to smoke it, you’d have to smoke one the size of a telephone pole in one hour to get the effects of marijuana.”

The uses for hemp are increasing around the globe, he said. Hemp farming can produce products for paper, medicine and rope. One acre of hemp can produce as much material for making paper as 20 acres of trees, he said.

Hemp oil is used to assist chemotherapy patients with stomach problems and the medicinal properties of CBD oil (hemp oil) have been touted by patients and physicians.

Beeler also talked about other plants that have medicinal value including chia seeds and goldenrod.

Members commented about farmers being encouraged to join the chamber to receive information and benefits from membership.

In chamber business and announcements, Chamber President Larry Wheatley led the group in the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance and announced new members included a coffee roasting company in Island — Mylke and Ayer Farms and Earthworks Division of Calhoun. He also distributed information about the upcoming Truth and Consequences program being conducted by the Extension Service. To learn more about the educational program, which teaches about the dangers of drug abuse, call 270-273-3690 and speak with Amanda Dame.

Lindsey Kafer with Madisonville Community College’s adult education program in encouraging McLean countians without a high school diploma to attain a GED.

Chamber administrative director Ginger Fields announced that the chamber office and loft have wireless available for members and guests. The chamber is open from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Weekdays. Phone 270-273-9760 for more information.

McLean County Judge-Executive Kelly Thurman told the members there is a job opening at the University of Kentucky McLean County Extension Office for an agriculture agent.

Rita Dukes Smith
SurfKY News Director
Region 3 Vice President

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