July 29 to August 2, 2006.
TO: Members of the SLC Agriculture & Rural Development Committee
FR: Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton, Maryland, Chair, SLC Agriculture & Rural Development Committee
RE: Report of Activities of the Agriculture & Rural Development Committee at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, July 29-August 2, 2006
The SLC Agriculture & Rural Development Committee convened on Sunday, July 30, for a business session and on Monday, July 31, for a program session during the 60th SLC Annual Meeting. The following is a summary of the speaker presentations and Committee activities from each of these programs.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
I. Meeting the Needs of Rural America:
Can Rural Initiatives and Farm Programs Be Aligned?
Charles W. Fluharty, Ph.D.,Director, Rural Policy Research Institute, Missouri
There are numerous challenges and opportunities for rural America. As policymakers, it often is difficult to know where to start to craft policies that assist rural communities to survive and thrive. For almost 80 years, farm policy has been seen as a proxy for rural policy. Over the past few decades, however, the imperative to define a rural policy and more closely align it with farm policy has emerged.
Dr. Fluharty’s Presentation
Rural policy and farm policy have long been interrelated, Dr. Fluharty began. Policies and budgets are ultimately about visions and values, a fact that raises several questions that should frame the approach that is taken to this issue. Notably, policymakers need to ask what the principal policy goals of rural initiatives and farm programs are, who are the constituencies of each, and how are they benefited by public investments? Also, since almost all producers are rural people, it is worth asking why farm and rural programs historically have been viewed as inherently competitive or contradictory.
Dr. Fluharty asserted that globally this is a very interesting time for agriculture policy. With the collapse of the World Trade Organization talks, the future of both the next Farm Bill and actions in state legislatures now are more uncertain. He also noted that there are some key drivers of change that provide hope for linking Agriculture & Rural Development policy for the first time in a century.
Dr. Fluharty noted that the trends for rural places—such as declining population, concentrated farm payments, inverse geographic correlation between farm subsidies and economic growth, and the disadvantage of entrepreneurial agriculture under existing farm policy—will paly a major role in shaping the current discussions concerning the Farm Bill. These realities of rural America will enter a discussion in which new constituencies—urban and suburban included—with new ideas will have much more say than ever before. The positive aspect of this likely will be that decisions will be shifted to the state level.
The historical justification for rural development has been in part based on class, but at the time that this developed agriculture and rural policy were essentially the same thing. For a century, it was the goal of farm and rural policy to lift up the lives of producers. Eventually, agriculture and rural policy parted and this lead to a series of rationales for attention to rural places, including race, culture, place, equity and access, and public sector stewardship. All of these models approach rural America as something broken and build in an inherent government dependency. Because of this, a change in rural rhetoric is long overdue, and should focus on what is unique and possible about rural America.
Rural America is at a disadvantage with respect to resources for development on several fronts, Dr. Fluharty added. Federal policy returns less money to rural places per person than urban areas, with 13 percent more of these funds returning to rural America in the form of direct payments that do not help to build up the capacity and infrastructure of rural America. Every year, the federal government spends two to five times more per capita on community development in urban areas than on rural places, with federal spending on rural community resources one-third that of urban. This $286 per-person disadvantage, Dr. Fluharty noted, leads to a $14 billion rural disadvantage annually. Furthermore, rural America gets just over 1 percent of philanthropic and corporate foundation giving, leading to a structural disadvantage in private funds for rural development.
Dr. Fluharty suggested that attention be paid less to rural development and more to regional innovation policy. This shifts the focus away from recruitment-development models to developing the assets of an area. This approach requires identifying and encouraging “functional” economic regions. The link to higher education also needs to be rethought and connected to the regional framework for advancement. Finally, there is a need to reconsider how to develop leadership for regional—instead of county or community—development.
Dr. Fluharty noted that the goal should be to make the region competitive, which means identifying regional assets and advantages. The problem is that niche approaches in rural areas very often are not well assessed, limiting innovation and entrepreneurship programs from having wiser decision support around them.
A new rural policy should acknowledge that current agricultural policy has many goals, but has failed to adequately assure broad-based rural economic growth. New approaches are needed to build competitive regions in a global environment. This will require supporting necessary institutional innovations, particularly at the state level. In turn, this new rural policy will assist in easing our current agricultural trade conflicts. The question of whether agricultural and rural policy conflict needs to be reframed into one of building a framework that integrates them so that rural places can continue to support healthy economies.
The key drivers that will force this reformulation of both agriculture and rural policy are the upcoming Farm Bill, the collapse of WTO negotiations, the rise of new micropolitan areas (small towns that serve as the centers of rural industry), and a shift toward regional innovations. An example of this last element, Dr. Fluharty noted, is a state community development block grant, which would capitalize on some of the strengths of the federal program but put the decision-making back at the appropriate level.
Dr. Fluharty closed with four key elements to a renaissance in rural policy in the United States. There is a need to maintain the current level of federal investment in rural areas, in part to support key public infrastructure and to begin to overcome the funding disadvantage. A new rural policy framework based on regional rural innovation must be developed—one that brings together the public and private sector at the national, regional, state, and local levels. It is vital that these efforts support key operational principles, including asset-based development; flexibility and local input; investment in new intermediaries such as community colleges and faith-based organizations; and attention to the importance of working landscapes. Finally, there is a need to develop and sustain a national dialogue on rural America which will involve rediscovering the social contract between rural and urban America and an understanding of their mutual dependence.
II. The 2007 Farm Bill Update
Jonathan R. Watts Hull, Senior Policy Analyst, Southern Legislative Conference, Georgia
Most components of the 2002 Farm Bill expire in 2007, and the path to a new Farm Bill is far from clear. In the face of pressure from global trade agreements, domestic budget deficits, and increasing demands on open lands, the debate over the future of federal farm policy and the farm sector promises to be lively and unpredictable.
Mr. Hull’s Presentation
Mr. Hull began by observing that if the 2002 Farm Bill is neither extended nor reauthorized, permanent farm legislation, much of it dating back to the 1930s and 1940s and thoroughly incompatible with current agriculture sector conditions and trade agreements, will come back into effect. The core mission of the Farm Bill during the past 70 years has been farm income and commodity price support, although Farm Bills have grown over time to include a wide range of important, non-core activities. The Farm Bill took a radical departure from its historic roots in the 1996 reauthorization which scheduled all farm subsidies to be phased out by 2002, replaced in this transitional period with decoupled payments which would themselves phase out gradually, resulting in a farm policy that was entirely market-based.
This plan was disrupted, Mr. Hull explained, by a sharp decline in the farm sector economy and increasing competition from other countries, which resulted in record emergency payments to farmers in the years leading up to the 2002 reauthorization. A complete retreat from federal intervention in farm income thus became politically untenable and, thanks to a booming economy in general, fiscally unnecessary when the 2002 Farm Bill was written. The combination of a soft farm economy and robust tax revenues resulted in a record increase (80 percent) in farm program spending.
In the years since the passage of the 2002 Farm Bill, Mr. Hull continued, appropriations have not kept up with the authorizations within the legislation, particularly as the economy stalled following the dot.com bust and the terrorist attacks of September 11. The 2007 Farm Bill will be written under entirely different circumstances with four key policy pressures coming to bear on the development of the next comprehensive piece of farm legislation.
The first pressure is the federal deficit, which was $352 billion at the close of fiscal 2005. The national debt also is at astronomical levels, finishing fiscal 2005 at $8.3 trillion. Farm Bills written during deficits tend to experience reduced spending, with the most recent round of budget reconciliation indicating both the nature of these cuts and the scale. Furthermore, efforts to make permanent many of the tax cuts enacted early in President Bush’s first term, rising entitlement spending, and the ongoing costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will apply downward pressure on all domestic spending.
A second pressure affecting the Farm Bill debate is ongoing trade talks and the future of global trade. With the Doha round of the World Trade Organization talks essentially dead, the peace clause, which protects U.S. interests from challenges during negotiations, has expired. Given the fairly negative outcome of the recent Brazilian challenge to the U.S. cotton program, there is great cause for concern that other aspects of U.S. commodity policy will be voided by the WTO. Agriculture was at the center of the derailment in global trade talks, with the developing world demanding further cuts in farm aid from the European Union and the United States in exchange for lowering trade barriers in other areas. Domestically, the U.S. secretary of agriculture and chairs of both Congressional agriculture committees have stated that the next Farm Bill will be compliant with trade agreements. Furthermore, the United States trade representative and President Bush have both said that the United States will end farm subsidies by 2010 or 2013.
A third force shaping the next Farm Bill will be the leadership and political dynamics in Washington, Mr. Hull added. Neither of the House and Senate agriculture committee chairs have written a Farm Bill before, which can have both positive and negative implications. While this may make it more difficult to develop a piece of legislation that is palatable across the wide-ranging community of interested parties, it also provides for an opportunity for new thinking on agricultural policy. The leadership dynamics are compounded by a highly fractured agricultural community, with a host of groups and advocacy organizations—both within agriculture and outside it—weighing in on the debate, increasing the difficulty in arriving at a consensus document. Furthermore, Congress itself has become more fractious, which makes bipartisan efforts such as the Farm Bill much more difficult to shepherd through.
The final policy pressure on the upcoming Farm Bill is the current condition of the farm sector, Mr. Hull said. If the principal mission of the Farm Bill is to improve farm income, then the best measure of how well farm policy is working should be the health of the farm sector and, specifically, farm income. By this measure current farm policy seems to work for the 7 percent of farmers (the very largest farms, responsible for 70 percent of sales) who, according to USDA figures, operate in the black. The remaining 93 percent of farmers, who control two-thirds of U.S. farmland, have negative farm operating profits. Off-farm income provides 85 percent to 95 percent of farm household income across all sizes of farms. Not surprisingly, new entrants to farming are few, leading to a disconcertingly high average age for farmers as compared to other professions, and raising questions about who will be raising the food for the next generation of Americans.
Given these pressures, the outlook for the 2007 Farm Bill is somewhat unclear, added Mr. Hull. The first issue to be resolved is that of an extension. Many farm groups have called for extending the current legislation for one or two years so that negotiations on the Farm Bill and the finalizing of any WTO agreement do not take place simultaneously. Mr. Hull noted that with the derailment of Doha, some of this pressure might go away, but there is still considerable interest in delaying any new legislation until the global trade situation is clarified by either multilateral or multiple bilateral trade agreements. An extension would eliminate any possibility of the United States unnecessarily legislating away farm program support not demanded by the WTO as well as assure that the Farm Bill will not need to be rewritten to accommodate the final trade deal. Mr. Hull noted that opponents of an extension contend it allows for U.S. farm policy to be written in foreign capitals and also delays any transformation of U.S. agriculture policy through the Farm Bill, something the 2007 Farm Bill is expected to be.
How transformative the next Farm Bill will be is an open question, Mr. Hull added. Given the hostility of the international trade regulating body to farm subsidies, there is a strong possibility that U.S. farm policy will again move toward a market transition. While there are significant limitations to using free market models to develop agricultural policy, any shift toward market principles likely will embrace support for practice-based payments (such as conservation payments on working lands) and shift funds from production-based support (such as program crop payments). Because such a shift would widen the pool of eligible participants and dilute the size of any individual’s payment, there is likely to be resistance from commodity producers, who would probably see their government support decline, as well as from livestock and poultry producers, for whom feed prices would probably increase. On the other hand, these programs, precisely because they broaden the pool of participants, can have large constituencies, Mr. Hull noted.
The 2007 Farm Bill certainly will see an expansion in support for energy and bio-energy related research. There is a possibility that specialty crops will gain new access to program funding of some kind, a recognition that specialty producers now account for roughly half of all farms in the United States. Other approaches that may receive more attention this cycle, he added, are revenue insurance and farm savings account pilot projects, in large part because they are presumed to be WTO-friendly. Finally, a comprehensive rural policy will be discussed during the upcoming debate, and there may be some move to consolidate some of the numerous programs and activities that serve rural places.
III. Election of Officers
Representative Adrian Arnold, Kentucky, gave the report of the Nominating Committee. Senator Noble Ellingon, Louisiana, was nominated for chair of the Committee, and Delegate Bobby Orrock, Virginia, was nominated for vice chair of the Committee. The nominations were moved and seconded, and Senator Ellingon and Delegate Orrock were elected by acclamation.
Monday, July 31, 2006
I. Ag Energy and Rural Development
Commissioner Gene Hugoson, Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Rising fuel prices and global energy demand, along with growing concerns over instability in oil-producing regions of the world and the impacts of global climate change, have increased interest in renewable fuels. The increased activity on biofuels across the country promises new opportunities for rural communities and agricultural producers. The path to rural prosperity and energy independence through ag energy is complex, however, and states all benefit from the experience of others. Perhaps no state has done more than Minnesota to develop and promote ag energy alternatives.
Commissioner Hugoson’s Presentation
Ethanol is the dominant biofuel product in Minnesota, Commissioner Hugoson explained. The state had at one time a considerable number of small, on-farm ethanol facilities, with little capacity for off-farm sales. During the 1980s’ farm crisis, there was renewed attention to ethanol for rural development purposes, which aligned well with emerging interest in reducing dependence on foreign fossil fuels and a need to improve urban air quality. This shifted the focus of the ethanol industry in Minnesota to larger-scale facilities with greater capacity.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has been the lead agency on ethanol in the state, Commissioner Hugoson continued, taking the lead on public education, working to increase production and encouraging farmer-owned developments. This last feature has meant that those who own the stock, principally producers, have shared the profits from the ethanol operations in the state. At one time, 10 percent of Minnesota’s 80,000 farmers owned stock in an ethanol facility.
When the state first got involved in ethanol, Commissioner Hugoson added, the goal was to boost production from 1.5 million gallons annually to 200 million gallons, a target the state has far surpassed, with annual production now in excess of 570 million gallons. Minnesota is the highest per capita consumer of ethanol in the United States. For the past 10 years Minnesota has mandated a 10 percent blend of ethanol in all gasoline sold (with a few exceptions), which has helped to establish a healthy market. The state also put in place a subsidy of 20 cents per gallon up to 15 million gallons annually for 10 years, essentially providing ethanol plants a guarantee of $30 million over the life of the subsidy from state general revenues, which reassured lenders that these operations were reasonable risks. This situation has changed over time, with banks and Wall Street now becoming very interested in investing in ethanol plants.
The problem with the incentive was that plants were built to maximize the upper end of the subsidy cap, creating 15 million gallon plants, Commissioner Hugoson observed, which is both inefficient and fails to provide substantial supply capacity. Because the costs of developing facilities has dropped, virtually all of Minnesota’s 15 million gallon plants have expanded to 40-50 million gallon capacity, with new plants being built in the 100 million gallon range. Minnesota’s ethanol industry has grown from one plant in 1986 to 16 plants in 2006—12 of which are farmer-owned—with most of these located in the southern tier of the state.
The biggest beneficiaries from these plants are the farmers who hold stock in the co-op that runs the plant, with some farmers recouping their investment within a year, Commissioner Hugoson noted. Industrial processing consumes about 20 percent of the state’s corn crop, which has had an upward effect on corn prices—about $300 million—and has created nearly 6,000 direct and indirect jobs. Ethanol production amounts to a $1.8 billion industry in the state, which is shared among farmers and non-farmers across Minnesota. Corn-to-ethanol has added an average of $1.74 per bushel to corn value, with each 15 million gallon plant adding $10 million in value to 5.5 million bushels of corn each year, money that is pumped back into local economies. Ethanol facilities as an investment provide farmers with a hedge on corn prices and diversifies farm income, leveling out some of the typical income peaks and valleys associated with commodity prices. Furthermore, ethanol production in Minnesota produces about 1 million tons of dried distillers grains as a byproduct, which is in turn a high-protein, low-cost feed source for livestock and poultry producers.
In 2005, the governor proposed and the Legislature approved raising the mandate to a 20 percent blend by 2013. This can be satisfied either voluntarily through the use of flexible fuel vehicles running on E85 (85 percent ethanol blend) or as a phased-in mandate of a 20 percent blend if the mandate has not been met voluntarily by 2010.
Commissioner Hugoson also noted that Minnesota became the first state to establish a biodiesel mandate (a 2 percent blend) in 2005. The mandate requires that the state be able to meet at least half of the amount of biodiesel required to meet the mandate (8 million gallons). The state currently produces 63 million gallons of biodiesel, much more than the 16 million required to meet the mandate. He acknowledged that the state had some difficulties with the early stages of the implementation, but expects that most of these problems will be resolved this winter, and eventually the state will be using a 20 percent biodiesel blend.
Commissioner Hugoson noted that E85 has received a big push in Minnesota, with almost half of all E85 stations in the country located in the state. The state established an incentive for stations to offer the fuel, with more coming on line. More needs to be done, he noted, because the state needs perhaps 1,000 stations offering E85 to give customers the coverage they require to be able to find the fuel they need. To meet the increased demand for ethanol, the state has expansions underway that will increase production to over 1 billion gallons.
Commissioner Hugoson remarked that other states were joining Minnesota in passing ethanol mandates, including Hawaii, Montana, Washington, and Missouri. At the federal level, Congress is considering legislation on a renewable fuels standard and the president called for broadening renewable fuel efforts during a state of the union address. Renewable fuels have suddenly become popular and possible. High oil prices and the need to shift away from MTBE to oxygenate gasoline both have helped to shift the debate, he added, along with increased promotion efforts from U.S. auto makers for E85 vehicles.
Finally, he noted, renewable fuels face barriers on several fronts. There is resistance from oil companies to installing E85 pumps, which has slowed deployment. E85 vehicles have been slow to catch on among consumers, and there are lingering misconceptions about ethanol. Among these, one of the most persistent is the myth that it takes more energy to produce ethanol than it returns, an assertion that was based on old data and ignores the amount of energy it takes to produce gasoline.
II. Disaster Preparation and Response for Agriculture
Edwin Jones, Ph.D., Associate Director, Agricultural Programs, North Carolina State University; Chair, Extension Disaster Education Network
Agriculture is a risky enterprise. Producers face uncertainty from the weather, markets, insects and disease, among other things. For most, so long as these variables are within certain boundaries, the risk has been manageable. There are threats that producers are not able to face and respond to on their own, however, and those seem to be growing more immediate each year. Preparing for and responding to the wide range of disasters that can have an impact on agriculture, including hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, avian influenza, BSE, Exotic Newcastle, and a host of others, is a challenge for producers and policymakers alike.
The Extension Disaster Education Network educates agricultural producers on the most current approaches and best practices in this area. Comprising state extension officers from across the county, the Network can tap into a huge reservoir of expertise, extending the capacity of each state extension system to meet a wide range of needs.
Dr. Jones’ Presentation
The Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) is a collaboration of the land grant institutions across the United States, Dr. Jones explained. The Network was founded in 1994 following devastating floods in the north central Great Plains, during which extension educators and agents needed resources from outside the region to help them answer victims’ questions. EDEN created an avenue for each state to share in the vast amount of educational expertise and experience that is resident in the land grant system as a whole, something Dr. Jones noted, and was lacking in large part prior to the catastrophic floods of 1994. Today, land grant institutions in all 50 states, as well as three territories, participate in the Network.
The early focus of EDEN was on creating a website to make educational resources, materials and points of contact across a wide range of issues available. The Network is more than just a website, however, since in many disasters, access to the Internet is sporadic or unavailable. Because EDEN focuses on sharing information among the extension systems as well as with other organizations, the relationships that are developed through the Network are vital when disaster strikes. Among the partners tied together through EDEN are federal and state agencies, voluntary organizations active in disasters, and local groups.
As an example of what EDEN has done, Dr. Jones described how the Network put together state-specific materials on what resources would be available and how they could be accessed for evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita who were returning home. At the state level, the LSU AgCenter and the Mississippi State Extension Service were able to draw upon considerable amounts of expertise on cattle and poultry management from the Network following the hurricanes as well, greatly extending the capacity of these two institutions to address concerns from producers and the state. EDEN also has been active in state-based responses to floods, tornadoes, and disaster preparedness. The most important element of the network, Dr. Jones explained, is to learn from other states’ experiences in order to anticipate some of the needs that might be faced in the event of future disaster.
Dr. Jones added that EDEN is working to expand national access to “communities of practice”—individuals who specialize in key areas of expertise. The first two areas of focus are floods and agrosecurity. Working through EDEN, national specialists will develop best practice materials that will then be available on the Internet, along with local contact information for state and county institutions. This will mean that no matter where a person is, he or she will have access to the best available information anywhere in a way that also provides for local response.
The southern region of the Network is working on a model of multistate collaboration and support. The goal is to create an organizational message of what the extension service can do, particularly across state lines, and to help states access resources for effective programming. Dr. Jones noted that EDEN also is a provider of online curricula for extension agents. These learning opportunities train agents in educating others on pertinent topics, equipping them with the tools needed to reach target audiences. Among the current curricular offerings are a plant biosecurity management course to help producers and agents work together to control biosecurity threats and respond in an appropriate and coordinated manner. Other curricula topics include protecting the food supply; the federal national response plan; and pandemic disease outbreaks. Dr. Jones added that the Network would be hosting six animal biosecurity conferences around the country in an effort to collaborate efforts and planning across state lines.
Finally, Dr. Jones highlighted the North Carolina Disaster Recovery Guide as a useful tool for states to use as a model. The comprehensive document covers a wide range of contingencies over 12 sections (including agriculture), outlining responsibilities and expectations of all partners. The guide is distributed primarily in electronic form to facilitate revisions, so that all involved parties have the most current version. With respect to agriculture, the document includes guidelines for damage assessment, financial assistance programs, animal sheltering and disposal, and the use of facilities (such as county fairgrounds) by partner agencies. In closing, Dr. Jones emphasized the benefits of developing institutional relationships and expectations in advance of disasters, in order to facilitate response in the aftermath of one.
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Bradbury Farm, Shuckman’s Fish Company, and River Bend Winery
Interested Committee members visited three businesses in the Louisville area to see how Kentucky has used a portion of its Phase I Tobacco Settlement funds to benefit agriculture. Kentucky reserves half of all payments from the Master Settlement Agreement for agriculture in the state, applying it in a wide range of areas. The first stop on the tour was Bradbury Farm, a cattle and tobacco operation which has used Tobacco Settlement funds to build a hay barn and cattle shed, and to improve the genetics of their cattle herd, all of which have positively affected their profitability. The second stop on the tour was Shuckman’s Fish Company, a generations-old institution in Louisville that used funds from the Settlement to expand its operations into processing Kentucky fish. Shuckman’s produces a range of gourmet products, including smoked fish and caviar, from fish grown in the state. The final stop on the tour was the River Bend Winery, located blocks from downtown. The winery processes grapes from a number of Kentucky growers into hand-crafted wines and is in the process of expanding operations. A portion of the start-up costs for the winery was provided by Master Settlement funds.
SLC Fall Meeting
Savannah, Georgia, November 10-13, 2006
All committees of the Southern Legislative Conference will meet during the SLC Fall Meeting in Savannah, Georgia, November 10-13, 2006. Committee sessions will take the form of open roundtable discussions, with conference wide plenary sessions for all members. In keeping with the wishes of the SLC appointing authorities, please note that meeting notification does not authorize travel.
Staff Liaison: Jonathan R. Watts Hull, email@example.com, (404) 633-1866
Southern Legislative Conference 60th Annual Meeting
Agriculture & Rural Development Committee
July 29 – August 2, 2005
Representative Frank McDaniel
Representative Charles Newton
Representative Howard Sanderford
Representative William Thigpen
Mr. Noopie Cosby, Cosby Company
Mr. Winston Leavell, Alabama Department of Agriculture
Representative Travis Boyd
Representative Marilyn Edwards
Representative Gene Maddox
Representative Betty Pickett
Ms. Janelle Evyan, Bureau of Legislative Research
Ms. Annett Pagan, Winrock International
Ms. Estella Smith, Bureau of Legislative Research
District of Columbia
Mr. Phil Clark, FEMA
Mr. Mike McGarey, Nuclear Energy Institute
Mr. Chris Whatley, The Council of State Governments
Representative Mack Crawford
Representative Terry England
Representative Johnny Floyd
Representative Penny Houston
Senator Ralph Hudgens
Representative Butch Parrish
Representative Robert Ray
Representative Jay Roberts
Representative Carl Rogers
Representative Richard Royal
Representative Jay Shaw
Mr. George Bullock, Center for Energy and Economic Development
Ms. Angie Fiese, Senate Research
Ms. Susan Gibson, U.S. Army
Mr. Jonathan R. Watts Hull
Mr. Mike Kumpf, BP
Mr. Ken Nemeth, Southern States Energy Board
Mr. Tom Park, Southern Company
Representative Adrian Arnold
Representative John A. Arnold
Representative Eddie Ballard
Representative Carolyn Belcher
Senator David E. Boswell
Representative James Bruce
Representative Tom Burch
Representative Jim Gooch
Senator Vernon McGaha
Representative Tom McKee
Representative Harry Moberly, Jr.
Senator Joey Pendleton
Representative Brent Yonts
Mr. Tod Griffin, Kentucky Retail Federation
Ms. Marie McKinney, The Council of State Governments
Ms. Wanda Mitchell-Smith, AFSCME
Representative Beverly Bruce
Senator Noble Ellington
Representative Mickey Frith
Senator Butch Gatreaux
Senator Mike Smith
Senator Gerald Theunissen
Senator J.Chris Ullo
Dr. Bob Bauman, LSU
Senator Thomas "Mac" Middleton
Commissioner Gene Hugoson, Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Senator Hillman Frazier
Representative Pat Montgomery
Representative Bobby Shows
Mr. Dwan Johnson, House Legislative Services
Ms. Gwen Tatum, House Legislative Services
Representative Greg Ward
Dr. Charles Fluharty, Rural Policy Research Institute
Dr. Edwin Jones, Extension Disaster Education Network
Ms. Barbara Riley
Mr. Daniel Charbonneau, Can-USIPG
Ms. June Dewetering, Can-USIPG
France Bonsant, Member of Parliament
Mr. Jim Grayson, HCA
Mr. John Morgan, Comptroller,
Senator Emmett Hanger
Delegate Bobby Orrock
Delegate Kenneth R. Plum
Delegate Bob Beach
Senator Karen Facemyer
Senator Walt Helmick
Senator Shirley Love
Mr. Jeff Davis, Treasurers Office
Ms. Sandy Marinacci, Department of Agriculture