Planning for Kentucky Agriculture’s Future

11 Jan 2024 2:21 PM | Jennifer Elwell (Administrator)

Kentucky Agricultural Council Seeks Input for New Goals and Action

Kentucky Agriculture continues to evolve. With the new Kentucky Department of Agriculture administration, the Kentucky Agricultural Council (KAC) started work to develop a new vision and action plan with the input of Kentucky’s agricultural stakeholders. The Kentucky Agricultural Strategic Roadmap isn’t just about improving the state’s farms and helping farmers – it’s about strengthening their place in communities and improving quality of life and economic vitality across Kentucky. 

According to KAC executive secretary Jennifer Elwell, this will be the third time the umbrella group of Kentucky’s agricultural organizations has taken on this task. The first plan was released in 2007, followed by a plan in 2013. Even they the Council continued to hold regular member meetings for networking, education, and program updates, KAC had operated for several years without staff support. The board hired Elwell in July 2022 to assist and start the strategic planning process again.

“I believe the mission of the Kentucky Agricultural Council, promoting and educating about Kentucky agriculture, is a great companion to what I am already doing with the Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom,” said Elwell. “I also see the role as a way to connect with more of Kentucky’s agriculture groups and find ways to help them achieve their missions.”

KAC requested proposals for strategic planning services in August 2023 and awarded the contract to Michele Payn of Cause Matters, Corp in November. While several entities in Kentucky had previously worked with the Indiana-based agriculture consultant, her proposal included assistance from Murray State University’s Dr. Kristie Guffey. Guffey, originally from Trigg County, has held several leadership roles with Kentucky’s organizations. 

“Excited does not describe how I felt when I learned that Michele and Kristie were interested in working together on this project,” Elwell remarked. “Their experience will serve Kentucky agriculture well.”  

Payn and Guffey led an initial discussion with agriculture organization leaders at the November 2023 KAC members’ meeting. Payn facilitated small focus group sessions in December and January; a third session will continue through early February. An initial report will be provided at the February 15 KAC Annual Meeting; the final roadmap is set to be published and distributed in late 2024. 

Elwell said the goal is to receive input from as many agriculture stakeholders as possible, including a diverse set of farmers, food processors, and agricultural support staff. Board members also wanted a roadmap of concrete, achievable goals and a list of responsible parties who will take the necessary action to achieve those goals. 

“We want everyone involved in farming to feel they own this vision for Kentucky agriculture,” explained Elwell. “That ownership will hopefully result in an investment of time and funds to do the work to serve the agriculture community better.” 

February 15 Networking, Brain Storming, and Building Kentucky’s Agriculture Knowledge 

KAC would like to invite Kentucky’s agricultural stakeholders to participate in the February 15 meeting that will be held from 10 to 12 EDT in the Freedom Hall Conference Room during the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville. Payn will share the themes that surfaced from the focus group discussions, and members will be asked to brainstorm goals and action items within networking clusters. 

“A strategic roadmap, when acted upon, will help Kentucky take advantage of its diversity and resources,” remarked Payn. 

After talking with more than 80 stakeholders, Payn reported that collaboration and consumer awareness are among the most mentioned needs for Kentucky agriculture. Elwell told her that she already had tools to assist those efforts, and plans have been made to share those during the Feb. 15 meeting. The Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom will also facilitate a three-hour workshop that afternoon with Payn’s help, to prepare the agriculture community to better speak with non-farming audiences. Learn more about this interactive workshop at Registration is required. 

“I think it is critical that Kentucky’s farming community should work to have a positive, unified voice,” said Elwell. “While there are differences in production practices, operation size, and how goods are marketed, I believe there is a lot in which farmers can agree, such as the need to preserve farmland, conserve natural resources, and provide safe food to a growing population.”

Elwell continued and said this workshop is perfect for those who want to speak to schools, civic groups, local businesses, legislators, and government officials. Tools will also be provided to help participants tell Kentucky’s agriculture story. 

For more information about the Kentucky Agricultural Council meeting, visit   

About the Kentucky Agricultural Council

The Kentucky Agricultural Council is an umbrella group representing all sectors of Kentucky Agriculture. Its 50+ members include non-profit organizations, trade associations, commodity groups, state and federal agencies, and institutions of higher education — all interested in the advancement and development of Kentucky agriculture. KAC works to plan programs for its members and disseminate information that creates an understanding and appreciation of Kentucky agriculture and serves as a liaison between private and public agricultural organizations, the Commissioner of Agriculture, the Governor, and the legislature in order to develop and effectively utilize our agricultural resources to the fullest extent.

The Kentucky Agricultural Council is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Administrative Address: PO Box 722, Shepherdsville, KY 40165
Official Address: 105 Corporate Drive, Frankfort, KY 40601

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