Moving away from tobacco

Mulberry orchard
Amanda Gajdzik of Mulberry Orchard in Kentucky explains how she and her husband started an orchard from the ground up by planting more than 3,000 trees in 2010. The orchard, which is part of the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s Certified Farm Market Program and the state’s Kentucky Proud marketing initiative, hosted a tour for the Iowa Farm Bureau’s County Presidents’ Incentive Trip earlier this month. PHOTO / TOM BLOCK

Specialty crops are be­­ginning to replace tobacco as a hallmark of Kentucky’s agriculture sector with help from a state program redirecting dollars from a multi-billion dollar tobacco settlement to help beginning farmers. Iowa Farm Bureau county leaders caught a glimpse of Kentucky’s transformation away from the tobacco economy July 6-10 during the 2021 Iowa Farm Bureau Presidents’ Incentive Trip to the Bluegrass State.

Tobacco was a $1 billion in­dustry in Kentucky in 1998, ac­­counting for 25% of the state’s farm cash receipts. Today, the state’s tobacco cash receipts are...

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