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Financial help available for Owen farmers

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By Molly Haines

Over $200,000 was recently awarded in Owen County agricultural development funds for a county agricultural investment fund.
The Owen County Farm Bureau submitted a proposal to the Owen County Agricultural Development Council and the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board to provide cost share incentives to local farmers.
According to a release from the Kentucky Agricultural Development board, a county agricultural investment fund is designed to provide farmers with incentives to allow them to improve and diversify their current production practices. The program combines what were previously known as county model cost-share programs into one, where each model program becomes an investment area.
Jeff Wright, a member of the board that accepts applications for the investment program, said when the tobacco buyout was done, money was put into a fund and every year money is dispersed according to size of county and how much tobacco was grown in that particular county.
“We’re accepting applications through (Oct. 19),” Wright said. “It consists of several different programs they can do and this year there’s a 75/25 percent pay, with the farmers receiving 75 percent back off of initial investment with each program they pick, with a maximum of $5,000.”
There are 11 investment areas, including commercial production of aquaculture, bees and honey, equine, forage, fruit, livestock, mushrooms, rabbits, timber and vegetables.
“One farmer is only allowed to apply for up to three different areas,” Wright said. “Once applications are closed the agricultural board for Owen County will meet and determine who is approved and who’s not. There’s a grading scale and the board has a particular person who is paid to grade the applications. It’s based on several different questions, including agricultural experience and what you’ve done in the past.”
Wright said the application is a simple process and only takes about five minutes to complete.
In 2011, the board approved 133 applicants.
“Just about everybody that turned in an application was approved,” Wright said. “There’s no discrimination, we look at all of the applications turned in.”
Applications are available now and are due by Friday, Oct. 19 at 4:30 p.m. Applications may be picked up at the Owen County Cooperative Extension Office at 265 Ellis Hwy.
“It’s very simple and with the shape our economy’s in, it’s a great program,” Wright said.