Joe Trigg

Political party: 
Democrat
Question 1: 

What is your vision for the role of the Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture? How will our commonwealth be better in four years if you are elected?

  1. My vision is to move KY into the forefront of agribusiness in the US.  Who better than us, strategically located in the center of the US; the Ohio river a bulk product transportation dream, crisscrossed by major interstates I65,75,64, and 66 and an established railway system.  Do you know what country is the second largest agriculture exporter in the world? 1/3 the size of KY, the Netherlands comes in at #2, with an average farm size of 42 acres.  Each diversified farm makes a reasonable profit every year and the best part is their kids want to remain in the family agribusiness.  That same diversified farm base is my vision for KY where we look at look at farming not just as agriculture but as agribusiness. 

  2. Over the next four years I will lobby for the legalization of both medical marijuana/hemp and implementation of a modified quota system similar to the old tobacco quota program.  I hope to use these two agricultural products to propel diversification helping to make agribusiness both profitable and sustainable.

Question 2: 

How does your background qualify you for serving in this office? Please provide examples.

I grew up raising tobacco, milking cows and raising produce gardens to provide food for our family.  I entered the USAF and got to see farming operations around the world.  This exposure led to the purchase of our own farm and the formation of Trigg Enterprise, Inc.  

Beef - We have a 50+ cow/calf commercial beef operation and an alfalfa & mixed grass hay operation.

Produce Field/Greenhouse – We have one greenhouse with hydroponic green leaf crops and hybrid bag culture produce operation.  We had another greenhouse with an advance tilapia research project aquaculture as part of KSU and the “Farm to School” program.

Kentucky Proud - Early member of the Kentucky Proud program and helped in the initial development of Homegrown by Heroes.  I was instrumental in the establishment of Sustainable Glasgow “Bounty of the Barrens Farmers Market” where Trigg Enterprise has been a vendor since inception. 

War of food deserts – I founded Farm to City Connection, Inc (F2CC) an attempt to link multiple farmers with city vendors in an effort provide fresh produce to urban deserts.  

Hemp - Trigg Enterprise just recently applied for and received a Hemp production license and  will plant our first crop later this year.

Question 3: 

If elected, how would you use this office to advance equity among farmers and farmworkers in Kentucky? How would you increase the numbers of farms owned by black farmers after decades of racially biased refusal of farm loans? How would you protect the rights of migrant workers, such as those coming to Kentucky with H2A visas, and ensure that farmers are honoring the contracts they sign with these workers?

At one point in time every farmer had a tobacco quota allotment which laid the groundwork for equity.  The hemp/medical marijuana allotment system I’m proposing could help return equity among farmers. 

There is no color in the dollars the quota program I’m promoting would allow all farmers access to loans.  Even though there has been a drastic reduction in the number of black farmers there still exist a significant number of black farm property owners who need something to help them keep their land and make it productive again. 

If we are honest with ourselves, we know that most of the migrant workers are not a part of H2A program ($12 per hr) but the other program ($5-10 per hr) and it’s all about money.  As in the past we don’t like to look at them as humans but instead want to apply a $ sign to them as individuals.   Fortunately, as with slavery, an ever growing number of farmers have become attached to their workers and treating them better but there are still a large number who only see $$.  We need to figure out whose job it is to enforce the program and then hold them responsible.

Question 4: 

Many farmers in southwestern Kentucky installed sizable solar energy systems, thanks in part to programs offered by the Tennessee Valley Authority. What will you do as Commissioner of Agriculture to enable more small farms across the Commonwealth to generate and benefit from renewable energy?

  1. My military travels exposed me to various farming operations around the world with the more advance ones utilizing multiple renewable energy programs.  Kentucky farms can be the shining example of sustainable energy for farmers between; wind, solar, methane gas and other renewable energy sources with the continued support of TVA and a little out of the box thinking.  

  2. Imagine the load off the grid, if every farm had one windmill, all major rooftops covered with solar, tied into hybrid energy efficiency high tunnel/greenhouses (medical marijuana production).  I plan to engage the major players in power generation in expansion of renewable energy related to a small farmer’s grid.

Question 5: 

Given that many Kentuckians face challenges in accessing fresh foods, a number of programs exist in Kentucky to support food access for low-income communities, like Kentucky Double Dollars and the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs. As Commission of Agriculture, how would you support these and similar programs to help Kentucky’s small farms provide healthy and affordable products to more Kentuckians? What role will you play in addressing the many food deserts across Kentucky?

I grew up in a low-income family that benefited from similar commodity programs and we always had a small garden to provide fresh produce.  As a vender in the Sustainable Glasgow award winning “Bounty of the Barrens Farmers Market”, I have directly seen how all of the new programs you mentioned have had an effect on both sides of the table, healthy products to buyers and additional income to vendors.  

I would continue to support these programs.  First let’s recognize that just about every farm has a small garden which in most cases produces more than that family can eat and in a lot of cases goes to waste.   Secondly, this and future generations are less likely to utilize fresh produce due to the direction our society has taken on convenience.  I once attempted to address the food deserts issue with a company called F2CC Inc to provide fresh produce to urban deserts.  I worked with U of L, KSU, United Way and other entities for several years in this effort.  The diversified agribusiness flowchart I would like to implement would have what was missing in earlier attempts, high level state support.

Question 6: 

The legalization of industrial hemp offers new opportunities to Kentucky family farmers. What other opportunities will you seek out to make farming more sustainable and how will you advance these opportunities equitably and sustainably? Do you support  the legalization of medical marijuana as one such opportunity for small farms?

  1. I wrote an opinion ad that was published across the state called “Hemp and Medical Marijuana, A Kentucky Farmers Lifeline” which is the basis for the platform I am running on.  In that article I talk about what both hemp and medical marijuana can do for this state and some avenues that would provide both equitably and sustainability.  

  2. I would implement a quota system similar to the old tobacco quota program.  We don’t want to be like some states where production and therefore use has gotten out of control.  The dollars generated by the controlled diversification of both of these items just like tobacco was, would be the lifeline that saves not only KY farmers but small communities and cities across the state as well.  

  3. Yes, I 100% support the legalization of medical marijuana.  The two crops could be the cornerstones for the expansion or formation of other agribusinesses which could propel us into the future.

Question 7: 

As Commissioner of Agriculture, how will you support small farmers impacted by structural changes in Kentucky’s agriculture and energy economies?

Diversification is the key to equity, profitability and sustainability moving forward.  At one point tobacco production and the income it generated was that key.  An established quota system for hemp/medical marijuana has the potential to be that lifeline and a foundation pillar for saving our farms by the income they could provide.  I would also like another look at the disbursement of Kentucky’s Tobacco Settlement Money (+$120 M) to see where it can be further used to address the structural changes in farm economies.