Every year when farmers go to renew their farm license plates, or “farm tags”, they have the opportunity to donate $10.
The total is divided equally between Kentucky 4-H, Kentucky FFA and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA). Last year’s record total means each group received $243,875.89 to reinvest in our communities for youth development and promotional programs.
One of the highlights of my tenure as Commissioner for Agriculture occurred last year in the midst of a pandemic. I was filled with pride when I learned that Kentucky farmers had voluntarily donated the highest total ever, $731,627.67, in the history of the Ag Tag program. Despite the pandemic, Kentucky farmers have shown just how generous they can be.
As you probably know, FFA and 4-H are two of the premier youth organizations in Kentucky and the country. KDA works every day to promote Kentucky agriculture and teach Kentucky youth the importance of agriculture in their daily lives. That’s why the theme of this year’s Ag Tag campaign is “Building Tomorrow’s Leaders”. Funding from your voluntary donations helps the three organizations fulfill our mission to support Kentucky agriculture for generations to come.
KDA has used its share of Ag Tag funds for various programs such as the Ag Athlete of the Year Awards, Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award, Kentucky Women in Agriculture, and the University of Kentucky Princeton Grain and Forage Center of Excellence, which is rebuilding after being destroyed by a tornado in December.
Half of 4-H and FFA donations go to local councils and chapters, which means leaders in your community can use these funds to cover the cost of 4-H and FFA camp and other leadership programs for our youth. 4-H County Councils use Ag Tag dollars to provide 4-H camp scholarships and trips for life-changing educational experiences to help local 4-H youth grow as leaders and engaged citizens. FFA chapters were free to use the money to meet their community’s greatest needs, such as FFA jackets for students in need or to help cover travel costs to leadership events.
In the coming weeks, as many of you return to your county clerk’s office to renew your farm tags, I hope you will donate the $10. Let’s try to break that record again and, at the same time, help secure a bright future for Kentucky agriculture.
Ryan Quarles is Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture.