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Survey drawing winners

Guest Opinion: The New Energy Crisis: Food, Feed, or Fuel

Ag census gives farmers a chance to be heard

Power vote

Back in Hardscratch

Co-op Postcard: Cooperative scouts

Survey drawing winners
Thank you to every one of the 7,571 readers who filled out and returned the 2007 Kentucky Living Survey from the October magazine. You can read the full results on the Web site by typing “2007 Survey” in the Keyword Search box and clicking “Go.”

And a special congratulations to the five randomly selected survey respondents who will each receive $50 as a “thank-you” for being a part of the survey.

Those winners are: Richard Rohr, Thelma; Jim Morehead, Bowling Green; Gary Hall, Putney; Reynold Moore, Radcliff; and Donna Thomerson, Glasgow.
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Guest Opinion: The New Energy Crisis: Food, Feed, or Fuel
Dr. Pearse Lyons

With the growing popularity of ethanol, corn prices are rising and the world is finding itself in the midst of a competition between food, feed, and fuel. Innovative technology is the key to winning this battle and we must look to science to find further answers.

The United States government has set a target of 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels by 2017, a plan that would require an astounding 350 million tons of corn annually. To meet this goal, we would be required to use every gram of grain currently produced in the United States. In other parts of the world, Europe is looking at 200 million tons of corn for renewable fuels production, while China is targeting 50 million tons.

These goals look to have an enormous impact on the future of animal production and, ultimately, the world’s food supply. Consider this: global feed requirements for pig and poultry production alone can be expected to increase from 1,050 million tons in 2000 to 2,082 million tons in 2050.

How do we begin to address this looming crisis? The answer lies in cellulose, and Alltech has the technology, vision, and wherewithal necessary to maximize its potential, starting in Kentucky.

With a recently awarded $8 million incentive package from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, we are one step closer to building the Rural Community Biorefinery in Springfield. Pending a grant from the Department of Energy, the innovative facility will be the first not only in the state, but in the country, to utilize cellulose, such as switch grass, corn cobs, corn stover, and kudzu at levels up to 30 percent of its raw material for conversion to ethanol and other value-added products.

To further reduce the burden of using corn for ethanol, the facility will also have the capability to produce algae, a plant that needs little besides sunlight and carbon dioxide. According to National Geographic, algae can produce 5,000 gallons of biofuel per acre per year, whereas corn can produce 400 gallons per acre. Additionally, algae can absorb up to 450 tons of carbon dioxide per acre when grown commercially, minimizing our carbon footprint.

Through innovation and technology, Alltech aims to help provide adequate levels of food and energy to meet the needs of the world’s growing population. Let us seize this opportunity and continue the drive for innovative ways to provide the world’s energy while leaving corn for what it should be—food.

Dr. Pearse Lyons is president of Alltech Inc., a global biotechnology company based in Nicholasville.
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Ag census gives farmers a chance to be heard
Kentucky farm operators along with farm operators across America are about to participate in the nation’s largest, most detailed statistical portrait of U.S. agriculture—the 2007 Census of Agriculture.

The census will provide a comprehensive picture of agriculture at the county, state, and national levels. America’s farmers have the opportunity to make their voices heard and help shape the future of agriculture for years to come. The Kentucky Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in Louisville will coordinate agricultural census activities for the Commonwealth.

Leland Brown, Director of NASS’ Kentucky Field Office, says the need for reliable statistics about Kentucky’s farmers has never been greater. Conducting the agricultural census is the only way to get information to measure how successful many of the state initiatives and marketing assistance programs have been. The success of these new programs and how fast and how much they have grown will be shown by what producers report on the 2007 Census of Agriculture.

According to Brown, the Agricultural Census shows a geographic picture of American and Kentucky agriculture: the changing crop and livestock patterns in agriculture, economic conditions and operating costs of farm operators, and the sources of marketing and income.

NASS mailed out census forms on December 28 to collect data for the 2007 calendar year. Completed forms are due by February 4, 2008. Producers can return their forms by mail or, for the first time, they can fill out the Census online via a secure Web site.

Agriculture census data serve as a foundation for agricultural statistics. They are widely used by farm organizations, legislators, and those who provide goods and services to farmers and ranchers.

The census report form is detailed, but all information on individual farm operations is kept confidential by law. Statistical results are aggregated and published only in geographical summaries to prevent identification of individual farms.

A farm, for census purposes, is any place from which at least $1,000 worth of agricultural products were produced and sold or could have been sold during the census year.

For more information about the 2007 Census of Agriculture, contact the NASS Kentucky Field Office at (800) 928-5277 or visit online.
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Power vote
How the people of Monticello made energy history
by Paul Wesslund

Kentucky Living welcomes the 3,400 new subscribers of Monticello. They now receive the magazine as a result of voting to join South Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative.

Proud as we are of this magazine, the importance of November’s 874 to 428 election-day decision goes far beyond the pages you’re holding in your hands.

It’s as significant as a group of Kentuckians taking charge of the future of the energy they use. It’s as profound as people using their democratic power.

It’s a story that started more than 100 years ago. But it’s all about the latest news in the energy business. And it shines a light on the unique nature of electric utilities in America.

Monticello’s first electricity provider came in 1905 in the form of a private utility. Today, most cities get their electricity from these kinds of investor-owned utilities, organized to make a profit for the investors that own them.

In 1954, Monticello changed to a different form of utility ownership, becoming the Monticello Electric Plant Board. Under that arrangement, Monticello residents were served by what is called a municipal utility. Municipal utilities are owned by the public, through a unit of government like a city, or a publicly organized power district like an electric plant board.

During those mid-century decades, a third form of utility ownership started to emerge and grow. In the 1930s, farmers, frustrated that investor-owned utilities didn’t see any profit in serving people outside of large cities, started organizing themselves into electric cooperatives.

Today more than 900 electric co-ops in 47 states make up about 10 percent of the electric utility industry. In Kentucky, 26 electric co-ops serve more than 800,000 homes and businesses.

One of those co-ops is South Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative based in Somerset. South Kentucky serves more than 62,000 homes and businesses in 13 counties along the Tennessee border. That service area includes Wayne County around Monticello.

So when the leadership of the electric plant board sat down several years ago to examine the future of its energy supply, they naturally looked to South Kentucky Electric Co-op, which surrounds the city, as one of the better options.

“All you have to do is watch the news, and you can see how energy is going,” says Gary Dishman, superintendent of the Monticello Electric Plant Board. “MEBP is a Mom & Pop store in a Wal-Mart world—a small utility trying to find affordable power.”

“The news” Dishman refers to includes rising energy prices, meeting demand for the increasing use of electricity, and environmental concerns like global warming. Tackling those tricky business conditions would be much easier as a larger utility.

South Kentucky Rural Electric Co-op saw several advantages for its members as well. Those included use of the Monticello Board headquarters building, more efficient regional use of substations and power lines, as well as spreading costs over a larger number of members, benefiting the users of both utilities.

The leadership of the two utilities agreed that a sale of the Monticello Electric Plant Board to the South Kentucky co-op would benefit all the ratepayers involved.

But in a democracy, what the leadership thinks is not the final word. That belonged to the voters of Monticello.

Last fall’s campaign featured lively public discussions among those in favor and those opposed. Issues covered included what would happen to electric rates, and whether the $4.686 million selling price was adequate.

Satisfied with the answers, the people of Monticello agreed to join the South Kentucky co-op by more than a 2-1 margin.

The voters chose their energy future. And they didn’t even give up that right to choose. Since they will be joining a cooperative, they will be part-owners, and will continue to have a voice in how it is run.

And to help them be effective and knowledgeable utility owners, they’ll be able to stay informed about the energy industry by reading their monthly subscription to Kentucky Living.

So to the people of Monticello, welcome, and congratulations.
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Back in Hardscratch
On Highway 55, between Columbia and Lake Cumberland, there’s a place called Hardscratch. Don’t look for it on a map, but you’ll recognize it by the general store of the same name.

Hardscratch Country Store owner Ken Hill says that apparently Civil War veterans in the late 1880s remarked to each other that people in Glens Fork (that’s a place you can find on a map) had to scratch hard for a living. Since then locals have called this community Hardscratch.

Stepping into the general store is like going back a hundred years. People stop to buy groceries, art, antiques, and something to eat. The day I visited, a cardboard sign announced the Special of the Day: Chocolate Gravy.

Chocolate gravy can give life to breakfast, especially on a cool morning. Think of it as milk gravy with cocoa and sugar added. You have to heat and stir, of course. Let it cool a few minutes and enjoy.

They also sell “fresh gasoline,” according to another sign. Be sure and fill up for your return trip back to the 21st century. —Bob Helvey

Hardscratch Chocolate Gravy

2 Cups milk
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
4 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. Cocoa
1 Cup sugar

Mix sugar, cocoa, and flour together in a bowl. Melt butter with milk in a saucepan. Add cocoa mixture into saucepan, stirring constantly over medium heat until no lumps are visible. Continue stirring until mixture reaches desired thickness. Serve this amount with approximately 6-8 open-faced biscuits.

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Co-op Postcard: Cooperative scouts

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