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Friday, December 12, 2014

CORE Students learn about Florida-Georgia agriculture through bus trip

Participants of KCGA’s third CORE class recently returned  from a six day bus tour highlighting agriculture in areas of Florida and Georgia.

The trip is part of the program’s curriculum, but the general location of the bus tour is decided by the class.

According to Adam Andrews, Programs Director of Kentucky Corn Growers Association, class-influenced curriculum is one of the things that makes this program different from others.

“As we go through the program we take notes on what they are interested in learning from sessions and build the program around that.”

Combining interests from Class III with the guidance of Andrews and UK Extension Specialist, Dr. Chad Lee, the bus tour visited the Gulf of Mexico, beginning in the Apalachicola River Estuary — the largest producer of oysters in the Gulf. Then traveled to Potash Corp, a phosphate mine in White Springs, Florida.
Brain Kilzer of Savannah Marine Terminal (SMT) explains to CORE participants how his company transfers DDGS, a co-product of ethanol, from a hopper railcar (originating from the Midwest) to a shipping container (for export to Asia).  SMT is a private company that was established in 2007, the same year the RFS was enacted.  The company initially specialized in DDGS but has since expanded to export other agriculture products, such as soybean meal.  SMT employs about 30 full-time workers at three facilities in Savannah.

After Florida, the bus made it’s way to Georgia for a stop in Valdosta the home of National Corn Yield Contest winner, Randy Dowdy. The next couple of stops focused on the cotton industry, with an educational overview at the Univ. of Georgia, and a look at the harvesting process at Ben Boyd’s farm in Sylvania.

The final stop was The Port of Savannah, where wheat and cotton are the two highest volume agricultural commodities to leave the Port.  

Class III participant and Taylor County farmer, Tyler Reynolds said his favorite stop was The Port of Savannah. 

“It was overwhelming the volume they deal with,” he said. “Trucks were constantly coming in and out, then with the containers and loading the vessels, it was just unbelievable.” 

Even though agriculture along the Gulf is different than Kentucky, Reynolds explained there were still aspects of farming that could be applied to both locations. 

“It was really interesting learning about how proactive Randy Dowdy is in his management practices. I think we could take some of that and apply those principles at home,” he added. 

Looking past the educational part of the bus tour and other CORE sessions, Reynolds expressed the most beneficial part of this program is the networking opportunities. 

“Getting to meet other farmers and ag industry people in Kentucky, and having those people you can talk to and pull information from is invaluable,” he concluded.  

If you are interested in participating in Kentucky Corn Growers next CORE class, contact Adam Andrews at adam@kycorn.org.

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