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Friday, December 18, 2015

Corn Yield Contest Winners Announced

Winners from the Kentucky Corn Yield Contest and National Corn Yield Contest were announced this week.

The Kentucky Corn Yield Contest is sponsored by Kentucky Corn and administered by University of Kentucky Grain Crops Extension. Winners will be recognized at the Kentucky Commodity Conference Awards Banquet, January 15, 2016, in Bowling Green.

The National Corn Yield Contest is administered by the National Corn Growers Association, and winners will be honored at the Commodity Classic, March 3-5, in New Orleans, LA.

Kentucky Extension Corn Yield Contest Results:

For all results, visit http://www.kygrains.info/yield-contests.html 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Commissioner-Elect Ryan Quarles to Speak at Kentucky Commodity Conference

Commissioner Ryan Quarels will make his first appearance as Agriculture Commissioner at this years Kentucky Commodity Conference. The conference is the annual meeting of the Kentucky Corn Growers, Kentucky Small Grain Growers and Kentucky Soybean Associations, and will be held on January 15, 2016.

Nearly 400 grain farmers and agriculture professionals attend Kentucky Commodity Conference each year to learn about trends and issues as well as celebrate the year's accomplishments.

This year our Marketing Session will be lead by Dr. Matt Roberts, Ohio State University, and Dr. Todd Davis, University of Kentucky, followed by lunch which will include speaker Commissioner Ryan Quarles and keynote speaker Jennifer Coleman, Ohio Soybean Council.

Later that afternoon, the Associations will hold their annual meetings, followed by the Grower Appreciation Reception and Awards Banquet to celebrate the accomplishments of the year's top producers and volunteer leaders. The night will come to an end with the evening Hospitality event.

You can find registration information and more Kentucky Commodity Conference details here.

Monday, December 14, 2015

2016 Row Crop Risk Management Meetings

Todd Davis, Assistant Extension Professor, will be hosting 2016 Row Crop Risk Management Meetings. Listed below are the topics that will be covered and the locations and dates of each workshop.

Topics Covered:
  • Corn, Soybean and Wheat Outlook and 2016 Price Potential 
  • 2016 Enterprise Budgets 
  • Cash Rents and Machinery Cost Savings 
  • Using RP Insurance to Protect Revenue Risk 
  • Easy Price Risk Management Tools 
  • Developing Your Risk Management Plan for 2016 
Locations/Dates:
(8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
  • January 11, 2016 - Location: Princeton REC
  • January 14, 2016 - Location: Taylor County
  • January 19, 2016 - Location: Hardin County
  • January 20, 2016 - Location: Union County
  • January 21, 2016 - Location: Shelby County
  • January 22, 2016 - Location: Daviess County
  • January 25, 2016 - Location: Warren County
  • February 3, 2016 - Location: Barren County
  • February 15, 2016 - Location: Calloway County
  • February 17, 2016 - Location: Carlisle County
  • February 18, 201 - Location: Fayette County 

There will be complimentary lunch and snacks provided throughout the meeting. For full agenda details, click here.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Kentucky Represented on NCGA Action Teams

This week NCGA Action Teams met in St. Louis, MO to discuss issues the organization faces and long term projects. We were grateful to have Quint and Leah Pottinger represent Kentucky this week in St. Louis. 

Quint served on the Research and Business Development Action Team. "We took a look at long and short terms plans," said Quint Pottinger. "Our main focus was trying to find new uses for corn, that are not region or state specific, to be as useful as possible."

The team focused on actions that would keep the market stable for the next big push within the corn industry. "I am confident all issues we discussed not only effect and benefit all growers, not just Kentucky."

Leah was able to serve on the Grower Services Action Team. "We really focused on how to improve communications to everyone including growers, consumers and customers," said Leah Pottinger. "NCGA is working on releasing an app which will include talking points for our growers when they are talking to consumers, as well as give them immediate information on an arising issue."

"It was invigorating to see the grassroots process at work," said KY Corn Growers Director of Programs, Adam Andrews. "Several committees were very engaged in the process and provided strong input to the NCGA Board of Directors and to the direction of our organization. Kentucky corn farmers should be proud that they were represented very well."


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Kentucky's Agricultural Economy

2015 - 2016 Kentucky Agricultural Economic Situation and Outlook University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment

Contributors: Kenny Burdine, Todd Davis, Tim Woods, Will Snell, Lee Meyer (Ag Economics) and Jeff Stringer (Forestry) 

Kentucky agricultural cash receipts set a record $6.5 billion in 2014, up from the previous record high of $6.2 billion in 2013. UK's Department of Agricultural Economics is projecting that Kentucky ag sales will fall to $6.0 billion in 2015, off 8% from 2014, but still the third highest on record. For the full report, click here


Monday, December 7, 2015

Corn Leaders Excited About New Government Officials

Governor Elect, Matt Bevin, will be inaugurated and sworn into office on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. Commissioner of Agriculture Elect Ryan Quarels, along with all other constitutional officers, will take office on January 4, 2016. KY Corn is excited to work with the new administration and all of the constitutional officers.

KY Corn would like to say thank you to retiring Governor Steve Beshear and Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer for their diligent work and service to Kentucky.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Highway Bill Passes and Includes Crop Insurance Fix

The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is a five-year legislation to improve roads, bridges, transit systems and the rail transportation network.

Also included in the FAST Act is a provision eliminating the $3 billion in cuts to the federal crop insurance program that were included in the budget agreement in late October. The conference report includes language that specifically repeals the insurance cut as of Nov. 2, the date the budget agreement was enacted.

Thursday, December 3, The House voted to pass the FAST Act 359-65. The FAST Act then moved to the Senate side for voting last night. The Senate voted on final passage of the FAST Act, 83-16. The final step will be the President's signature, which should happen before the end of the day.

Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Jean Shaheen (D-NH) forced a vote on the crop insurance provision by raising a point of order against including the repeal provision. The Senate rejected their move, 75-22.

As you may know, Congress recently passed a bipartisan budget deal that included cuts in payments to crop insurance providers. After reviewing the text of the budget and hearing input from our farming community, Senator McConnell went to the Senate floor to participate in a colloquy with Senators Roberts, Cornyn, and Thune where they promised to look at alternative ways to repeal these cuts.

Senator McConnell worked with the conferees appointed to work on the Highway Bill Conference agreement to include a provision that repeals the $3 billion cut to the crop insurance program.

For more details on the FAST Act, click here.

Monday, November 30, 2015

EPA Announces Final Rule on RFS Obligations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The blending requirements were increased to a total of 18.1 billions gallons. This includes 14.5 billion gallons of undifferentiated biofuels or corn ethanol and 230 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol. Refiners must meet these obligations in blending biofuels with gasoline.

"In this decision the EPA has bowed to the Big Oil lobby and stepped away from commitments made to the American farmer almost a decade ago. Now that the system is up and running, changing the rules midstream serves to undermine the very good that was designed when the RFS was passed by Congress and signed by the President," said KY Corn Growers Board member, Joseph Sisk. "Farmers have invested and boosted productivity to supply the system's needs. EPA's unwillingness to simply follow the statute will lead to greater distrust in the farm community when it comes to the EPA and their policies."

The following is a statement from Maryland farmer Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association, in response to today's announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

"America's corn farmers are proud to grow a cleaner burning, renewable fuel source for America and the world. In July, we asked the Environmental Protection Agency to restore the 2014-16 corn ethanol renewable volume obligation to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard as passed by Congress and signed into law.

"While we are pleased to see the EPA take a step forward and revise its original proposal, the fact remains that any reduction in the statutory amount will have a negative impact on our economy, our energy security, and the environment. It is unfortunate that Big Oil's campaign of misinformation continues to carry weight in the court of public opinion, and in this decision.

"The Renewable Fuel Standard has been one of America's most successful energy policies ever. Because of it, our economy is stronger, we are more energy independent, and our air is cleaner. We should be strengthening our commitment to renewable fuels, not backing down.

"In light of the EPA's decision, we are evaluating our options. We will fight to protect the rights of farmers and consumers and hold the EPA accountable."


For more information contact Kirstie Willis, kirstie@kycorn.org.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Big Oil Tries to Kill the RFS, Media Outlets Win

For the past several weeks, the corn and ethanol industry has been in a dogfight with Big Oil. The latest topic is EPA's anticipated announcement of the next round of "RVO's", or Renewable Volumetric Obligations scheduled for the end of November. RVO's are the mechanism inside the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that directs the amounts of ethanol to be blended with gasoline by "obligated parties", or oil refiners. The battle has been ugly and expensive, and there is no end in sight. The oil industry's goal is to chip away at the meaningful parts of the RFS so they can regain their monopoly on liquid automobile fuel. The winner certainly isn't consumers - the winner is the media. Ethanol's side of the story is being outspent four-to-one.

The fight brings interesting players into the arena. Bloomberg reported last week that a Marathon lobbyist authored a dear colleague letter that was placed on a Congressional office's letterhead, asking EPA to scale back the RVO's. And franchise owners of fast food restaurants are aggressively delivering talking points to Congressional offices with the message that hamburgers and drumsticks are more expensive because of the RFS. "That's perplexing," explained Adam Andrews, KyCorn's Programs Director "because the price of corn is cheaper today and for the past few years than it was on the day the RFS passed. All of the other tangibles in their industry are petroleum-related."

There is a political effort underway in the midst of all of this chaos, as well. NCGA, recognizing that EPA is most directly linked to the RVO issue, decided that maybe a campaign to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) would get the attention of EPA's boss, President Obama. KyCorn fully supports the effort. It involves farmers mailing a brief note along with a sample of corn to the political strategy officials in President Obama's and thus EPA's party.

Its premise is to let President Obama know, through the DCCC, that farmers are watching as his employees announce this monumental decision for rural America. NCGA is asking farmers to send a sample of corn from his field with a handwritten message that: on Election Day, farmers will remember how EPA handles this RVO decision. NCGA developed a kit to help farmers do this, but the distribution list was very selective, only farmers who have recently participated in other NCGA grassroots efforts. If you didn't receive a kit, we still want you to participate, KyCorn acquired extras. Send a message to Adam Andrews at adam@kycorn.org, he will get the tools to you ASAP.

The RFS is working, but only if our political leaders stay the course. As an advocate for your industry, the time for you to speak up is upon you.

Monday, November 16, 2015

NASS County Yield Survey

The National Agricultural Statistics Service is currently conducting 2015 yield surveys. Kentucky Corn encourages producers contacted to complete a 2015 yield survey. Many USDA agencies, including the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Risk Management Agency (RMA), use the NASS yield data for their programs. Your ability to share this information will result in more informed producers.

Under the 2014 Farm Bill, FSA uses the NASS county yield data to calculate Agriculture Risk Coverage - County (ARC-CO) benchmark revenues and current year county revenues. For example, the 2014 NASS county yield, along with the crop's marketing year average price (MYA), are used to determine the county's current year revenue to determine if the county will trigger an ARC-CO payment. An ARC-CO payment is triggered for a county when the current year revenue falls below the guarantee revenue for the crop and crop year.

In cases where NASS county yield data is not available, the FSA State Committee must determine a county yield using RMA yield data or the best available yield data, including assigning a county yield using neighboring county yields from NASS or RMA.

There are two surveys used to collect yields, the County Agricultural Production Survey and December Agricultural Survey. Telephone interviewers are currently conducting follow-up for the County Agricultural Production Survey. In late November and early December the December Agricultural Survey will be conducted. Any information that producers provide to NASS is kept confidential and protected by federal law. NASS publishes only aggregate-level data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified. All reports will be available here.

If you have questions about these surveys, or how NASS establishes county yields, please contact David Knopf at David.Knopf@nass.usda.gov or (502) 582-5260.

Friday, June 19, 2015

KyCorn Sponsored KMAT Program Reaches Class Halfway Mark

KMAT Class member from Webster County,
Jarrod Hankins, holds son, Reese,
while with students Stephanie Winstead
and Gabbi Major during the 2015 State KyFFA Convention.
Halfway through the first Kentucky Master Ag Teacher (KMAT) class, the program is already filling a much needed leadership and education void for established ag teachers, according to KyFFA Executive Director, Sheldon McKinney.

KMAT is a two year leadership course for agriculture education instructors in their fifth to tenth year of teaching. The program, which is the brain child of McKinney and KyFFA Advisor, Brandon Davis, was created to take mid-career ag teachers and give them the tools to become better leaders in their school and community as well as mentors for first year ag teachers.

McKinney explained that while the state of Kentucky offers several excellent leadership programs, none worked well with an ag teacher’s schedule.

“It’s really a connection that we saw was missing and we wanted to solve it,” McKinney said. “I approached KyCorn two years ago with the idea and they were all in. We hold four to five meetings a year and KyCorn is the sole sponsor.”

The curriculum includes personality testing, ropes course, scheduling and time management, leadership opportunities and new classroom curriculum trials.

One of the 15 in the first KMAT class, Jarrod Hankins, an ag teacher at Webster County High School, said he enjoys the networking aspect of the program.

“This program helps make our job more efficient. The more we can interact with others in our industry, the more we can enrich our communities.”

“Not only are we getting to interact with leadership across the state and becoming better advocates for the industry, we get the chance to sharpen our swords by bouncing ideas off of each other,” he said.

“Thinking outside the box, stepping outside our comfort zones and bettering ourselves in our careers ultimately benefits the kids to be better, which is the point of our job.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WATERWAYS COUNCIL BRINGS WASHINGTON TO KENTUCKY DAM

KyCorn would like to say thank you to Reggie Tubbs, 
the captain of the James H. Hunter, for hosting WCI and it’s guests. 
Washington reporters descended on Tennessee and Kentucky, June 8-9, to experience and better understand locks and dams and their importance to agriculture and the economy.

Waterways Council, Inc. Senior Vice President, Debra Colbert explained this event was a strategic effort by the council to physically show DC reporters a Lock project.

The Waterways Council (WCI) is a national public policy organization in Washington DC that advocates for a modern and well-maintained inland system of waterways. According to Colbert this is done in three ways. First is lobbying, the second is working with stakeholder groups and the third is communicating with our members and the news media.

"Other organizations will take lawmakers and the general public out to see how something works, but for me, I really think the news media needs to be as involved as any group because they have the ability to process the information given and dilute it down in an easier to understand way that educates their readers about why it is important," she said.

D.C. reporters in attendance included: Jerry Hagstrom, The Hagstrom Report and National Journal; Geof Koss, Energy and Environmental Daily; and Ethan Epstein, Weekly Standard. Locally, Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free-Press and Dave Zoeller from Paducah Sun covered the event.

The second day of the tour brought the reporters to the Kentucky Dam where participants toured a barge hauling coal as well as the construction of the extended Ky Lock. The lock, which is currently 600 ft, will double in size to 1,200 ft once completed. This will allow for an entire barge to go through at once, instead of having to break apart and lock twice. Currently, a barge takes three to five hours to lock through, completed construction will cut that time down to an hour and a half, reducing time and money spent.

KyCorn Board Member and WCI Representative, John Danesi said touring the barge really puts into perspective the amount of grain being transported by the waterways.

"To give you an idea of what a barge is capable of doing, on one barge you can put enough wheat to make 12.5 million loaves of bread. Taking that even further, one tug boat hauls 15 barges."

"Kentucky is fortunate to have over 1,000 miles of navigable waterways, so we use the barge industry a lot for many different purposes," Danesi added. "Most farmers you talk to, talk about hauling grain to the elevator and most of those, not all of them, but most, of our elevators are somewhere on the river. So the barge system really impacts our customers. Whether it's corn, soybeans or wheat, more than likely our farmers are hauling it to the river."

Cobert said she was blown away by the response from the event.

These things are so important to do because in Washington we can talk about why the waterways are important, we can write press releases, we can write columns, but to see it in person really puts it into perspective. When we said goodbye at the airport the reporters said they had no idea how in-depth or exciting it would be to see it. In particularly, Jerry Hagstrom, the ag reporter, was extremely thrilled just to have all those folks assembled in one room to talk about the importance of agriculture."

"We just want to say thank you to everyone who showed up, we felt like rock stars walking into the Core of Engineers briefing rooms, because it was standing room only there were so many people there," she said. "People, who depend on viable waterways, were excited about it and wanted to be part of the opportunity. I am really grateful for everybody's support. It was beyond anything I ever expected."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

WOTUS Back on the Table


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their final version of the revised rule defining Waters of the United States (WOTUS). This Clean Water Act regulation will define which rivers, streams, lakes and marshes fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA.

When it came to defining what is considered WOTUS in the past, KyCorn was concerned the proposed rule represented an unprecedented increase in EPA's jurisdiction and did not want the rule finalized without first undergoing significant revision.

In a statement, President of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), Chip Bowling said, "We cannot comment on the specifics of the revised rule until we have had a chance to fully review it.  We especially will look closely at how on-farm ditches, ponds and puddles are treated in the rule."


Thursday, May 7, 2015

An Issue to Keep on the Radar: The Monarch Population

Pesticides...
Biofuels...
GMO's...
Monsanto...

Bueller. Bueller. Bueller.

Bueller.

The cast of buzzword characters are always the same when it comes to rising environmental issues and what the public want to blame for the cause.

But we already addressed bees, what's the issue now?

Enter the Monarch butterfly population - or the rapidly declining population - if you will.

Monarch numbers began to dwindle due to illegal logging operations in Mexico, but the problem didn't stop there. Loss of habit from urban expansion, land management practices and environmental factors such as drought and hard winters have had a detrimental impact of the Monarch population.

Wait, logging in Mexico, weather, urban expansion? How does this relate to Kentucky farmers?

Farmers are the ultimate caretakers of the land and Monarchs fall into the pollinator category, making the two potential BFF's and as the Beatles said, "We get by with a little help from our friends."


Monarch caterpillars thrive on Milkweed. Milkweed, a herbaceous perennial, grows as a wildflower. The plants grow to about three feet tall and flowers globes of fragment pink variety blooms. Consider planting them in conservation buffers or a small patch in the yard, out of the way of crop fields. Because milkweed does easily spread, KyCorn recommends contacting your local NRCS or Ag Extension Agent for best management practices.

A list of other excellent plants for pollinators, provided by Pulaski Co. Extension, can be found here

KyCorn Awards College Scholarships

Five recipients were selected for this year's KyCorn college scholarship, four high school seniors and one college. The annual scholarship awards $1,000 to each senior and $2,000 to a student in their second plus year of college.

Senior Winners

Amanda Gilles

 

 
Amanda Gilles is a senior at Apollo High School in Owensboro, Ky. Gilles works on her family's farm, Hill View Farms and is active in her local FFA, serving as the chapter President. She will be attending the University of Kentucky in the fall and majoring in Agriculture with an interest in Biotechnology.


 

 


 
Joel Reddick

 

 
A senior at Carlisle County High School in Bardwell, Ky, Joel Reddick plans on attending Murray State University in the fall to study Agronomy.  Reddick is also active in his local FFA, serving as the Chapter President and works on his family's poultry operation.


 

 


Richard "Clay" Smotherman


 

Another future agronomist, Clay Smotherman plans to attend Murray State University in the fall. He is currently a senior at Calloway County High School in Murray, Kentucky. Along with working on his family's tobacco farm, Smotherman is the captain of his varsity basketball team and active his local FFA.

 

 

 

 

 

 
A Martha Lane Collins High School senior from Simpsonville, Ky, Taylor Nash will attend the University of Kentucky in the fall to major in Agriculture Education. Nash serves as the Regional and Local FFA President and is active in his church as a peer mentor and study leader.

 

 

 
College Winner

Elizabeth Hinton

 

A returning recipient, Elizabeth Hinton was awarded a KyCorn High School Senior scholarship for 2014. A Falls of Rough, Ky native, Hinton studies Agriculture Economics at the University of Kentucky and also works as a research assistant in the UK Plant and Soil Science Department.

 

 

Check the education tone at the door, it's time to have conversations about GMO's

Scan headlines in a newspaper or news Website, scroll through posts friends have shared on Facebook or even do a quick Pinterest search for "healthy dinner recipes," no matter where you turn, it is highly probable three letters will show up - GMO. 

It's no secret, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are currently a hot topic. Despite good press recently from the Washington Post and Forbes, fear mongering from documentaries like, GMO OMG, tv personalities such as Dr. OZ and mommy bloggers turned Google scientists, consumers are left feeling confused and skeptical about what is right/wrong and wondering where to find accurate information.

This is where farmers come in. Who better to get the information from than the person planting Bt Corn seed in the ground? Yes, no longer is the ostrich method - head in sand, waiting for the public to find something else to worry about - going to cut it.

"Wait just one minute, I am not a GMO expert. I can't answer consumer questions," might be the thoughts passing through as you read this. Guess what? That's okay!

It's not about educating every consumer in your path. It's about having conversations, being relatable, planting seeds of information and handing them the tools to go forth and draw their own conclusions.

What can I expect to be asked and what can I say?

  • Do GMO's cause cancer? No. Over 1,000 studies have proved GMO's to be safe and pose no greater risk than conventional counterparts.
  • Are companies, like Monsanto, forcing farmers to grow GMO's? Farmers choose the seed they want from the vendor they want. Seed decisions are based on market demand, local growing environments and needs of the specific farm.
  • Are GMO's contaminating organic crops? Farmers have produced different crops next to each other before and since GM seeds entered the market. Management of ANY type of seed requires: farmer-to-farmer communication, crop rotation, buffer rows and recordkeeping.
  • There aren't long-term studies on GMO plants. (This one is more of an accusation.) Actually, there are, GM crops are extensively and repeatedly reviewed by the USDA, EPA and FDA. It takes years for a GM crop to gain approval. The University of Kentucky released an excel sheet compiling every study proving GM crop safety. ( UK excel file linked here.)
  • Why are biotech companies against labeling GMO foods? A label suggests there is a safety or health concern. Which there is not. If a consumer wanted to be certain what they are purchasing is non-GMO, they can purchase items labeling USDA Organic.
Where can I go to learn more?

Having a conversation about GMO's isn't about machine-gunning information, but being well versed on the subject is never a bad thing. These sites offer quality information and links:

KyCorn Takes to Washington for the RFS


Ethanol advocates from across the country descended on Washington, DC the last week of March for an annual "Biofuels Beltway" fly-in hosted by American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE).  Adam Andrews, KyCorn's Director of Programs participated with more than 70 other ACE members to visit about 160 legislative offices representing 43 states. The main priority was to explain how successfully the RFS is working and underscore the importance of not messing with it.  

ACE Executive Vice President, Brian Jennings said "ACE members turned to Congress to convey the importance of keeping the RFS on track for implementation in 2015 and beyond."

According to Andrews, this event was different from other grassroots efforts for ethanol. 

"I usually attend meetings on Capitol Hill with farmers," remarked Andrews. "However in this instance, I attended meetings with non-farm benefactors of the RFS and green energy policy - my advocate partners in these meetings were a pharmacist and a bank board member. It was a fantastic opportunity to explain the important economic multiplier effect that a vibrant ethanol industry provides to rural America."

Just as the meeting participants were not necessarily farmers, the criteria for selecting offices to meet with was not necessarily from those representing traditional corn-belt districts. Many meetings were requested of ethanol critics and members who have arrived in Congress after the passage of the RFS and were unfamiliar with its basic objectives. 

"I believe we made some headway - even though they were just baby steps - in casting some doubt in the minds of well-intentioned ethanol critics who have only heard one-sided stories," Andrews continued. "I don't expect these folks to become our strongest allies, but if we can simply create some pause and show them where to find some balanced, science-based research tools, I believe that it will go far to erode the support of attacks on the RFS in Congress." 

Board Member Heads up Huts for Haiti


“Haiti is the poorest country in the world, it’s so poor it is actually rated as a fifth world country,” KyCorn Board Member Matt Castlen said.
He may be a Sukup grain bin dealer, but Castlen’s latest project doesn’t have his bins being sold to fill with grain, no, lately he and members of the Owensboro community are turning grain bins into homes for Haitian people.
Castlen has been to Haiti on two other missionary trips to help drill for water wells and build churches through Global Outreach Haiti and says words cannot describe the conditions there.
According to him the poverty of Haiti can be credited to the country’s lack of resources.
“Growing up on a farm and then becoming a farmer myself, I’m used to driving down the road and seeing cattle and grain crops, etc. but you won’t see that there. 85-90 percent of goods are imported, so when you have no natural resources it’s hard to have jobs. It’s 11-12 inches of rain a year there and the dirt has a high salt content, so it’s not good for growing much stuff.”
 “Four out of five children die before the age of five in Haiti,” Castlen continued. “So no one really thinks much of them until they get older. You’ll see them running around covered in scabies from sleeping on the dirt and despite their dark skin they will have red hair from the lack of protein in their diet.” 
Castlen said he felt called to do something to help the Haitian people and that’s when he heard about Sukup using their grain bin as homes. 
The Sukup family started building little grain bin home in Haiti after the earthquake of 2010. The homes — or huts — are a standard grain bin with a well-ventilated double roof structure to reflect heat and provide cooler temperatures in their hot environment. Attached to either side of the hut are boxes, filled with soil.  The boxes serve as counter weight in high winds as well as a place to grow fruits and veggies. Also equipped on the outside of the hut is a water collection system designed to funnel rainwater and dew for home use. The last feature can be found inside the hut, a loft that sleeps up to 10 people and provides a place of rest off the dirt. 
This year the team hopes to raise enough money for 10 homes. Building each home will cost nearly $6,000 and an estimated additional $10,000 to ship the materials from the U.S. to Haiti.
“Our goal is to raise $80,000 by July so we can ship the materials, I’m planning on the supplies taking four to five months to clear customs so we will know everything is good before the team makes the trip next February,” he explained.
‘The team’ he is referring to is a men’s group from various churches and of all ages in the community that meet on Wednesday evenings. Together, they have constructed one hut — currently displayed in Thurston — that will travel throughout the community to showcase the cause. As of now, 12 in the group are scheduled to travel to Haiti next year to assemble the huts.
“The neat thing about it as word has gotten out we’ve had five more people come forward and say they are interested in going and that’s what I like about it,” Castlen added. It isn’t about what denomination you’re from or a single group of friends, it’s people from all types of backgrounds coming together.” 
Not only has this project brought new members to the team, according to Castlen, community reaction has been huge. The original fundraising milestone needed to reach $20,000 in April. As of Thursday, April 3, Huts for Haiti had raised $31,000.
“We’ve had calls from several other communities and states wanting to get involved and our community is really excited about it, but what is really neat is other missionary groups from across the country have contacted us wanting to do the same in countries, such as Honduras and Peru.”
“If you had asked me five years ago if I thought I’d be trying to organize and fundraise for this kind of project I would’ve said no way, but I feel God calls everyone to do their part in different ways,” he continued.
According to him, people ask why they are doing this when there are things to be done here in this country. 
 “It’s not our goal to travel to Haiti to be Humanitarians,” he stressed. If you could see how these people live, they have no hope. They are born into poverty, starvation and disease. We are going down there and using the housing to say we do love you, we do care about you and this is what we want to do for you.
“I know building 10 homes a year there isn’t really going to help much, but maybe if more and more people began to step in we could actually change the situation there.”
“KyCorn is proud of our board member’s contributions to their communities and beyond,” Executive Director, Laura Knoth said. “It’s in a farmer’s nature to want to help feed, clothe and house those in need and Matt is a wonderful example of turning that desire into action.”

To learn more about Huts for Haiti or to see how you can help visit hutsforhaiti.org, www.facebook.com/hutsforhaiti or contact Matt Castlen at 270-314-9343.