Saturday, July 19, 2003

Ky. to put tobacco settlement into farms


Funds to be used for loan program

The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - The Kentucky Agricultural Development Board Friday approved a plan that would earmark $20 million of the state's national tobacco settlement money for a loan program aimed at helping tobacco farmers.

The Kentucky Agriculture Investment Trust would be used to help tobacco farmers secure loans to diversify their crops. Qualified young farmers would also be eligible for low-interest loans to help establish themselves as farmers.

The program would be set up through the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation.

Kentucky gets about $120 million a year from a tobacco settlement fund that was created to settle lawsuits in which the states sought to recoup costs for treating smokers' health problems.

Kentucky has been earmarking half the money for agricultural diversification projects, while the other half has been divided between early childhood development and health care.

This new trust fund could help keep at least some of that tobacco settlement money flowing through the state for years beyond when the money would otherwise have stopped, said board member Sam Lawson.

"This gives it perpetuity now," Lawson said. "This could continue to revolve. And as one farmer repays, these dollars are available then to go out."

Value-added producers in Kentucky could also be helped through the program, spokeswoman Kara Keeton said.

Under the plan, the state would also work with local banks to "buy down" interest rates so farmers could afford loans that would help them diversify, Lawson said.

The plan would also create a revolving loan program for counties seeking to offer similar programs locally. Money for county programs would come from counties' own shares of the tobacco settlement.

Lawson said the trust fund may be operational for farmers before the end of the year.




TOP STORIES
City offer $18M shy of Convergys' liking
Text of Convergys letter
Ohioan top choice to lead UC
Court gives under-bridge squatters temporary delay
Get out there and enjoy the weather

IN THE TRISTATE
Artist's creativity bursts forth
Voting machines to be replaced
Picture of the day: Salute to a Soldier
Tristate A.M. Report

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Faith matters: Students turn beliefs into service

BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Who wears short shorts? Not Fairfield students
Fairfield group to get data on flood control
Mother's wish fulfilled: Both sons come home
Butler meth lab dismantled
Funds sought for new school
Pair charged in bank holdup
Art auction helps cancer patients

OBITUARIES
Rev. Craig Edwards was pastor of year

OHIO
Ohio, Calif. suing AOL Time Warner
Ex-mentor convicted in sex case
Lawmakers OK compromise on student-tally proposal
Teen charged in fireworks injury
Freed prisoner was wrongly convicted
Home-care nurses strike over hours, paperwork
Marathon sued over pipeline dispute
Hotel industry fights bed-tax increase
Flight festival has ups, downs
Ohio Moments

KENTUCKY
Cafes hope music drums up business
Ky. funding decision for farmers market delayed
Mexican consul wants ID accepted
Inmates plead guilty to assault
Ky. to put tobacco settlement into farms
Flood leaves girl awash in faith
Movie excites 'horse country'
Backstreet Boy aims to sell advice
Latter-day pioneers trek through state
Kentucky obituaries