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Ryan Quarles: Renewing ‘ag tags’ an important step in supporting state’s youth agricultural programs

Every year, when farmers go to renew their farm license plates, or “ag tags,” they have the opportunity to make a $10 donation.

The total is divided equally among Kentucky 4-H, Kentucky FFA, and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA). Last year’s unprecedented total meant each group received $243,875.89 to invest back into our communities for youth development and promotional programs.

Ryan Quarles

One of the highlights during my time as your commissioner of agriculture came last year in the middle of a pandemic. I was filled with pride when I learned Kentucky farmers voluntarily donated the highest-ever total, $731,627.67, in the history of the Ag Tag Program. Despite the pandemic, Kentucky farmers showed how generous they can be.

As you likely know, FFA and 4-H are two of the leading youth organizations in Kentucky and the nation. KDA works every day to promote Kentucky agriculture and teach Kentucky’s young people about the importance of agriculture in their everyday lives. That’s why this year’s Ag Tag campaign theme is “Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders.” Funding from your voluntary donations helps all three organizations fulfill our mission to sustain Kentucky agriculture for generations to come.

KDA used its share of the Ag Tag funds for various programs such as the Ag Athlete of the Year awards, the Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award, Kentucky Women in Agriculture, and the University of Kentucky Grain and Forage Center of Excellence in Princeton, which is rebuilding after being destroyed by a tornado in December.

Half of the 4-H and FFA donations are returned to local councils and chapters, meaning leaders in your community are able to use those funds to cover the cost of 4-H and FFA camp and other leadership programs for our youth. County 4-H councils use Ag Tag dollars to provide 4-H camp scholarships and travel for life-changing, educational experiences to enable local 4-H youth to grow as leaders and engaged citizens. FFA chapters were free to use the money to meet the greatest needs in their community, such as FFA jackets for students in need or helping cover travel costs to leadership events.

In the weeks to come, as many of you head back to your county clerk’s office to renew your Ag Tags, I hope you will make the $10 donation. Let’s try to break that record again and, at the same time, help ensure a bright future for Kentucky agriculture.

Ryan Quarles is Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture.

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