By Bill Robinson, Richmond Register– With the Nov. 3 general election less than seven weeks away, candidates for state offices are making more frequent visits to Madison County.
On Friday morning, state Rep. Ryan Quarles of Georgetown, Republican nominee for agriculture commissioner, addressed cattle farmers at the Madison County Stockyards. He also made a midday visit to University Club at Arlington.
Quarles said he wants to strengthen the state’s already successful Kentucky Proud marketing program both domestically and abroad. And his background, training and experience make him uniquely qualified to do that Quarles said, especially when it come to promoting the state’s farm exports.
He earned two master’s degrees from the University of Kentucky, one in agricultural economics and another in international relations, and previously worked for the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Foreign Agriculture Service.
About 80 percent of Kentucky’s tobacco crop is sold to international buyers, Quarles said, and he would keep a watchful eye as international trade agreements are negotiated to ensure Kentucky farmers’ interests are considered. If elected, he will work to help Kentucky farmers get the maximum benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other agreements, Quarles said.
Elected three times to the state House of Representatives, Quarles serves on the chamber’s Agriculture/Small Business, Education and Banking/Insurance committees.
His legislative experience would help him get proposals through the General Assembly in a bi-partisan spirit, Quarles said. And he is one of only a few Republicans to get legislation through the Democratic-controlled House in recent years.
The state’s farmers do not want agriculture to be the subject of partisan contention, Quarles said.
In addition to his two other graduate degrees, Quarles earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard and a law degree from UK.
Although he works primarily as a lawyer and legislator, Quarles said he still helps on his family’s Scott County farm, following more than a century of family tradition.
Quarles said he would have two other main goals if elected.
One is education. Adults as well as children need to understand where their food comes from, he said. And public understanding of agriculture would result in more favorable treatment of farmers by state and national governments.
The other goal would be “pushing back” against what he called unnecessary environmental regulations.
Environmentalists have falsely identified farms as a major source of water pollution, Quarles said. And the federal Environmental Protection Agency has prepared 300 pages of proposed regulations that he said would “cripple” Kentucky farms.
The farming community has commissioned independent studies that show farms are not to blame for stream pollution, Quarles said.
Farmers who depend on soil and water quality for their livelihoods are naturally inclined toward conservation, he added. And the Kentucky Farm Bureau also has identified water quality as one of its core issues.
On Monday, Andy Beshear, Democratic nominee for attorney general, addressed a Madison County Democratic Woman’s Club picnic at Lake Reba Park. A report on his remarks will be published in an upcoming issue of The Register.