Two farmers — Joe Trigg of Barren County and Robert Conway of Scott County — are seeking to win the Democratic Party's nomination to advance to the November general election for Kentucky's Commissioner of Agriculture.
The position is currently held by Ryan Quarles, who is seeking another term. Quarles is facing Bill Polyniak in the Republican primary.
Trigg is a Glasgow City Councilman who said he stands for hard work.
“I’ve been around the world, and have had leadership and management positions,” he said, referring to his time in the U.S. Air Force where he served as a chief master sergeant and helped oversee a budget of over $250 million.
Conway farms with his son, and said the industry needs to ensure future generations can turn to agriculture to support their families.
“We’ve lost 11,000 farms in the state of Kentucky in the last 10 years. We now have 75,000 farms left,” Conway said, adding that almost half of the remaining farms in the state record revenue of less than $10,000 annually.
“And you wonder why farms are for sale?,” he said.
Trigg said he’s “100 percent” behind medical marijuana and hemp as ways to help Kentucky farmers.
“We have to figure out a way to help farmers,” Trigg said. “We have a lot of operations that need help.”
Trigg supports a quota system for hemp and medical marijuana, similar to what was once utilized for tobacco farming, so that small and medium-sized farms can also have "a piece of the pie."
"This way can money trickle out and up, versus us waiting on a trickle down," Trigg said.
Conway, a former member of the Scott County Board of Education, supports recreational marijuana, medical marijuana and hemp.
“Whatever it takes to help the farmers,” he said. “It’s the only thing out there that can help everybody.”
Kentucky needs to do more to support small farms, Conway added. He said the position requires someone who has farmer’s best interests at heart. He blamed the decline in tobacco farming in Kentucky on the influence of big tobacco industries.
“You need a commissioner that’s going to be an overseer of what’s happening,’ Conway said. “If you’ve paid attention in the last four months, you have noticed that big tobacco has bought in to the hemp program, and that should scare you, because I know where that’s going to go.”
Trigg also emphasized the need to encourage agricultural interest in younger generations.
“This younger generation needs the motivation to get involved in politics and farming,” he said.
Both candidates said the party needs to support whomever wins the primary.
“We need to do everything we can to go blue. We need to get the red off. We have a good set of candidates and we need to make sure our guy wins,” Trigg said.