Bob Farmer says he wants to improve Ag Office marketing, but doesn't have plan yet

09/07/2011 06:46 PM

Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner Bob Farmer touts his marketing skills as the main asset he would bring to the office but struggled to describe his marketing plan for department in an interview on Pure Politics.

Farmer, who runs a marketing company that counts the “Farmer’s Almanac” as a client, criticized the department’s current marketing efforts of Kentucky food products but couldn’t describe how he would improve them.

The Kentucky Proud program that markets Kentucky-raised and grown products is funded through $765,000 in grant money through Agriculture Development Fund board, as well as about $200,000 more in additional grants. The two-year budget for the program — which includes state salaries of employees who work on the program — is about $3 million, according to the department’s budget.

“I’m going to have an audit of the entire department,” Farmer said. “I’ve got a feeling that there is a lot of waste that’s been going on. And everything is going to be transparent in this audit.” (see the 4:20 mark of the clip)

When pressed on whether he had a marketing plan, Farmer replied that you can’t buy a car until you test drive it and he doesn’t have the keys to the car yet.

“I don’t think there is a combined effort in marketing in that department. I see a lot of things where the Kentucky Proud logo is not even being used, when it should be used,” Farmer said. (see the 5:00 mark of the clip)

But Farmer said he will assess the marketing plan of the Ag Department and come up with a better plan if he wins office.

Farmer also said farming experience isn’t necessary to run the Department of Agriculture, which works with Kentucky farmers but also regulates gas pumps and amusement park rides.

Farmer disagreed with former Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Billy Ray Smith, who told Pure Politics farming experience is a necessity.

“He was a good commissioner. But now it’s time for Agriculture 2.0,” Farmer said. “And what we don’t need is more Frankfort and we don’t need more politicians that are looking for a step stone to move forward.” (see the 3:00 mark of the clip)

Farmer also discounted his opponent, Republican State Representative James Comer, for his political and farming experience. Farmer said his public speaking and marketing experience make him better qualified.

“Keep in mind, I’m a professional speaker. I’ve done that for 30 years. Nobody can advocate and lobby and speak better than I can,” Farmer said (see the 3:57 mark of the clip)

An audit of the Agriculture Department is first on Farmer’s agenda, if he were to be elected, after selling the current commissioner’s $35,000 SUV, he said.


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