Ag commish candidate B.D. Wilson calls for tax break on horse feed

01/18/2011 07:07 PM

B.D. Wilson, a Democratic candidate for state agriculture commissioner, said the horse industry has “died a slow death” and needs a tax break on feed to help it bounce back after slipping behind the poultry industry last year.

“This is nothing against Kentucky Fried Chicken, but I think that somebody needs to take the lead on doing something with the horse industry,” he said. “It’s not about the thoroughbreds.”

The legislature has previously considered but not passed such a proposal to exempt horse feed from state taxes.

Revenues for the poultry industry topped $911 million in 2009 while the horse industry — including stud fees — had revenue of $780 million, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture figures that were released in September.

Wilson, the former Montgomery County judge-executive who was rural roads commissioner for two years during Gov. Steve Beshear’s term, also said he would continue to support tobacco growers, if elected.

“Tobacco is still part of our farming community,” he said. “If there’s a way we can help a tobacco farmer — and my son-in-law is a very large tobacco farmer in Clark County — we need to help them just like we do every part of the ag community.”

Wilson said he doesn’t favor a proposal for a statewide smoking ban and would rather leave the issue up to local communities.

He was a member of the Lexington health board in 2003 when the community first took up a ban of smoking in public places. Wilson told the Herald-Leader in a March 23, 2003, article that he thought such a ban was unconstitutional and would cause friction with growers in rural counties.

Wilson said on Pure Politics he has tempered those views:

Wilson, who resigned from the Transportation Cabinet in September to run for the ag commissioner job, said he “left on good terms” with Beshear. Wilson said he hasn’t asked for Beshear’s support in the four-candidate Democratic primary for agriculture commissioner and hasn’t received it.

“I’m going to wish him the very best — just like he’s going to wish me the very best,” Wilson said.

Wilson has raised just shy of $49,000, according to his finance report filed earlier this month. He loaned his campaign $10,000 of that.

He said he believes it will take raising $250,000 in the primary.

Here’s the second part of the interview in which Wilson answers questions about the horse industry, his campaign and his view of incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer.

Wilson served as Montgomery County judge-executive for 14 years until Beshear appointed him to the post in the transportation cabinet in 2008.

He previously owned a men’s clothing store and his family ran a stockyards in Montgomery County.

Wilson is one of four Democrats who have filed for Agriculture Commissioner in this May’s primary. Stewart Gritton, an Anderson County farmer and retired Ag Department employee, will be on Wednesday night’s edition of Pure Politics. Robert Farmer, a Louisville-based marketing consultant, and David L. Williams of Glasgow also have filed.

On the Republican side, state Rep. Jamie Comer of Tompkinsville and Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger are running in the GOP primary.

The agriculture commissioner manages a $27 million budget and oversees regulation of food commodities and school lunches, checks gas pumps and fair rides and promotes Kentucky agriculture products.

- Ryan Alessi


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