Beshear announces plans to build ‘America’s AgriTech capital’ in Kentucky

Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 11:25 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday plans to build America’s AgriTech capital in Kentucky:

WATCH LIVE: Gov. Beshear announcing ‘major’ AgriTech developments

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Posted by WKYT on Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The governor says he signed an international agreement with 16 other partner organizations, including the Dutch government, that are committed to the same goal.

The international agreement group was brought together by a company called AppHarvest which is creating one of the largest controlled environment agriculture facilities in the world. The agreement is committed to the creation of America’s AgTech capital in Appalachia.

Gov. Beshear says it will help stabilize our country’s food supply and jump-start the eastern Kentucky economy.

“In Kentucky, we’re going to reopen and rebuild our economy even stronger than it was before COVID-19,” said Gov. Beshear. “Partnerships like this one highlight our state’s 21st century leadership and limitless potential. I can’t wait to see the AgriTech industry continue to grow in Eastern Kentucky, led by AppHarvest and other companies that are reimagining the future of farming.”

The governor says Kentucky’s central geographic location provides a huge advantage in AgriTech: AppHarvest’s tomatoes can reach 70% of Americans in a day’s drive. That means fresher food and far less food waste as grocers benefit from the extended shelf life. Growing fruits and vegetables closer to where people eat them also helps prevent the frustrating supply issues that COVID-19 continues to reveal, caused by America’s increasing reliance on agricultural imports.

The AppHarvest CEO says the reason why tomatoes are so important is that right now the eastern seaboard depends on Mexico for millions of pounds of tomatoes each year.

The guiding agreement calls for a series of research programs, construction of a center of excellence and the building of additional private infrastructure similar to AppHarvest’s 2.76 million-square-foot farm that opens this fall in Morehead.

AppHarvest is already planning on 285 jobs in the Morehead area.

As part of the agreement, the partners also commit to opening a Dutch representative office in Kentucky to spur investment in the state by Dutch companies, which are recognized as the world’s AgriTech leaders.

“We didn’t reach this agreement overnight,” said Gov. Beshear. “It is the result of years of preparation and international cooperation, and I couldn’t be more grateful that each of these partners worked together to make it possible. The world is starting to recognize something Kentuckians have seen all along: our Appalachian region’s remarkable promise.”

Gov. Beshear says he also established an AgriTech Advisory Council to guide the commonwealth’s increased focus on this industry that will expand the state’s economy and create jobs for Kentuckians.

He announced the state has launched a new website, Kentucky AgriTech:

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