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FRANKFORT FOCUS A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly

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By Tom McKee, Representative Kentucky General Assembly

This week, we will come together as we have for generations to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family and friends.  
Here in Kentucky, we certainly have a lot that we can be thankful for, beginning with the food we eat.  Kentucky farmers play a major role in that effort, with about 10 different commodities – from poultry and cattle to corn and soybeans – bringing in $100 million or more a year.
Americans are greatly benefiting from the gains we have made in agriculture.  
The American Farm Bureau, for example, says the cost of the Thanksgiving meal this year – enough to feed 10 people – is just under $50. When adjusted for inflation, that price is 20 percent lower than it was in the 1980s, when this annual survey began.
Many of our growers are now members of the extremely popular Kentucky Proud program, which makes it easier for all of us to buy top-quality, locally grown products for our own Thanksgiving meal and every other one we put on our tables throughout the year.  
There is even an app for our smartphones that makes it easier to find vendors or businesses that participate.  Kyproud.com has more information, for those who are interested.
As chair of the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee, I have been very pleased to see the growth of Kentucky Proud.  I’m also happy that another program I strongly support – and also sponsored in the General Assembly – is giving farmers another market that at the same time is helping families stay fed.
The Farms to Food Banks program provided enough fruits and vegetables last year to cover 4.1 million meals for those in need. More than 300 farmers took part and earned $1.57 million as a result.
The food banks themselves deserve considerable praise for the work they do each and every day.  
They distributed more than 50 million meals across the commonwealth last year.   They, and other charitable organizations and civic groups that are making sure no one goes hungry this week or during the holidays, are to be commended.
For those not planning to eat at home on Thanksgiving, our own Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park – as well as most other resort parks across Kentucky – will continue the tradition of serving meals on Thursday.  
The restaurant will be open from noon to 8 p.m., and the cost for adults is $19.50, plus tax, while it is $9.50 for children 6 to 12.  Those who are younger eat for free.
Many of our families will be traveling this holiday season, of course, meaning it will be one of the busiest times of the year for traffic.  AAA estimates that almost 50 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more from home.  
With that many vehicles on the road, it becomes even more important to take extra precautions while driving.  Last year, there were nearly 1,700 traffic accidents over the holiday, and eight lost their lives while 480 were injured. Hopefully those numbers will be much lower this week.
Whatever happens, our first responders will be there on our behalf, which is something we should also be thankful for.  
That gratitude also includes those at our hospitals, utilities and other professions that can never take a day off.
As you and your family settle in for the holiday, my family and I want to wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.  
Let me end by saying that serving as your state representative has been a true blessing.