Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles will join University of Kentucky officials, members of the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corp., staff from the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy, other elected officials, and members of the Princeton community to participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the UK Grain and Forage Center of Excellence on Thursday.

The Grain and Forage Center of Excellence at the Research and Education Center in Princeton will use cutting-edge research and outreach efforts to help Kentucky grain and forage producers use sustainable, intensive production practices to better meet the needs of a growing world with minimal environmental impact.

Since the Research and Education Center’s inception, Kentucky producers have relied on UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment experts to help them tackle difficult problems and maximize their profits. Grains and forages are important drivers of Kentucky’s economy and in 2014, corn, soybeans, and wheat generated about $2.2 billion in Kentucky, employed over 26,000 people in production and allied industries, and boosted the 2013 labor-income value by $42.5 million. Forages cover more than 6 million acres and are used to feed livestock and horses, which are industries valued at another $2 billion in receipts each year.

From the needs of Kentucky farmers the idea of the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence emerged. One of the primary goals of the Grain and Forage Center is to help Kentucky farmers feed the world sustainably, protect the environment, expand Kentucky’s economy and pass farms on to the next generation.

The Kentucky Agricultural Development Board awarded UK a grant of $15 million toward the $30 million project. Thanks to numerous producers, commodity organizations, related industries and government leaders, UK will be able to match the $15 million grant over the next five years. The Kentucky Corn Growers Association purchased 294 acres of highly productive land adjacent to the UKREC that the University will lease and other organizations such as the Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board, Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association and Kentucky Farm Bureau will help with the match by providing research grants and contracts to conduct research at the center.

The results of grains and forages research and extension programs at the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence will be applicable to a growing world and will make a true global impact.

The ceremonial groundbreaking will begin at 2PM on Thursday at the UK Research and Education Center on Hopkinsville Street in Princeton.