A collaboration to build a thriving agritech ecosystem in the commonwealth took another major step forward today as Gov. Andy Beshear announced the partnership between governments, universities and companies in Kentucky and the Netherlands added nine new members.
Joining the collaborative effort are the Kentucky Horticulture Council, Kentucky State University and Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, as well as Kentucky-based companies AppleAtCha and Kentucky Fresh Harvest and Dutch companies Arcadis, Delphy, HortiTech and Royal Brinkman.
“It is one of our top priorities to increase agritech and agribusiness opportunities throughout the commonwealth – and today we are meeting this goal,” Gov. Beshear said. “We welcomed nine new partner organizations that are ready to work alongside us to make sure the Commonwealth of Kentucky is the agritech capital in the United States.”
Accompanying Gov. Beshear for the announcement, Dutch Consul General Bart Twaalfhoven said the growing partnership indicates Kentucky is serious about growing its agritech base.
“The commitment of renowned Dutch organizations like Wageningen University and strong Dutch companies like Arcadis, along with the entrepreneurial spirit of new Kentucky businesses like AppleAtcha and Kentucky Fresh Harvest, sends a clear signal to the rest of the United States and the world: Kentucky means business,” Twaalfhoven said.
Established in 2020, the agritech collaboration plans to make the region a hub for the sector’s growth using Dutch knowledge, products and services and positions Kentucky as the agritech capital in the U.S. by 2030. The initiative aims to provide fresh, local and affordable food to more people, use fewer land and natural resources and create sustainable skilled jobs within the sector.
Andre Haspels, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, noted the potential long-term impact of the initiative.
“The Kentucky project aims to improve the local job market and to allow for regional production and distribution of fresh foods in a former coal mining region,” Ambassador Haspels said. “This proposal is key for the development of a sustainable and healthy food production ecosystem in Kentucky, which will also facilitate U.S. and Dutch collaboration among knowledge institutes and businesses. We believe that this proposal will create transformational change in Kentucky's Appalachian Region.”
The agritech partnership includes the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and NLWorks, a public-private network organization initiated by the Dutch ministries of Economic Affairs, Foreign Affairs and the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers.
Existing education partners include the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, University of Pikeville, Berea College, and Netherlands-based HAS University of Applied Sciences and Fontys University of Applied Sciences.
Company partners include AppHarvest, which helped spearhead the initiative, and six Dutch companies: Dalsem, Signify, Certhon, Light4Food, Priva and Rijk Zwaan.
Kentucky is home to more than 200 agribusiness-related facilities that employ over 20,000 people statewide. Since the start of the Beshear administration, companies within the sector have announced creation of over 1,200 jobs with $484 million in planned investment.
The expanded agritech collaboration furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
Gov. Beshear recently announced that on Jan. 28, S&P Global Ratings revised Kentucky’s financial outlook to positive from stable and affirmed its “A-” credit ranking. S&P cited a reduced reliance on one-time items to balance the budget and a higher balance in the state’s rainy day fund as primary factors influencing the change.
That follows a 2021 during which the commonwealth shattered every economic development record in the books. Private-sector new-location and expansion announcements included a record $11.2 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 18,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2021 was $24 before benefits, a 9.4% increase over the previous year.
Kentucky also saw an all-time, record-setting budget surplus in fiscal year 2021 and enters 2022 with an estimated $1.9 billion more than budgeted.
For details on the agritech collaboration between Kentucky and the Netherlands, visit LetsGrowTogether.tech.
More information on the Governor’s AgriTech Initiative is available at AgriTech.ky.gov.