Kentucky farmers celebrated at State Capitol

Published 4:17 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2023

By Tom Latek, Kentucky Today

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – It’s not often you see farm machinery on the grounds of the State Capitol, but on Thursday, the equipment was there to help mark Farmer Appreciation and Award Day, sponsored by Raising Hope, a group supporting healthy lives on Kentucky farms.

Ag Commissioner Ryan Quarles spoke on the importance of farming in Kentucky. “It’s the second-largest employer across the commonwealth. Over the past eight years, let me say what an honor it’s been to represent you, to help be one of many voices here in Frankfort, Washington DC, and abroad, to say Kentucky agriculture is something to make us all proud.”

He told the farmers at the event, “Thank you for what you do, because here in the commonwealth we’re part of one of the safest, most abundant food supply system in the world. Now we have resources like Raising Hope to help address unfortunate and sometimes tough conversations that need to be had across rural Kentucky.”

Babette Overman, coordinator of Raising Hope, says impetus for the group began around 2 ½ years ago at an agricultural event. “This was a time when statistically it became apparent that the suicide rate among farmers and farm families skyrocketed.”

As a result, she said, task force was created under the auspices of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDE), where participants wondered, “Why don’t we start an entity where we can begin to show our farmers how much we appreciate them, create programs that will help farmers and farm families mentally and physically?”

According to Overman, there was a combined $500,000 in awards from the KDE, General Assembly and Tobacco Settlement funds, followed by another $500,000 from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, to help found Raising Hope.

Services from Raising Hope include health screenings, Overman said. “They are testing for all sorts of things and are now actually able to give vaccines.  Flu, COVID, we do it all. Through those health screenings, we know of eight people whose lives we saved. If we had saved just one life, that was important.”

Health screening services are provided by the nursing programs at Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky.

They also assisted in establishing mental health services through the 9-8-8 hotline, which is now available statewide for anyone to call who may be suffering from mental health issues.

Find out more about Raising Hope services by going to