By Raed Battah –
Jack Crowner, 73, is the “Voice of Kentucky Agriculture” in Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Morocco. That’s the message he received from his son, Mark Crowner, when he visited North Africa and the Middle East with Presbyterian USA.
“You’re loud and clear in Syria, Dad,” read an e-mail from Mark Crowner to his father. A few days later, the message was the same. “You’re loud and clear in Morocco.”
Crowner was speaking today at an Ag Awareness Breakfast at the Warren County Justice Center as part of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce’s Ag Awareness Week.
Perhaps the Syrians aren’t so concerned about the price of Kentucky beef. But the technology that makes the information available to Syrians and Moroccans is the same technology making it available to Ohioans, Tennesseans, Carolinians and others across the country who are very interested in local prices.
“That gives you some kind of idea where agriculture is heading with the use of computers,” Crowner said. “In Ohio, 80 percent of farmers under the age of 45 are computer savvy. Five years ago it was 10 percent. They do their bookkeeping on computers and can check markets regularly.”
In the 54 years Crowner has been broadcasting ag reports, he’s seen a lot of changes in the industry.
“Back then you either did it live or just didn’t do it,” he said. “We’ve come a long way.”
Crowner said it was just one example of the new state of agriculture in the 21st century. Biotech, GPS and Internet technology have all taken farming from the quiet country store to the billion-dollar commodity market. To stay on the cutting edge, Crowner started doing an Internet broadcast on farm market reports at www.efarmcredit.com. He reports futures closings, mercantile exchange prices and sales from area auction markets.
Crowner also owns and operates the Farm Service Radio Network, serving radio stations in Kentucky, Indiana and nearby states providing farm news and information daily over rural radio stations.
The network’s Web presence is at www.crownerfarmnews.com.
Crowner said Kentucky agriculture producers are right in the thick of the industry with major contributions in grain and livestock production.
“Cattle and commodities out of Barren and Warren counties make them the number one and number two counties in production for the state in a lot of areas,” he said. “We may have lost the tobacco base, but it may be a blessing in disguise. It’s forced us to consider other products such as cattle.
“Kentucky is an unusual state,” he said. “It’s the largest cattle state east of the Mississippi.”
Tobacco has not been completely snuffed out, though, he said.
“Tobacco is still a vital product,” he said. “The chemicals that come out of the tobacco plant, for medicinal and other uses, are yet to be discovered.”
He also said Kentucky has expanded in the poultry, soybeans and biodiesel markets, as well.
“We haven’t even scratched the surface,” he said. “I remember 30 years ago, Alan Toy farm in Henderson was the first time I ever heard of a soybean.”
Biotechnology is and has been, Crowner said, an essential part of agriculture for years, despite some misgivings about the products
“Some say they’re against biotech,” he said. “We’ve had biotech since I was a kid. Who in here’s never had a seedless watermelon, or a seedless grape?”
Crowner’s family owned a 90-acre farm in DeWitt, Mich., until 2004. As a farmer, he grew corn, oats, wheat, hogs and dairy cattle. He has lived in Kentucky since 1957.
Darrell Dickerson of the Kentucky Soybean Association said Crowner has been serving farmers his reports for generations.
“I’ve listened to his work for years and have admired his broadcasting since I was a kid.” he said. “In my younger days, it was our only source of market information.
“Now with his Internet broadcasting, the legend lives on.”
Crowner’s address was the finale of a week of ag-based events, forums, tours and education sponsored by the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee. Program coordinator Melanie Kington said the week was successful.
“Everything went really well this year,” she said. “We had great attendance and had people that had never attended any Ag Week events and they learned a lot about Warren County’s ag background.”
Source: Bowling Green KY News