Editorial by Chad Hobbs
Little did I know that the beginning of my employment here at the paper would coincide with local farmers being flat out lied to about the future of the grainery just outside of Brandenburg. Consolidated Grain and Barge told them everything would be fine. Local elected officials told them everything would be fine. Then, October 2019 rolled around, and the wheels began to fall off that story. The curtain of closed-door meetings and confidentiality agreements started to be pulled back, and it ultimately revealed everything would not be fine. The farmers would be left out in the cold without a grainery, rules and laws would be bent and broken, and lies seemed to fill the air.
The farmers repeatedly begged for truth, transparency, and to be involved in the conversation. With none of this being provided, the group was left with no other option than to file suit against the county, Nucor and CGB. That is much the way it has stood, as the pandemic delayed both the courts and the world as a whole. Unfortunately, the dishonesty from elected officials has not been delayed but in fact, has continued full steam ahead.
Judge Executive Gerry Lynn, Industrial Development Authority Chairman David Pace, and Magistrate Billy Sipes met with a group of farmers not too long ago. The gist of that meeting was to inform the farmers that Meade County could have a new grain-handling facility if it were not for the farmers’ lawsuit against the county. All the grain growers had to do was drop their lawsuit. Politicians put the blame on the farmers in a bid to get the litigation to end.
There was only one problem. This was a lie. It turns out, there has been some interest by several different grain purchasing companies in replacing the void left by CGB’s departure. It also turns out that those companies could care less about the ongoing lawsuit the farmers have against the county and have said as much.
So once again, our leaders have failed to lead. Instead of just doing the right thing and standing tall, they have chosen to refuse transparency and embrace deceitfulness for their own personal gain. When confronted with proof that their bluff was bunk, they were forced to admit they had knowingly lied to the farmers in hopes of making the lawsuit disappear. Sadly, they seem determined to cut off their nose to spite their face. If they would just do what they were elected to do, quit playing dirty pool and work as hard at getting a new grain company here as they do at covering their own backsides, the lawsuit would more than likely disappear.
State Representative Nancy Tate would not allow herself to be left out of the deceit party either. She recently took to social media claiming, “due to the lawsuit filed by the Lincoln Trail Grain Growers Association, our local leadership have not been able to start negotiations with two graineries interested in developing in our region. While their original intent was to protect the farmers, they alone are hampering our ability to do just that – protect the farmers.”
The same lie told from another mouth. The grain companies have no issue admitting they could care less about the lawsuit. If only our politicians would embrace transparency and honesty the way that two corporations with no ties, as of yet, to this county clearly display.
“I am sure you also heard that last year I had secured $2 million to attract and develop a grainery to replace CGB,” Tate went on to say. She also added that she attended two meetings with local officials, state officials and the farmers, and that in both of those meetings she conveyed to the farmers that she had secured $2 million to assist with this negotiation.
The only problem is that those farmers have no recollection of her ever mentioning anything about $2 million prior to her recent claim. That’s not exactly the kind of money one would easily forget, either, if offered. Members of the Kentucky General Assembly have said she did no such thing, and Kentucky Department of Agriculture and those general assembly members, in fact, have no desire to provide the Meade County Fiscal Court with any additional ag funds due to distrust of those very officials over their deception, and the fact they reneged on the last round of state tax dollars from the agriculture department that were awarded to help build sufficient roadways to the riverport in the first place to help Meade County have a grainery there. The department of agriculture seems to prefer spending their limited budget funding projects that help build up agriculture in this state, not steel mills.
Tate went on to say that negotiations could have started months ago for a new grainery but “until LTGGA agrees to come to the table, we’ll have nothing.” Well Mrs. Tate, I have been covering this whole mess since last October. The farmers have been at countless public meetings begging since day one to be brought to the table, but our local leaders would have none of it. That is why the lawsuit started in the first place.
The actual fact is that local leaders and our state representative need to stop being a dishonest, self-serving cabal. This paper has not embraced a Washington style of reporting as Tate claims. Our politicians appear to have embraced a Washington style of leadership, however, and many people, including myself, are tired of it. Quit crying, quit whining, quit lying and just do your jobs. You were elected to serve this county, and we should expect nothing less than our leaders standing tall with integrity and honesty as they do it.