To the Editor,

As a lifelong Scott County resident, I am always proud whenever fellow Scott Countians seek ways to improve our state and our country. Unfortunately, I did not feel that hometown pride when I read Haley Conway’s piece attacking fellow Scott Countian Ryan Quarles and our current Agriculture Commissioner in this newspaper last week. 

The piece is, at best, misinformed. At worst, Haley is engaging in a deliberate attempt to smear Ryan Quarles, a Scott County native and our current Agriculture Commissioner.  For a man who claims to farm, he knows little about agriculture issues. 

Haley claims that the big issue plaguing Kentucky is “corporate monopolies.” This is ridiculous, especially in a state that has more than 75,000 family farms, 96 percent or so are family-owned and operated. He is simply incorrect. 

Not mentioned in the piece, but just as ridiculous is Haley’s repeated claims that Ryan hasn’t farmed a day in his life. Just not true. As everyone who farms around here knows, Ryan grew up working on his family’s farm every day.

Prior to this month, Haley says his campaign was self-financed and makes it sound like he did this purposely, out of a desire to not be beholden to special interests, when in reality it is because no one wants to waste their money on his negative campaign.

He now says his donations come from hard working people, but refuses to show up for events with organizations that represent hard working people, like the Kentucky Farm Bureau. As the former president of the Scott County Farm Bureau, I cannot think of a time in our state’s history when a candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture ever showed such open disrespect for the largest grassroots farm organization in our state by refusing to even talk with them. 

Talk is cheap. Showing up matters. Ryan Quarles has traveled to all 120 counties this year, listening to the concerns of farmers about everything from international trade to low commodity prices. He’s led the department in a time of budget restraint, having implemented six budget cuts during his time in office. He did this while helping legalize hemp, getting Kentucky Proud ground beef in to grocery stores across the state, catching credit card skimmers, and leading the fight to reduce hunger in the Commonwealth. 

We all know Ryan Quarles. As a community, we’ve watched him grow from a farm kid on a tobacco and cattle farm to a strong leader for our rural communities. And I can tell you from talking to farmers that Ryan is well respected by our agricultural community and is recognized as a national leader who has the ear of federal officials like U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Don’t pay attention to these mudslinging attacks. I would go as far as to say this sort of negative campaigning by Haley is disqualifying.

We must, as a community, reject these attempts to divide us and support Ryan Quarles, who has put Kentucky first and will continue to make us all proud.

Paid political by Jimmy Richardson

Scott County

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