FRANKFORT, KY (WTVQ)- Governor Andy Beshear has signed an executive order establishing a guide to grow the Agritech sector, specifically in eastern Kentucky.
The idea is to turn eastern Kentucky into the next Silicon Valley and revolves around innovations in agriculture.
“We don’t believe the future of farming in America is going to be in Boston, New York City or San Francisco. We believe the future of farming is going to be somewhere in the middle part of the U.S. and now it’s just going to take leadership to figure out who wants to grab it and go,” said Appharvest CEO Jonathan Webb.
Aggharvest is finishing up construction in Morehead on what will be one of the country’s largest greenhouses. Webb hopes his $120 million-dollar greenhouse will help spur more growth in the state. It’s also why he initiated this international agreement with the Dutch government, universities and other partners to promote farm technology in Kentucky.
“I’m the first college graduate in my family. I went to public schools in Kentucky. The reason this is so important to me is we must inspire that next generation in Kentucky to stay here and build the next great companies,” said Webb.
Appharvest hopes to inspire others by growing and exporting tomatoes to other parts of the country in less than a day’s drive.
“1.2 billion were imported from Mexico 10-15 years ago,” said Webb. “Four billion pounds last year, so if you look at our facility, it’s going to do about 45 million pounds annually of tomatoes. On the back of an envelop, we can figure out how many facilities we can build if we want to bring that production back into the U.S. within a one-day drive.”
Webb said his facility will be the first of many, as society looks for more efficient ways to use water and energy to produce food.
“The U.S. is going to need 18,000 acres of these facilities. This is 60 acres and a 120 million dollar investment,” said Webb. “You can do the math on the back of an envelope.”