Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer has congratulated Kentucky farmers for surpassing $4 billion in cash receipts for the fourth year in a row and the fifth time in the past six years.

“Kentucky’s agriculture industry has met the economic challenges it faced this year,” Commissioner Farmer said. “The state’s efforts in agricultural diversification – led by Kentucky Proud – provide a firm foundation for Kentucky producers to grow and prosper in the years to come.”

A University of Kentucky report estimates 2009 cash receipts for Kentucky farmers will total $4.29 billion, 11 percent lower than last year’s record $4.84 billion total but even with the five-year average of $4.28 billion. UK agriculture economists set 2009 net farm income at $1.07 billion. The report was unveiled at Kentucky Farm Bureau’s 90th annual meeting in Louisville.

The report forecast 2010 farmgate receipts of $4.1-4.5 billion. UK said next year’s outlook will hinge in part on whether exports of agricultural products pick up. The report predicts gains in cash receipts for livestock and possibly “minor improvements” in sales of fruits, vegetables, greenhouse products and small grains.

Kentucky Proud is the official state farm marketing program. A 2008 UK study found that every $1 of tobacco settlement money invested in Kentucky Proud returned $4.70 in new farm income. More than 1,800 farmers, processors, retailers, restaurants, farmers’ markets, Kentucky state parks and Kentucky Farm Bureau roadside markets are members of Kentucky Proud. The program is administered by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.