A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Pork and politics highlight Farm Bureau breakfast at State Fair as country ham auction breaks record

By Lawrence Smith
Kentucky Today

Gov. Andy Beshear avoided the hot button social issues of the Kentucky gubernatorial campaign during an appearance at the annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast at the Kentucky State Fair on Thursday.

In his speech before some 1,600 attendees, Beshear focused on the economy and on his role in guiding the state through several disasters, including tornadoes, floods, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s hard to remember a four-year period where it feels like we’ve faced so many challenges,” said Beshear. “But as I stand before you today, I am more hopeful, optimistic, excited about our future than I have ever been in my lifetime.”

Miss Kentucky Mallory Hudson of Bowling Green holds the championship ham that brought in $10 million. (Photo by Lawrence Smith/Kentucky Today)

The incumbent Democrat went on to tout Kentucky’s record economic growth.

“We are in the midst of what will be at least our third-best year of economic development in our history. You think about what that means. It means $26 billion of new investment since I’ve become governor — over 40,000 new jobs,” he said. “But think about the momentum — about what it means to have our best years ever back-to-back-to-back.”

Beshear did address complaints by the Republican legislature that he is taking credit for actions taken by state lawmakers.

“Yes, there are different arguments about credit,” he said. “But with $26 billion there is enough for everyone.”

Beshear’s Republican opponent, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, also attended the breakfast and, during an impromptu news conference, painted a different picture of the governor’s economic record.

“Since this governor has taken office, there are 27,000 fewer Kentuckians, folks are having to work two and three jobs in Andy Beshear’s economy,” said Cameron. “You’ve got a governor where the workforce participation rate is 47th in the nation. So as these plants and factories are coming online, we’ve got to figure out who’s going to work in them.”

Beshear also touted the infrastructure improvements that are occurring under his watch, including the widening of the Mountain Parkway, construction of I-69 in western Kentucky and the Brent Spence Bridge in Northern Kentucky, which will be built without tolls.

“A good job isn’t Democrat or Republican. A bridge isn’t red or blue,” Beshear said.

Gov. Andy Beshear speaks at the annual Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast on Thursday morning. (Photo by Lawrence Smith, Kentucky Today)

Cameron countered that Kentucky’s infrastructure improvements are a result of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress in 2021 with the support of Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

“I’m grateful for what Sen. McConnell did as it relates to the infrastructure package. I’m grateful for the bipartisan support on that. It’s helping fund projects,” Cameron said. “I know Andy Beshear is trying to take credit for those things, but it was because of the work of Sen. McConnell and others in the United States Senate that that package got passed and we’re seeing the benefits of that.”

In fact, during his remarks, McConnell noted that his influence as Senate Minority Leader helped lead to the bill’s passage.

“I supported it. I’m proud of it. It’s $6 billion for Kentucky,” said McConnell. “It is a much-needed gift not just to Kentucky, but to our whole country.”

Aside from the politics, the breakfast raises money for charity with auctioning of the Broadbent grand champion country ham.

This year the ham sold for a whopping $10 million. Former Republican candidate for governor, Kelly Craft, and husband Joe, joined with Central Bank to double the record amount they spent last year.

The ham was raised by Broadbent B&B Foods of Kuttawa.

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