Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

Dr. Tyler Mark


According to the USDA Economic Research service, farm-level prices are on the decline. This decline in prices particularly hurts smaller scale operators with many needing to rely on off-farm income in order to ensure they remain in operation. This thesis studies two problems of key interest to the Southeast region and the State of Kentucky by investigating dairy management practices and the environmental benefits of hemp production. As dairy prices have been on the decline and dairy co-ops have tightened their restrictions on somatic cell count (SCC) levels, dairy farmers and farm managers must decide the best course of action for maintaining milk quality in order to maintain their contract and profitability. Maintenance decisions as well as factors like sanitation and animal living conditions can all contribute to bulk tank SCC and depending on the type of incentives or penalties instituted by the co-op they can have an impact on net farm income. The objective of the dairy study is to determine which dairy management practices have the largest impact on SCC levels.

Industrial hemp is produced worldwide. Historically, the major producers of hemp have been China, Europe, and Russia. In 2014, the passage of the Farm Bill opened the door to the production of Industrial hemp through the development of state pilot programs. Then the 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the Scheduled Drug list. This has further expanded the opportunities and excitement for this crop. The plant’s versatility and the variety of products that can be made from it are coming to light. Sustainability is one of the key attributes touted concerning industrial hemp. Specifically, in the state of Kentucky, it is expected to be a replacement for tobacco and other traditional crops. However, how does the crop compare to tobacco production in terms of sustainability? The objective of the hemp study is to develop a life cycle analysis on the planting and harvesting of hemp and compare its impacts to more traditional crops.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information


Southeast Quality Milk Initiative