AppHarvest is building one of the world’s largest controlled environment agriculture facilities. The company announced that it has brought together more than a dozen organizations, including the governments of the Netherlands and Kentucky as well as universities and private companies, to commit to the creation of America’s AgTech capital in Appalachia.

An agreement, which was signed by 17 organizations, calls for a series of research programs, construction of a center of excellence and the building of additional private infrastructure similar to AppHarvest’s 2.76-million-square-foot farm that opens this fall in Morehead, KY (see video below).

Dutch representative office

As part of the agreement, the parties commit to opening a Dutch representative office in Kentucky to spur investment in the state by Dutch companies, which are recognized as the world’s AgTech leaders. “This long-term partnership will add jobs and create a new signature industry for our Appalachian region,” said AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb. “It also demonstrates the kind of international cooperation that we need more of on the national level.”

Location and economy
Kentucky’s AgTech advantages include a central geographic location that allows AppHarvest’s tomatoes to reach nearly 70% of Americans in a day’s drive. That means fresher food and far less food waste as grocers benefit from the extended shelf life. Growing fruits and vegetables closer to where people eat them also creates a more resilient food system, alleviating the vexing supply issues that continue to be seen as part of the COVID-19 pandemic due to America’s increasing reliance on agricultural imports.

“In Kentucky, we’re going to reopen and rebuild our economy even stronger than it was before COVID-19,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Partnerships like this one highlight our state’s 21st century leadership and limitless potential. I can’t wait to see the AgriTech industry continue to grow in Eastern Kentucky, led by AppHarvest and other companies that are reimagining the future of farming.”

The agreement represents the culmination of more than two years of work that saw multiple delegations of Kentucky representatives visit the Netherlands, where they met with leaders at nearly 20 organizations that are redefining agriculture. The Netherlands also has sent top officials to Kentucky to meet with Gov. Andy Beshear, university leaders and economic development officials.

Signatories to the agreement include the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality (LNV), Directorate International Affairs, Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Office of the Governor, Dutch AgTech companies Dalsem, Signify, Certhon, Light4Food, Priva and Rijk Zwaan, The Netherlands’ HAS University of Applied Science and Fontys University of Applied Sciences, The University of Kentucky, Morehead State University, University of Pikeville, Eastern Kentucky University and Berea College, Dutch public-private network organization NLWorks, and AppHarvest.

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