Farmers impacted by COVID-19 in very different ways

MORGANTOWN, Ky. – Tuesday is the first-day farmers and other producers across the nation can apply for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

The federal government will be distributing $16 billion to provide relief to American producers, including Kentucky farmers.

According to Ryan Emmick, problems in any part of the supply chain can take a toll on farmers.

“Large processors that are out west are not able to stay open right now because of the coronavirus so there’s a disruption in the supply chain,” said Emmick.

Over the next four months, farmers can apply for the relief funds to help cover losses incurred because of the pandemic.

A local beef farmer, Brandon Embry, is considering applying for the relief money.

“Local dairy, I know, has been hurt a lot. But, vegetable farmers, I think it’s actually helped them because people are going and buying more from them than going and buying from the grocery stores,” said Emory.

Emory said the price cattle are selling for is not profitable.

The reason could be attributed to previous panic buying.

“It sort of falls along that toilet paper mode. You start realizing that there may be a shortage, so you want to make sure that you’re stocked up,” said Emmick.

The need to stock up during the onset of the pandemic showed itself in the quickly emptying shelves at the grocery stores.

“We actually live in a food insecure area. If you look at the state of Kentucky, specifically here in Butler County, we’re food insecure, which means that there is limited amount of places that you can go to get fresh locally grown produce, fresh locally grown meats. So, people realize that we don’t have that huge supply here, so you get a little bit panicky when things like this start to happen,” said Emmick.

With the economy opening back up, farmers hope the uncertainty they have been facing steadies.

Farmers can receive up to $250,000 of the relief money to compensate for losses throughout the pandemic.