SOKY farmers’ pocketbooks hurt over critically low river levels

Franklin farmer & grain elevator share drought testimonies

FRANKLIN, Ky. – Low water levels in the Ohio River, Green River, and Cumberland River are hurting some of our local SOKY farmers. Because the river level is so low, supplier barges can only transport about half of their drafts.

That means local bean farmers like 40-year experienced Randy Mann must pay extra as the cost per ton rises if they want their seeds, propane fuel, or gas.

“We’ve lost, if we were making 50 bushels per acre, that’s $50 an acre we’re losing just on soybeans. That’s on a basic level, and that’s related to the river,” Mann explained. “We’ve had to store our grain for a longer period of time.”

Grain elevators are feeling the effects of the low water as well.

Franklin Grain elevator Owner Jason Moss said, “The biggest issue we’ve had has been able to move the commodities we need to have space to continue to take the grain from the farmer. So, the drought has definitely affected those areas for the worse.”

Recent rainfall down south has helped raise river levels slightly, but some suppliers are still having to ship their exports in two sometimes, three different barges because a full, heavy barge wouldn’t even budge in this water level.

Both men say they and other farmers are praying for rain, hoping supply costs can lower into the new year.

Mann said, “Right now it’s gonna be this way for a while until we get a flood and/or river levels get back up to their normal.”

“We experienced this in the past, but not to this level,” added Moss. “Droughts are a terrible thing for everybody involved: the farmer, the elevator, and the in-user. So, moving forward, the rain will be all that’ll help us with this.”