Road to recovery long for western Kentucky ag following tornadoes


Road to recovery long for western Kentucky ag following tornadoes

Damaged Silos in Mayfield / Graves County, Kentucky (Photo Credit: Steven Elder)

The road to recovery will be long for farmers and ag businesses in western Kentucky following the storms that moved through late last week. 

Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles tells Brownfield says they’re continuing to dig out from the destruction and assess the damage.  “Here’s what we know so far,” he says.  “In Graves County, Mayfield, Kentucky, we had major agriculture companies which were completely leveled – from a John Deere dealership to Mayfield Grain, which handles over 40 million bushels of grain every year.  Our chicken industry is also affected, Pilgrim’s Pride hatchery was wiped out in Graves County.  That will have a ripple effect on the poultry production in Kentucky for some time to come.”

He says there is a 200-mile swath of destruction – anything from barns to equipment, research facilities, and livestock losses.  Quarles says the state Department of Agriculture is also working to assist farmers with animal welfare care.  “When you have counties where the fences have been literally uprooted and tossed around, it’s going take some time to sort through animal losses,” he says.  “Simply because the cattle may not be there anymore.  We’ve also secured holding facilities for cattle as well as horses.”

He says early assessments show there are about a dozen chicken barns that have also collapsed, and the department has been on site depopulating the flocks. 

And for farmers who have experienced losses or extensive damage, Quarles says they should reach out to their local extension agents.  “For example, if you’re in need of feed for your cattle or the replacement of a fence, contact your extension agent,” he says.  “That way we have a better idea of what you need and we can coordinate a donor or someone willing to locate those items for that producer.”

He says the department is also working to secure food donations and stabilize the school system and the Presidential disaster relief declaration allows for flexibility in the rules so anyone who comes into the school can be fed. 

Quarles says the local food bank storage facility was leveled and is in need of donations.

AUDIO: Ryan Quarles, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture