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Post-Storm Ag Outlook

Deadly tornadoes plowed through six states late last week, killing dozens of people and destroying property and livelihoods.

And agriculture, especially in the Bluegrass State, was not spared from the mayhem.

Soundbite: “We have a 200-mile swath through Kentucky that has pulled-down grain systems, destroyed chicken hatcheries, and of course blown-over barns,” noted Ryan Quarles, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture.

Poultry problems: Poultry, the commonwealth’s #1 commodity, experienced major devastation. The Pilgrim’s Pride hatchery in Mayfield, KY (one of the hardest-hit communities) was utterly destroyed—a loss expected to create a “multi-month delay in the processing and raising of chickens,” according to Commissioner Quarles.

At least a dozen chicken barns were also destroyed, and farmers are working with the EPA to kill the remaining chickens that lived in the barns.

More Mayhem in Mayfield: Hutson, Inc. reported that their flagship John Deere dealership in Mayfield was completely destroyed by the storm, and severe damage to grain handling facilities was reported across the area.

Located in Graves County, the largest ag-producing county in Kentucky, Mayfield will feel lasting effects from the storm—and the community’s extensive damage will certainly affect the state’s ag output.

Research stalled: In nearby Princeton, the University of Kentucky Grain and Forage Center of Excellence (UK’s premier crop research station) was nearly obliterated, with 99% of the facility’s structures now condemned. Miraculously, no one on-site was injured.

Where this goes: The ag sector’s rebuilding process is certain to take quite some time. And with more major storms sweeping across the plains over the past couple of days, more damage is expected further to the north and west.