“Our farmers are struggling to keep their animals safe and healthy,” Commissioner Farmer said. “Power is out all over the state, and that makes it tough on livestock producers who need to pump fresh water to their animals or milk their dairy cows. Downed trees and limbs have hit power lines and damaged fences. Kentucky farmers need quick and decisive action from USDA to recover from this storm.”
Washington County Extension agent Rick Greenwell said power lines are lying in pieces in many fields in his county. He said a feed store he visited Thursday couldn’t mix feed because it didn’t have power.
Greenwell said Washington County “is in survival mode” due to power outages. “Through it all, people find time to help each other,” he said. “That’s the thing that’s keeping them going.”
Ray Bowman, executive director of the Kentucky Sheep and Goat Development Office, said hay supplies are dwindling and many producers are unable to provide fresh water to their animals because of power outages. He said some producers are losing sheep and goats because of stress from the weather.
David Switzer, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association-Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, said horse owners are reporting problems with damaged fencing, extensive debris from downed trees and limbs, water line breaks and a few damaged structures. Switzer pointed out that the Thoroughbred foaling season is under way and the breeding season starts in about two weeks.
Barren County Extension agent Gary Tilghman said ice and flooding have damaged many fences in his county. He said today some dairy operations that were unable to operate last week because of power outages are back online. Barren County is Kentucky’s leading milk-producing county.
Department officials were told last week some Kentucky dairies had to dump milk because milk hauling trucks could not get to the dairies.
Some Kentucky poultry operations are being maintained on generators, but in some cases – especially in western Kentucky – fuel for the generators is in short supply, and electricity may not be restored for weeks. The birds require constant temperatures, lighting and feed, and even slight variations can put them in danger.
“Kentucky’s needs are many, and they are urgent,” Commissioner Farmer said. “I urge Secretary Vilsack to act with all deliberate speed to get our farmers the help they need now.”