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Kentucky cattle industry feels the sting of COVID-19

Photo: WKYT/Adam Burniston
Photo: WKYT/Adam Burniston(WKYT)
Published: Jun. 4, 2020 at 3:27 PM EDT
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While states across the county slowly reopen, people in the agriculture industry are feeling the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

One Fayette County farmer says it continues to be hard to sell cattle, and when they do, it’s often at a loss.

For those in the cattle industry, their markets closely follow the futures index within the stock market, and according to Tim White, a local cattle farmer, those markets are still volatile even as many states start to slowly reopen.

According to White spring is usually the seasonal high for selling yearling cattle, but due to the Coronavirus pandemic, a lot has changed not only for the farmers themselves but also for buyers and production.

With the stock markets still low, the price per head is roughly 8 to 10 dollars per 100 pounds lower than normal meaning profit margins are little to none for the farmers.

On top of that, even with beef is still in demand within grocery stores, White says the markets likely won’t get better until the supply chain is restored by packaging plants returning to normal.

“The slowdown in supply and then what that also is doing is putting a damper on the futures market so it’s kind of a double edge sword for us,” says White.

White says one positive thing that has come during this time is the fairly nice spring weather we’ve been experiencing, it has, in fact, helped his pastures grow better than normal for his cattle.

Just a few weeks back, the futures index was on a rise, which looked promising for those in agriculture but then recently White says they have fallen again showing that even while states slowly reopen, the markets are still volatile.

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