10 in Pulaski recovered; Price volatility, labor biggest farm concerns

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PULASKI COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Wild price swings and concerns about having workers are the biggest concerns in the agriculture industry right now, an extension agent said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases held steady at 28 with 10 of those now recovered, one hospitalize and 16 self-quarantined, Judge Executive Steve Kelley said during his every-other-day update.

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The county also has had one death, that coming last week.

During his online updates, Kelley often is joined by some community member. Wednesday’s guest was extension agent T.J. Adkins, who said the agency is having good response to the online course and program offerings it’s done since the coronavirus outbreak shut down in-person services.

The extension services’ grab and go bags filled with activities for kids alos have been popular, he said.

“The biggest thing for farmers right now is wild swings” in prices, he said, noting beef prices have been up and down as much as $20-per-hundredweight, which creates uncertainty.

The other headache is the ability to get migrant workers through federal worker programs. TWith state and federal borders closed and dramatically limited, those programs aren’t operating.

“That could be a big problem” when farmers are trying to get crops in the field or harvested and to the market, especially vegetables, Adkins explained.

He also said the coronavirus outbreak and the way it has impacted everyone’s lives is changing demands on farmers.

For instance, restaurants and schools once made up as much as 40 percent of the demand for farm products but that has changed with restaurants closed.

Packaging also is different.

Families at home buy a couple of ounces of sour cream while restaurants buy it by the pound.

“It’s changing areas many people don’t think about,” he said.