Coronavirus impacting cattle farming, dairy industry

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TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – Local farmers said COVID-19 has not had a great deal of impact when it comes to operations. However, that does not mean it is not impacting certain parts of the farming community.

“The price of cattle has been negatively affected because buyers really don’t know what to do with the cattle once they buy them,” said Cleek Farms Owner and Operator Zane Vanover, “they don’t know what the future holds for cattle, if they are going to get more expensive.”

Vanover, who also serves as the president of the Sullivan County Farm Bureau, said in addition to cattle farming, dairy farming may be the most significantly affected by the coronavirus.

“Schools not providing lunches for kids has reduced the demand for their milk,” said Vanover. “In West Tennessee, they’ve even had to dump some milk because of over-supply and decreased demand.”

Meanwhile, Washington Farmers Co Op General Manager Todd Stone says fertilizer and feed sales are steady, while sales of garden seeds and plants are increasing.

“A lot of changes are taking place in the way we do business,” said Stone. “Obviously, we’ve closed the show room to traffic and we’re taking curbside and dockside call-in orders and walk up orders.”

At Oak Hill Farm, Jason Crouch says he’s heard of farmers having trouble hiring some seasonal workers.

Fortunately, his workers were able to arrive in early March.

“They got here fortunately before a lot of things started to shut down and close,” said Crouch. “A lot of the jobs we’re doing, they are able to distance themselves from us and each other and not around much of the public, and we do have masks and gloves available to them to use, should they need to.”

Vanover said the food supply is abundant, affordable and safe for customers.

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