Cattle and Crop prices feel effects of COVID-19

By  | 

CLAYHATCHEE, Ala. (WTVY) -- It's planting season for many crops around the nation including the Wiregrass area.

Although, many farmers have not directly been affected by COVID-19.

They are seeing the effects in their wallet.

A decrease in crop and cattle prices is resulting in a loss of thousands of dollars for a single farmer.

"Now is the time that they have to work,” Extension Agronomist William Birdsong continued. “There's no choice. This is the season of the year, planting season, to be able to get the seeds in the ground to start the crop. There's no choice about that it's just now or never."

Farmers are a little wary this planting season as cotton is at its lowest price since 2009.

Cattle prices have also seen a significant decrease.

"The beef prices in the stores can be up a lot more because of demand but the price of beef coming off the farm has been depressed by at least 30 cents a pound," Birdsong added.

That's due to meat processing and packing facilities closing, causing the farmers to sell cattle at a lower rate to make room for their crops.

COVID-19 is just another setback farmers have been dealing with over the past two years.

"Our local farmers are hurting financially and really it goes back to hurricane Michael," said Birdsong.

Along with hurricane Michael, Wiregrass farmers dealt with a significant drought in the middle months of 2019 and have felt the effects of the trade war with china.
The government will be sending help via the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

"Any USDA funding if it's administered appropriately hopefully would be of a real help and not just a flash on the newspaper headlines," said Birdsong.

Farmers are still hoping for higher crop prices come harvest time.

"We'd rather get money for our crops than if we had a subsidy payment from the government," said Ned Sconyers, Farmer.
That only happens if the consumers will buy their product.

"As far as the work on the farm, it hasn't really affected that that much, but you know our neighbors that buy stuff like peanut butter or shirts or anything with cotton or any other agricultural products it's being affected dramatically," Sconyers added.

No matter the circumstances these farmers face now, they will still focus on producing the best crop possible.

"Farmers are resilient,” Sconyers explained. “We're out here doing our normal thing trying to make the best crop we can and from there we will just hope for the best when it comes harvest time.

Farmers are still unsure when they will receive the USDA funding.

A total of 16 billion dollars will be provided from the USDA program for direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers.