FRANKFORT, Ky. — Cattle are a little less profitable for farmers these days, according to Kentucky's Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles (R).

What You Need To Know

  • Pandemic decreasing value of livestock

  • Value of farmers livestock is decreasing

  • Plenty of food, but shoppers may notice limits and less meat in stores

  • Kentucky looking to USDA for help

The coronavirus pandemic has played a role in decreasing value for livestock like cattle, which Quarles says is 30-40% down. It's because of meat processors either shutting down or working more slowly; that's been a hardship for some farmers, and a meat shortage for Kentuckians. 

“Our farmers are taking an immediate hit on the value of their livestock and secondly, we will experience some meat supply shortages at the grocery store," says Quarles. 

Quarles says the shortage could last several more weeks.

“We’re in about a three, four-year cycle of downturn commodity prices in particularly livestock prices. They just keep ratcheting down," the Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney added. 

Haney told Spectrum News 1 Monday, "we’ve lost so many markets because restaurants had to shutter…we’ve had lots of issues for real distribution."

It's showing in some grocery stores, as some supermarkets put limits on how much meat a customer can buy at a time. 

“I want to reassure Kentuckians that we will keep you fed. There’s plenty of food. But for the next several weeks or so, we may experience some stocking shortages at the grocery store," Quarles says.

He's looking to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for help and says Kentucky will get $3 billion out of $19 billion going to states to help agriculture. Quarles expects the money to be spent as an aid to struggling farmers, to buy products and send it to food banks. 

There's a chance the farming industry could look a bit different after the pandemic. Haney is concerned there could be fewer farmers then. 

“You just get beat down so many times that so many people I’m afraid may lose confidence. Hopefully, they won’t," he said.