By DOUG SCHMITZ
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear recently announced the Team West Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund will provide up to $3.25 million to help Western Kentucky grain farmers recover after the local grain elevator, Mayfield Grain Co., was severely damaged by last December’s tornadoes.
“This money will not only alleviate stress for local farmers due to the loss of Mayfield’s grain elevator, it also will help get grain to facilities that can process the product and keep the supply chain moving,” Beshear said. “The potential loss of these crops is a disaster for the farmers of Western Kentucky, and ultimately is yet another factor in the rising costs we are all experiencing.”
Last Dec. 10 and 11, tornadoes devastated parts of western Kentucky, killing 81 residents in the state. More than 150,000 individuals and organizations from all over the world have contributed to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, which is administered by the state’s Public Protection Cabinet, raising $52 million to assist in long-term recovery.
To date, nearly $30 million has been distributed from the fund to individual Kentuckians and families as they continue to rebuild, including funeral expenses to the victims’ families.
Graves County Judge/Executive Jesse Perry and local farmers established the Graves County Grain Assistance Program due to concerns about the potential loss of crop yield, as well as wanting to ensure the state has an ample grain supply.
“After talking with local farmers about how the tornado had affected each of them in the county, I knew that we had to have outside assistance,” Perry said. “We are so very thankful that the governor and the Public Protection Cabinet have worked together to provide this program to help our local farmers during this time.”
Family-owned and operated Mayfield Grain Co. buys corn, soybeans, wheat and canola from approximately 200 local farmers. At full capacity, the company stores over 6.5 million bushels of grain. But the sustained damage limits capacity and backs up grain supplies across the Commonwealth, according to Beshear’s office.
While repairs are underway, Beshear said local farmers must travel 50 miles or more to the next nearest grain elevator to sell their crops, adding that the additional mileage and lack of larger trucks for hauling grain have increased costs for local farmers and threaten a loss of crop yield.
“Graves County has an extraordinary agricultural heritage,” he said. “It boasts the fifth largest grain production in the state, and is first in total value of agricultural products sold in Kentucky. It is critical that we do more to help this essential industry recover.”
According to the USDA, Mayfield is in Kentucky’s top county for agricultural sales, accounting for 6 percent of the state’s total farm business. Graves County has more than 62,000 acres of corn, and about 17,000 acres of wheat.
In May, Beshear announced the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund would provide $16 million in payments to insured and uninsured homeowners and renters.
He said the funds will help build 300 homes for families in 13 Western Kentucky counties through the help of Homes and Hope for Kentucky, Habitat for Humanity, and The Fuller Center on Housing.
“If your home was lost in the devastating, we are creating a real path for replacement through the donations to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, and the efforts of these nonprofit organizations,” he said.
Beshear’s office said Kentucky farmers who conduct business with Mayfield Grain Co. can get more information about the Graves County Grain Assistance Program and apply for assistance
Eligible farmers will receive a one-time assistance payment from the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund in the amount of $0.50 per bushel delivered to Mayfield Grain Co. in 2021. Award recipients will be required to supply documentation of the delivery of your 2022 crop by Dec. 31, 2022.
Checks will be issued directly to farmers who qualify. Applicants are asked to ensure all mailing and business information is correct on their application to receive prompt payment. The application online portal will close at 4 p.m. EDT, Aug. 15, 2022.