Governor wants funds earmarked to assist farmers hurt by extreme weather

By Elizabeth Donatelli

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- Kentucky's farmers are finally getting some relief after the wild weather of 2007 -- from the late spring freeze to an extensive drought to flooding. Now Gov. Steve Beshear wants to allocate $8.15 million in relief funds to assist farmers who lost money because of the extreme weather. WAVE 3's Elizabeth Donatelli reports.

Mother Nature didn't cooperate with Kentuckiana farmers last year. "I think all the way around this is the worst year I've seen," said Paul Hornback, a farmer in Shelby County.

We caught-up with Hornback in October, when he was already feeling the financial burden. "I've been worried because the debt load I'm carrying, and the payments I have to make and you worry all the time about can I pay off the operating expenses for this year?" Hornback told us.

That's why the government is now stepping in to help. K.A.R.E. (the Kentucky Agricultural Relief Effort) will give money to farmers whose crops and budget were ruined by the weather.

"The intense heat and lack of rainfall redirected average county crop yields by as much as 75 percent," Gov. Beshear said when announcing the initiative. "More than 70 percent of Kentucky hay or pasture fields rated poor or very poor at one point."

Kentucky is one of the largest beef producers, but many had to sell their livestock because they couldn't afford to feed them.

"They sold really good cows for either $800-$900 a head," said Rep Don Pasley of the 73rd District. "This spring when grass comes on and people go back to the stockyards to try to replace them, you're probably going to look at those cows at $1,300, $1,400, $1,500 a head."

KARE will reimburse those farmers for things that would help plan for conserving water and food supply in case of future severe weather.

"That's going to make a tremendous difference in whether or not we make money or lose money," said Ray Bowman, a sheep and goat farmer.

Farmers in some counties could receive up to $7,500.

You can apply at your Agricultural Development county extension building, but many counties will have different deadlines. The earliest you can apply is April 14th.

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Online Reporter: Elizabeth Donatelli

Online Producer: Michael Dever