Fuel, labor shortages challenge Kentucky, Tennessee growers

07/02/2012 09:32:00 AM
Melissa Shipman

Knott says the challenge isn’t always just because there’s not enough help available. Growers sometimes underestimate the number of workers they’ll need for a season, which can cause problems quickly.

“You may think you need a certain amount, but you can get behind real quick if you don’t have the right manpower,” Knott said.

Knott said he’s able to rely on teamwork as well.

“We’re made up of more than 20 family farmers, and if I hear of any one in trouble, I’m able to call other growers and share the work to get everyone the help they need,” he said.

GAP audits challenges

Adam Watson, produce marketing specialist for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, says that good agricultural practice audits can also cause issues for growers, especially smaller operations.

“A producer who didn’t have records could have an issue,” Watson said.

Another issue is audit costs.

For some growers in other areas, the cost of an inspection isn’t as challenging, Watson said, because travel costs for inspectors can be divided between neighboring farms where audits are concentrated. In Kentucky, this isn’t as much of an option.

“Costs have been as high as $1,200 per farm, and that’s primarily because of travel,” he said.

Watson expects these audits will cause some changes in Kentucky agriculture.

“In the next three to five years, I think we’ll see some growers get out of the wholesale business and some get larger.”

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