Ryan Quarles, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture, surveys tornado damage across western Kentucky

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 1:36 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture is touring the tornado damage across the state of Kentucky, saying “The pictures don’t do it justice.”

Dr. Ryan Quarles called it a “wide swath of devastating damage throughout rural Kentucky.”

Quarles said in Princeton, a UK farm research center took a direct hit. In Mayfield, damage was done to agricultural companies like a John Deere dealer, a granary and the Pilgrim’s Pride Hatchery. He said several grain systems were impacted in Warren County.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is responding to the tragedy by focusing on animal welfare issues, food insecurity and encouraging donations to a recovery fund set up in conjunction with Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation.

Quarles said there have been animals trapped in barns, and others have disappeared. His office is aiding efforts to find homes for animals that have been displaced.

“We’re in the people-feeding business in agriculture,” said Quarles, announcing that KDA is working to get the waivers needed for school systems to pass out food for anybody that needs it. They are also coordinating with food banks to get supplies, materials and donations to storm victims. He said the humanitarian effort is top priority right now, and expressed sympathy for those who have experienced loss of life and property.

Quarles also spoke to the resiliency of Kentuckians. “Our farmers are out there already fixing up their farms, but also taking their equipment downtown, clearing out streets and aiding emergency personnel starting Saturday morning. We get knocked down sometimes, but Kentucky farmers, our rural Kentuckians, get themselves back on their feet. They pat the dust off their blue jeans and get back to work.”

“We are one Kentucky. Doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, all corners of the Commonwealth are going to come together, and we can do that by getting resources into the hands that need it the most right now.”

To donate fence posts or other agricultural supplies, contact the Commissioner of Agriculture’s office. “We’re going to make sure we come back stronger than ever before,” said Quarles.

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