June 2, 2000 | By: Mark Eclov

Last year's drought, dwindling tobacco quotas and low grain prices all pointed to rough times for some of Kentucky's farm families. In response to the anticipated surge in calls for farm management help, the Kentucky Cooperative Extension service provided training for over 140 county Extension agents last summer to help answer essential questions from stressed families.

After more than half a year of fielding questions related to this issue, Kentucky Extension agents and specialists are now beginning to get a more refined view of the questions being generated. A two-day follow-up training session for county agents is now being planned for late June at the Cave City Convention Center.

"This meeting is a follow-up to last year's training, but attendance is not restricted to those who attended last year," said Steve Issacs, Extension farm management specialist in the UK College of agriculture. "Like last year we are looking at family and farm issues so agents from all program areas are welcome and encouraged to attend."

The picture is still murky for many Kentucky farm families. The loss of tobacco quotas and low grain prices was partially off-set by federal disaster relief payments and Phase two tobacco payments.

The relief funding will possibly help some producers put off making some big decisions about their future for a while longer, but big changes on some farms are probably inevitable.

"We are definitely in a transition period," said Jack McAllister, Extension Dairy Performance specialist in the UK College of Agriculture and one of the team of Extension specialists providing agent training. "This follow-up training will focus on helping farm families sort out what is happening to their farm income and the related stress on the family that may occur."

Some of the key issues that will get attention during the two-day training course will include issues such as when do I know its time to get out, where do I go for help and what do I do now?

Agents dealing with such critical issues may also be under a great deal of stress and a special session on putting everything in perspective and using outside sources of expertise is planned.

Fayette County Extension agent Bill Mallory will help lead that training. He has been providing stress management training for young people since the late 80's. Now he is spending more of his time providing the same training for county agents.

Mallory ‘s discussions with fellow agents and local farm families suggests that the additional training session for agents make take place before the real crunch hits.

"I don't expect that the full impact of this crisis will hit this year," said Mallory. "The stress will continue to build and the full impact of what has transpired over the last few months make take another year or two to fully develop. The only thing we know for sure is that it will eventually have a major impact on many Kentucky farm families."


Jack McAllister 859-257-7540