Kentucky farmers battling crop loss during peak season for deer activity

Posted on Sep 30, 2015
Louisville, KY (September 30, 2015) – As Kentucky’s deer population enters its annual three-month peak of activity in October, November and December, motorists and farmers across the state are simultaneously on the lookout for these animals. Drivers must use extra caution when headed through wooded areas to avoid the potential for a roadside collision with a deer, and farmers find themselves with a greater number of the animals foraging from and damaging their crops.

Examining the issue and helping farmers

Safe driving and the prevention of loss and injury on the roadways have always been of utmost importance to Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB). However, KFB is also a strong supporter of effective wildlife management practices that prevent deer and other wildlife populations from causing significant economic losses to agriculture or threatening the safety and well-being of Kentuckians on the roadways. KFB continues to advocate for legislation that enhances state laws granting farmers rights to eradicate wildlife pests such as beaver, deer, coyote, raccoon, etc., found causing damage to crops.

In 2014, KFB successfully advocated for the passage of House Bill 448 to modify KRS 150.170 and address one of the organization’s state priority issues pertaining to crop loss caused by wildlife. Landowners may now designate an individual to remove depredating wildlife, including deer, with the same rights as the resident landowner. Previously only the landowner could do this, but oftentimes landowners are not present when deer or other wildlife is found destroying crops. With the passage of this legislation, KFB better equipped farmers to manage nuisance animals that were literally eating their profits.

How do these scenarios impact the consumer?

All people are adversely affected by the actions of wildlife whether they realize it or not. Every consumer pays more for commodities when supplies are decreased or damaged by wildlife.

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), deer populations that feed off of local farms are a widespread and expensive problem. NASS statistics reveal that wildlife across the nation annually causes $619 million in field crop damages and an additional $147 million in losses to fruit and nuts. Within those figures, deer were found directly responsible for 58 percent of the damage to field crops (such as corn, soybeans, alfalfa and other forages) and vegetables, and 33 percent of the damages to fruit and nuts.

Finding a balance

Deer and the many other forms of wildlife that live in Kentucky are a beautiful and important part of this state’s natural landscape. They provide numerous positive recreational and economic opportunities, but deer can also cause a myriad of problems. A high volume of collisions with vehicles, decreased agricultural productivity, the spread of disease and other general nuisances are among the issues that require attention and resolution. Re-established as one of its priority issues for 2015, Kentucky Farm Bureau continues to support effective wildlife management programs that will reduce the wildlife population in order to diminish this source of crop loss, automobile accidents, human injuries and loss of life.