LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)– Many question whether President Donald Trump’s threats to shut down the southern border are a political stunt or whether he will actually do it. If he does choose to shut down the border, a University of Kentucky extension professor says that the decision could have a disastrous effect on small family farms.
In the short run, UK Extension professor Timothy Woods, says that fruit and vegetable producers in Kentucky would benefit from more local markets to sell to, but livestock and grain producers would struggle.
“Mexico, a lot of people are not aware of this, they are our number two buyer of beef, soybeans, pork,” he said.
An inability to sell livestock and grain products out of the country would suddenly flood the US market, leaving those farmers without many buyers. It’s not just an issue of food imports and exports, or supply and demand. Woods said that the border closure could wreak havoc on labor supply.
“Particularly in Kentucky, many of our agricultural enterprises, food service, manufacturing depend on seasonal workers,” he said.
The labor shortage on top of flipped supply and demand and the family farmer could suddenly have some sleepless nights. Woods said that the grocery shopper will pay higher prices too.
No matter when they go to the grocery store, most shoppers have a list of what to buy no matter the time of year. It’s something that many take for granted, and Woods said it is based on the assumption that food producers can buy and sell as usual.
With the proposed border shutdown, Woods said that fruit and vegetable shoppers will see higher prices right away.
“Right now we import roughly a third of all our fruits and vegetables and Mexico is by far our biggest supplier,” he said.