Best Outdoor Family Fun in Fall Saturday, Oct 17 2020 

Outdoor fun is all the rage in 2020 and we don’t have to tell you why! Let’s take a look at some amazing places to visit with your family that are right here around Louisville. With school looking so different in 2020, we want to highlight some places near Louisville where you can get outside, away from the offices and [...]

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Zoo’Opolis Exotic Petting Zoo in Nashville, Indiana Monday, Oct 5 2020 

Zoo’Opolis Exotic Petting Zoo is a wildlife sanctuary in Brown County, Indiana where you can feed, pet, and play with the animals. Meet and greet animals in a unique way at this Indiana wildlife farm.  Zoo’Opolis Exotic Petting Zoo is open two times a day on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You definitely need to make reservations before visiting. Check [...]

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A Day Trip to Georgetown, Kentucky Monday, Aug 24 2020 

A day of family fun is just an hour away in Georgetown, Kentucky. We recently spent a day burning off energy at Evans Orchard and Cider Mill and then enjoyed a delicious treat at Sweet Matriarch Bakery. If you’re searching for a day trip with plenty of outdoor activities then Georgetown, Kentucky is the place for you.  A day trip [...]

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Farm Tour near Louisville with animal encounters Thursday, Aug 6 2020 

Black Horse Manor offers custom farm tours for families Alpacas, horses, donkeys, and other farm animals will greet you on this farm tour near Louisville.  On the edge of Shelby County and available for a farm tour near Louisville, you will find Black Horse Manor. Luckily, someone visit it recently and reached out to us to make the connection. We [...]

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Day trip to Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort Thursday, Jul 30 2020 

Tips for visiting Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort, a unique Kentucky space for families Day trips are so important in 2020 so families can find new ways to be together and have fun. During this unique time, we are seeking outdoor fun options to present to Louisville families. Check this one out! Josephine Sculpture Park is in Frankfort and open [...]

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Sunflower Picking at Huber’s Friday, Jul 24 2020 

Huber’s Orchard and Winery is now offering sunflower picking U-pick sunflowers are available, plus they are beautiful for visiting and taking photos Sunflower picking in a gorgeous sunflower field near Louisville will lift your spirits! This summer has been hard on everyone. The beautiful things in life need to be enjoyed! We were so pleased to see that Huber’s Orchard [...]

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Top 10 Places for Spring Farm Family Fun & Berry Picking near Louisville Thursday, May 7 2020 

Strawberry picking and other spring farm family fun near Louisville. We are all so excited for Spring and it’s just as fun in spring to head to the local farms as it is in the fall. It’s a different set of crops but the same family fun! I also encourage you to check out the Kentucky Farms are Fun website [...]

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Feed Animals and Go Hiking at Blackacre Thursday, Apr 23 2020 

Blackacre is open for hiking and to feed animals in Louisville. Their historic homestead is free to visit! Blackacre State Nature Preserve and Historic Homestead offers over 280 acres of land and so much more. Enjoy this beautiful place with your family, even during social distancing and quarantine.  Many people have asked “Where can we take our kids to feed [...]

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These Two Farmer’s Markets are Winning during Quarantine Tuesday, Apr 21 2020 

It’s spring and Louisville loves farmer’s markets. Can you still shop a farmer’s market when social distancing restrictions are in place? Yes! There are farmer’s markets that are catering to everyone’s needs even during a global pandemic.  Are farmer’s markets still open now? If you are looking for great variety, these two great markets provide many options from local farmers [...]

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Coronavirus Concerns Rise As Ohio Valley Meatpacking Workers Fall Sick Friday, Apr 10 2020 

As the number of coronavirus cases surge across the country, some meatpacking facilities have been temporarily shuttered due to workers falling ill to the virus. Three workers in Georgia have even died.

With workers at some Ohio Valley facilities now testing positive for the virus, worker safety advocates are raising concerns about how adequately workers are being protected and the implications for the food supply.

West Virginia’s poultry and livestock industries bring in the large majority of the state’s agricultural revenue, with poultry and eggs bringing in approximately $387,884,000 in 2017. Most of that production happens in the state’s eastern panhandle in places including Pendleton County, where Steve Conrad raises turkeys for a regional cooperative.

He said a worker tested positive for the coronavirus last week at the cooperative’s poultry processing facility across the state border in Hinton, Virginia. While Conrad believes the situation at the facility is under control, the potential for spread of the virus at such processing facilities could be substantial. 

“I would think it would spread like wildfire, to tell you the truth, if it’s as infectious as what they say it is,” Conrad said. “The people are standing probably within three feet of each other as either they’re taking the meat off the bones or taking the feathers off the carcass, and pulling the guts out.”

He said the cooperative has taken measures such as removing microwaves used by workers at the facility’s cafeteria, using masks in the facility, and monitoring the health of workers. Executive leadership at the cooperative could not be immediately reached for comment regarding social distancing and other measures at the facility.

Conrad also said unlike the other industries, it can be difficult to slow down the meatpacking production. 

“If you’re building cars, you can just shut down the line. You know, that steel is going to be ready for you whenever you start up again,” Conrad said. “But in the poultry business, or the cattle business or hogs … they’re growing so many pounds on a daily basis. We can’t shut off the feed. They got to be harvested.”

Cargill is one of the latest meatpacking companies to close a processing facility to protect their workers’ health. And more cases are beginning to pop up in Ohio Valley facilities elsewhere. 

Growing Risk

Caitlin Blair is a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 277, a union chapter representing people working for Pilgrim’s Pride, Specialty Foods Group, Tyson Foods, and JBS USA, at meatpacking plants throughout Kentucky and in southern Indiana. 

She said there have been some positive coronavirus tests among these facilities, and the union has been pushing meatpacking companies to better protect union workers.

“A lot of our employers are doing really well, social distancing, especially in public areas, or common areas like break rooms. But there’s also a lot of room for improvement,” Blair said. “The machines are loud, and it’s a dangerous shop, normally. And the coronavirus has just made that job even more dangerous.”

Blair said while Kentucky already considers meatpacking workers essential, her union is trying to get the state government to classify workers as first responders to get better access to personal protective equipment and access to child care services. The union is also asking companies to slow down the speed of their processing plants to allow for more protective measures.

Blair said some companies have offered some union members one-time bonuses, ranging from $300 to $600. But she said these bonuses may not be paid out for months and are sometimes tied to worker attendance.

“Various employers have tied that to perfect attendance at a time when day cares are closed, schools are closed, people are having to scramble for childcare,” she said. “Those bonuses should be paid immediately with no attendance strings attached.”

Protections and bonuses vary among the major meatpacking companies in the Ohio Valley. Tyson Foods said the company is checking the temperature of workers before they enter plants, building dividers between workstations, and adding space between workers. Pilgrim’s Pride and JBS USA is also setting up “triage tents” to test temperatures and stagger break times for workers.

Yet one worker safety advocate argues the mismatched protection standards across the industry could leave some workers more vulnerable to the coronavirus, and says the federal government should do more.

Deborah Berkowitz is worker health and safety program director for the National Law Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for workers’ rights. She said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released guidance for employers regarding coronavirus, but there isn’t a required standard for COVID-19 among the meatpacking industry. 

“What you’re finding is a lot of companies, because there’s no mandated requirements, are just doing a little bit here, a little bit there, but not enough to protect workers,” Berkowitz said. “That is a devastatingly dangerous situation for workers to be in.”

Berkowitz, who served as a senior policy adviser for OSHA, said by having a standard of mandated social distancing and extra precautions for sanitizing, these plants can better protect their workers.

Supply Concerns

For Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in addition to concerns about worker safety, the state’s most lucrative agriculture industry is at risk. Livestock and poultry products brought in more than $3 billion to the state in 2017.

“One of my biggest concerns is keeping our meat processors open for business,” Quarles said. “A short disruption or shut down of a processing plant can ripple all the way down to the farm level instantly.”

Quarles also said the Kentucky Department of Agriculture is still developing guidance with the Kentucky Farm Bureau to be issued to farmers regarding appropriate coronavirus measures. In the meantime, he asks those in the industry to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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