GREENSBURG — Like humans, animals must eat to survive. And, to get the food to both animals and humans, farmers need to plant and harvest.


Unlike many other industries in Kansas, the coronavirus is not closing down tractor or animal feed stores. These businesses remain essential.


“We are here because there’s a need for cattle, chicken, and other animals that need food to get it,” said Mark Brown, the manager of the Tractor Supply Co. in Hays. “The only change is in our hours.”


Tractor Supply stores, like many other animal feed stores nationwide, are increasing their inventory of livestock and equine feed, pet food, water and propane.


Walt Burling not only owns a feed shop, but he raises cattle. For him, closing shop would mean leaving his customers and their animals in a lurch.


“There’s a lot of us having two to three calves a day,” said Burling, of Burling Mills in Partridge. “These animals might need food and medicine.”


Burling said customers are calling and making sure he is open.


“It’s not an option to not keep things open,” he said. “We have to stay open to keep these farms and this country going.”


In addition to feeding animals, farmers and ranchers are in need of equipment. If their tractor breaks down, they need to get it fixed. In just a few weeks, many farmers in Kansas will be planting corn.


“The farmers in the next two weeks will need their tractors to get their crop down,” said Shawn Harmon, the store manager of BTI Greensburg, a John Deere supplier.


All the BTI stores, and most tractor and feed stores state-wide, will remain open as long as they can, so farmers and ranchers can get equipment and food to farms and animals.


“We’re just a critical infrastructure for the community,” Harmon said. “We’re doing everything we can as a dealership to help people get through this situation.”