Good returns for farmers, but profits have dropped
by Jill Aho, Herald and News October 6, 2008
photo by Andrew Mariman, Workers at Wong Potatoes
work to keep up with incoming produce Friday. The
slowing economy has had no negative effect on the
business, according to owner Dan Chin.
While markets this year have been giving farmers
good returns, rises in product costs such as fuel
and fertilizer have reduced profits.
Chris Moudry, owner of Basin Fertilizer, said
depending on the kind of fertilizer, increases have
been between two and three times last year’s price.
He said he’s never seen increases this great in 33
years in business.
“I was very surprised it went up as much as it did,”
he said. “We projected a price increase and it just
blew by that.”
factors contributed to the fertilizer increases, Moudry
Drought in Australia has led to worldwide shortages of
grain stocks, leading more American farmers to plant
grains. Add to that increased demand for the commodity in
emerging countries such as India and China and the
devaluation of the American dollar, and there is a price
increase on the mostly imported, but highly used product.
Dan Keppen, executive director of Family Farm Alliance,
said programs encouraging alternative fuel production have
led more farmers to grow crops that could be used for
“The downside is ethanol, in part, is driving up corn
prices,” he said. That means livestock owners are paying
more to feed their animals.
Keppen, who fights to keep farmers in the forefront of
water regulation policies, said he feels farmers in the
Basin are unfairly targeted when water supplies threaten
“That’s my biggest concern. We’re not developing new
water supplies so, by default, the farmer’s water is being
taken,” he said.
And while it may seem as easy as changing the kind of crop
a farmer grows to conserve water, Keppen puts it this way:
“You don’t go to a guy in a restaurant and say ‘you need
to stop selling food and start selling shoes because it
uses less water.’ They know what they can grow here.”
Keppen said he sees more and more farmers taking advantage
of conservation programs, although he said some do so out
Farmers can get paid to plant vegetation along streams and
to keep livestock out of water.
“I think farmers are the best stewards of the land,” he