Farmers hope rising prices will help in 2021

Farmers were able to get out in the fields as rainy weather abated in mid-April of 2020 along Route 307 in Austinburg Township. Federal relief programs helped area farmers stay afloat during a challenging coronavirus pandemic year that included market fluctuations and high costs for feed and other supplies.

BY WARREN DILLAWAY

warren@starbeacon.com

Farmers faced a variety of challenges during 2020 but there is a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel in 2021, according to Ashtabula County Extension Agent Andrew Holden.

Farmers had issues even before the coronavirus pandemic hit last year.

“We were having pretty low commodity prices,” Holden said.

Trade wars with China and other nations contributed to the reduced prices and the pandemic added to the issues as reduced demand — because of restaurants closings — brought more challenges to farmers.

Government action helped provide some relief for farmers with United States Department of Agriculture and federal grants.  Holden said some of the government assistance helped farmers stay a float but not making a lot, or any, profit.

The federal government purchased dairy and produce and provided those items to families in need throughout the United States. Ashtabula County residents benefitted from the programs.

Farmers are closely watching the interaction between China and the United States because sales can be drastically affected depending on what direction that relationship heads.

One solid positive force is commodity prices have been up the last several months.

“If that continues it could be a nice change of pace for these producers,” Holden said.

Federal and state governments have not addressed farm needs specifically, but Holden said there is the possibility of some assistance.

“There is a rumor of stuff on the horizon,” he said.

While commodity prices are on the upswing, some of the positive effect may be neutralized.

“In-put costs are going up,” Holden said.

Weather always provides one of the larger indicators as to whether farmers will have a successful season or not. Traditional wet spring planting seasons provide farmers with challenges that can provide make-or-break results.

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