By Ethan Kibbe
WATTSBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – With summer haying season in full swing, Beth Robinson is working 20-hour days at Meabon Farms outside Wattsburg, and she’s banking on a strong crop yield.
““You don’t have to go to a casino to gamble when you’re a farmer,“ she said.
She’s not getting rich from all her hard work.
She’s just trying to get by.
“It’s hard,” Robinson said. “Things just aren’t like they used to be. Not like things were easy before, but with the way prices go up, and without having any kind of relief, it’s hard to keep going.”
Fertilizer costs have tripled in the last two years, and diesel prices doubled since last summer. Simply tending to a field of hay or corn now costs a fortune, and there’s no guarantee of a return on investment.
“It’s hard to think that you don’t know what the milk price, the beef price, what the seed is going to do, or what it will sell for,” she said. “Grain, you can’t even tell if that’s going to be worth your time.“
So far, most crops are doing well, but even one bad field is a big financial hit.
“One field could look really good because it was planted at the right time and got the right weather, and the next field could have big wet holes where there was water standing, and you had to plant around it,” she said. “It’s all a weather game.”
As small farms around hers close, Robinson finds a way to keep going, but she says the current economic situation is one of the hardest she’s ever dealt with, and family farmers all over the region are being pushed to the brink.
“Why? Why are we doing this?” she asked rhetorically. “Why do we put ourselves through this every day? But, when it’s been what you’ve been through your whole life, or what you’ve always dreamed of doing, you don’t have a choice about how you feel. It’s just how it is.”