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Farmers feeling financial squeeze from rising fuel, fertilizer prices

Farm equipment in Rushville
Posted at 6:01 PM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-06 15:24:15-04

RUSHVILLE, Mo. — Farmers are feeling the financial pressures of rising prices.

“Farming is like a crapshoot. You don’t need to go to Vegas because you got farming to make up for it," Jeffrey Gaskill said.

Gaskill has been farming for decades and knows the occupation brings ups and downs that are often out of his control.

A new issue soybean and corn farmers can't control is rising fuel and fertilizer prices.

“We’re about out of diesel fuel," said Gaskill, pointing to one of his tractors. "We got about 1,000 gallons left of the 6,000 I bought around the first of the year. I know the price has gone up probably $1.50, $2.00 a gallon since then, and that’s a big hit.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports the average for diesel fuel in the Midwest was $5.34 for the week of May 16. A year ago, it was $2.14.

Tim Gibbons with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center said some farm families were already having a tough time making ends meet, and rising prices are a breaking point.

“Family farmers either going out of business or family farmers just getting out, this being the last generation," Gibbons said.

Although, farmers aren't the only ones feeling the impact of rising prices, so are consumers.

"Those fuel costs are going to be passed onto consumers. And if you’re not already paying higher prices, you’re going to be because of those shipping costs," warned Dr. Gregg Ibendahl with Kansas State University.

Ibendahl said an economic downturn because of COVID-19 and inflation are factors behind higher prices. However, there is some good news. While farmers are paying more for fuel and fertilizer, crops like Gaskill's soybeans are selling higher.

"I knew I was making money at $9, but that was with old input prices granted, now they're $17.06 today. So that’s the one thing that’s made it bearable," Gaskill said.

Despite crop sales offsetting fuel and fertilizer costs, Ibendahl expects high prices to continue throughout the year.