July 1, 2016


Business Beat: Cost of farming in county skyrockets


Staff Writer

Frank Ehrman said farmers used to gather in large groups on the fairgrounds during the week of the Medina County Fair, talking about the year’s crop and other aspects of farm life. But every year, he said, he watches the number of farmers at the fair dwindle.

“My main word is things ‘usta’ be this way. U-S-T-A, ‘usta,’ ” the owner of Fran Mar farms in York Township said while minding cows at the dairy cattle barn Monday.

One of the reasons Ehrman said things are now different are skyrocketing prices.

“I’ve never seen nothing like it in all my life, the costs of farming,” he said, noting many farmers are unable to stay afloat. “I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot of ‘I’m dones’ this winter.”

He noted the price of fertilizer has gone from $190 to $1,200 a ton in the last year. Prices of fuel for farming equipment have more than doubled.

Ehrman said while his crops have been selling at higher prices than usual, he isn’t making any more profit than usual thanks to the prices of fuel, fertilizer and other materials.

Frank Ehrman (right) and his granddaughter Jessica Wolff, 13, of York Township, ready stalls at the Medina County Fair Monday morning. Because of high costs for fuel, fertilizer, feed and other materials, Ehrman hopes the farming community will still be viable when Wolff is grown. (Shirley Ware | Photo Editor)

“They’re bad — the gas prices, the fertilizer prices,” said Kathy Packard of L and T Farms in Litchfield Township. Her family doesn’t sell the crops they grow, but use them for raising their dairy cows. Thus, their farm cannot cash in on the rising sale price of crops, such as corn and soybeans.

They do, however, buy feed for the dairy farm’s cows. Just as fuel prices have risen, so too have feed prices.

Richard G. Heilman, of Heilman Farms in Spencer Township, said almost every one of his costs has gone up — everything from fertilizer to machine parts.

And he said he only saw a satisfactory crop this year.

“We’re not looking at any high yields ourselves. I’d say there’s at least 20 percent damage (to crop),” he said. Usually, he said, he only sees 5 to 10 percent damage to crop.

County farmers at the fair this week said the late April rains affected their crops. For those who had planted early, the constant rain impeded the plants’ early growth. The ones who waited to plant could not until the rains stopped halfway through May.

“The rain kept everybody out of the field clear into May,” Mike Miller, OSU extension educator said Monday.

But rains elsewhere this year could further deplete this year’s crop.

Areas throughout the Corn Belt states of Iowa, Illinois and Missouri saw floods this spring that destroyed much of the states’ corn crops. Area farmers are wondering what this could mean for them and consumers throughout the country.

Farmers in the area likely will be able to sell their crops at higher prices than usual.

“The crop reports say (the crops in the flood-afflicted states) are not coming in as well and it drives the price up,” said Terry Jenne of Triple T Farms in Litchfield Township.

But Ehrman said there may not be enough corn and other crops to satisfy the demand throughout the country.

“We have no way of adding on to our crop,” he explained.

Some farmers began to contemplate what similar devastation could mean to them.

“It would wipe me out,” said Darren Newcomer of Blake-View Farm in Seville. “I don’t carry farm insurance.”

Heilman said: “It would probably devastate it enough that we would be close to going under. It would be hard to rebound.”

He explained farming involves such risks. But it’s the lifestyle he was raised with, he said.

“You’ve got to love it. It’s something you got to want to do,” he said, while tending cows in a barn at the fair Monday.

His father and mother, Richard and Barbara Heilman, sat outside the same barn. Until his son took over, Richard was in charge of the Heilman farm for decades.

“If I had to do it over, I would,” the elder Heilman said.

Learning Garden

Dawn Felton, owner of the Learning Garden Christian Child Care Center in Montville Township, said one of her favorite aspects of her job is getting to know all the children and their families at the child care center. Now, she said, she is ready to open up a second center and get to know a whole new set of families.

“I think this is perfect for us. We want to keep it so we can know all the families. We want to be hands-on as owners,” she said.

The new Learning Garden, 4885 Panther Parkway, Seville, features six classrooms.

“There’s plenty of space in there and we can be more age-specific,” Felton said. The rooms will host three different pre-school classes, two infant classes and one toddler class.

In addition, the new center includes a 6,000-square-foot gym that will host the center’s health and fitness program. A café, named Debbie’s Café for Felton’s mother who passed away, is available for parents when they drop off and pick up their children.

The new Learning Garden Christian Child Care Center will have an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9. It officially will open the following week.

Kacik may be reached at 330-721-4049 or business@ohio.net.