‘Breaking even is a great goal right now’: Local wheat farmers struggle to make ends meet
WILBUR, Wash. — The food that lands on your table – that all happens thanks to an army of people. This includes many farmers, and some of them are struggling right now.
While the price of milk, bread and so many other things have gone up, wheat farmers are not seeing that same increase in profits. Every year, the number of farms in America drops, partly because production costs are higher than their profits.
“Farms aren’t really making a lot of money right now and people aren’t buying. It’s just kind of just cinched up and holding on,” said Kyle Steveson, a local fifth-generation farmer.
Steveson’s land in Wilbur is looking a little flat right now but when July comes, about 1,000 acres will be full of wheat.
His wife, Alison Viebrock-Steveson, is following the tracks of her family in farming, too.
“My dad farmed, my grandpa farmed. It’s something that I’ve been involved in since day one,” Alison said.
It’s a job that’s so important. It puts food on the table for us and our families.
“You go to the grocery store ,and you buy it and that’s all you think about. But, there’s so many people affected in buying, in putting that food on the shelf that I don’t think people realize that,” she said.
Kyle is a jack of all trades. He’s been an electrician and a welder, but his heart was always on the farm.
For 10 years now, the two have been growing wheat together in Wilbur and Almira.
“It’s going good, but financially, it’s tough,” Kyle said.
The price of wheat right now is $5.34 a bushel. That’s the same as it was this time 10 years ago. The price of wheat does change every day. In this moment in time though, it’s rough for the Steveson’s because it’s so low.
“Chemicals gone up, fertilizers gone up, gas, diesel. Everything has gone up except for the price of wheat, which doesn’t work so well,” Alison said.
Breaking even is all they’re hoping for right now. Alison said it would be a “success.”
For some of us, 50 cents doesn’t sound like a lot, but for Kyle and Alison, if prices for wheat went up 50 cents, it would make a huge difference for them.
“If you make $10 an acre you need all the acres to pay your bills. After we do the farm, then we pay the mortgage on our house, on our car. It takes a lot. It’s in my blood but I don’t know what else I would do,” he said.
It’s a job where they can’t say they make a certain amount of money it, year after year. They do understand that they, along with many other farmers, have to go with whatever Mother Nature throws at them.
“It doesn’t work. Everything goes into the farm. Everything we make goes right back into it and make the next year work,” Kyle said.
Even though everyday is different and it sounds stressful, they say they’ll continue because they love it.
“We aren’t in it to make money. I mean if we make money that’s really nice. It’s not a job. It’s our lifestyle, it’s our heritage. It’s our legacy,” Alison said.
The Steveson’s are leasing the land near Wilbur. They said their landlord got out of the business and is doing something else now. Since they purchased the place, they got a few tractors and combines they don’t need.
While trying to sell their crops is tough, it’s even tougher to find people who want to buy it. They’re even giving someone $1,000 to someone that would help get it sold.
You can learn more about that on Blessed Farmgirls’ Facebook page, where Alison also tries to explains the ins and outs of the farming industry.
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