LEBANON COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — As oil prices continue to rise, drivers are feeling the impact at the pump, but those costs are also hitting Midstate farmers. Diesel prices are really straining farmers’ wallets.
A farmer in Lebanon County said those higher prices make everything he does more expensive, and some of those costs will get passed on to consumers.
“My grandfather bought this farm in 1944, and so I’m third generation,” Steve Wenger, owner of Wen Crest Farms, said.
Wenger’s farm has been in the family for nearly 80 years, and his youngest son plans to take over the business eventually.
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Wenger houses cattle raises chickens grows corn and soybeans and trucks cattle across the country. In the last few years, however, things have gotten a lot harder.
“We go through thousands of dollars a day,” he said.
The latest problem he is facing: skyrocketing diesel prices.
“It’s just hard to believe,” he said.
Wenger needs diesel for his farm equipment and his trucks hauling cattle, often driving hundreds of miles in a day.
“About two weeks ago, I ordered some diesel fuel…Three days later, it was up 80 to 85 cents,” he said.
Higher fuel prices are just one more cost Wenger’s facing, on top of lingering effects from the pandemic.
“It’s not just fuel, energy and that, it’s also labor,” he said.
Wenger is paying employees more to keep them, and supply chain issues have thrown a wrench in getting new equipment.
“We had one of them ordered for a year and it finally came in now this winter,” he said.
Rising profits are not always enough to cover the extra expenses.
“On the trucking side, it’s hard to raise your rates fast enough to keep up,” Wenger said.
Right now, the price Wenger can get for his crops is high enough, but the price is not stable.
“It could be back down by fall, and then you won’t make much money, but if it stays up, we should be okay,” he said.
Wenger added all those costs farmers are dealing with will mean consumers have to pay more for their goods.
“They’re going to see it at the supermarkets, they’re going to see it on every, anything you buy,” he said.
Higher oil prices are also impacting farmers beyond their need for diesel fuel. Wenger said he is paying more for propane to heat his barns, and prices for some oil-based fertilizers have also gone up.