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Rough year on farmers

Tyler Baskfield

“It’s been a hot and windy year,” said Gordon Grandbouche as he sat behind one of the truck scales waiting for trucks full of grain to pull in.

He would know he is the final stop for all of the grain trucks once they have taken in their harvest from the fields around Craig.

Grandbouche sees the final results of what Mother Nature and hard work have combined to provide.

As the owner of Craig Grain, one gets the feeling that he has been through tough years before and has learned to accept them as part of the business. He remains calm as he discusses the yields.

“I have noticed yields are between 17 and 25 (bushels per acre). For the last seven years, it has been more like 30 to 35,” said Grandbouche.

The price of grain has remained relatively the same as last year, said Grandbouche. As of Sunday it was at $1.72 per bushel. In 1999 it was closer to $1.65.

Grandbouche believes the consistent low prices are due to the excess amount of grain produced around the world a problem that he doesn’t see going away anytime soon.

“There isn’t enough exported,” said the local businessman.

If a grain farmer is lucky enough to get through the hot, dry weather with a decent harvest, the gas pump soaks up a fair share of any profits. Grandbouche believes fuel prices have had significant effects on grain producers this year.

“That’s a big factor,” said Grandbouche. “If you’re doing anything at all, you’re going through a couple hundred gallons a day. The price is up around 60-cents per gallon. It’s a major thing.”

Grain is a tough business. Grandbouche has seen the local grain industry gravitate toward larger acreage and other crops.

“In this area, 70 percent of what used to be grain has gone in to grass,” said Grandbouche.

At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, officials see the results of a tough year in the form of farmers applying for assistance.

To get normal assistance, farmers have to be certified by sometime in July. This way, they build a history where yields can be compared. Without certification, the only assistance that they can receive is if the area is declared a disaster area.

“I normally certify 200 farms a year,” said Patrica Moralez, county executive director for the farm census agency. “This year, I certified 300. We have a lot of people coming in and asking questions.”

According to Moralez, they have applied for disaster relief in this area and are waiting on approval from the secretary of agriculture.

“We have wells drying up, people running out of irrigation water in May. You can drive around town and see how bad it is just by seeing all the brown grass in people’s yards,” said Moralez.