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Tough Times For Farmers In Current ‘Down’ Cycle

March 28th, 2018

Potter County farmers are facing stiff challenges to remain in business and there are no easy solutions. But conditions do change over time. That was the assessment from Nicole Santangelo Carutis, agronomy educator with Penn State Extension, in a presentation to the Potter County Commissioners on Tuesday. PSU Extension and other agencies continue to work with the farming community to help its members endure the current conditions, with the expectation that profitability will eventually improve.

Dairy farmers have been especially hard-hit, Carutis said. Three more dairy operators in Potter County have gone out of business over the past three years and a fourth will soon pull out. The amount of milk yield per cow has risen to record levels, which has created an oversupply in many areas. Potter County farmers are handicapped by the expense of getting milk to the larger consumer markets. Some have responded to the marginal dairy economy by expanding into livestock and crops, for which start-up costs are not as high as dairying.

The situation is brighter when it comes to crops, Carutis pointed out. Production per-acre has risen as a result of many factors. She added that, despite current challenges, commodity prices and agricultural trends tend to be cyclical. Potter County has some inherent advantages for agriculture, including adequate precipitation. Historically, local farmers have shown their resourcefulness in times of trouble. In the long run, agriculture in its broadest sense — which includes forest production — will continue to be Potter County’s biggest industry.

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