Inlander Online has a great feature on 5th Congressional District Democratic challenger Peter Goldmark… only it’s more than just an article about Goldmark, it’s an article about the decline of farm towns in Eastern Washington.
Decline in farm towns has long been considered a function of fewer farmers running bigger farms. But now, Goldmark says, “Even the bigger farmers are leaving, even the larger farms are struggling.”
Corde Siegel, who farms near the Whitman County outpost of Pine City, says, “My accountant says there is not a single grain grower who is making money.”
The math is as simple as it is harsh. Six years ago, Siegel says, his cost per acre for fuel was $5; today it’s $20. Fertilizer penciled out to $20 an acre in 2000 and is $45 today. Chemicals have gone from $12 to $35 an acre in the last six years; labor from $8 to $18 an acre; machinery from $10 to $33; crop insurance from $4 to $12.50.
Meanwhile, “I have farmers harvesting wheat for the same prices their fathers and grandfathers did,” says Gretchen Borck, director of issues for the Washington Association of Wheat Growers based in Ritzville.
It’s a bad equation, Goldmark says. “Here are the people [who] we say are privileged to grow food for the entire world, and now you’ve got to pay to do it.
“Ag families are going to dry up and go away and nobody cares. I care,” he says. “This is the big issue about why I got into the race