Struggling To Survive
I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
At the recent Northwest Hay Expo we had the opportunity to chat with Mattawa farmer Bob Eckenberg, owner of Eckenberg Farms a world leader in quality hay products, about the impact the port slowdown has had on ag producers.
ECKENBERG: All the ag exports out of Washington is about 48%; that’s a sizable amount of income that has been reduced to about 35% of its normal volume. So yeah, it’s a huge impact.
So how do ag exporters contend with that?
ECKENBERG: It’s really tough. You work on 35% of your budget and try every avenue to make your customers happy because they’re finding new sources to supply them, other nations, and that makes it difficult. They have people to feed and economies to keep moving, and they’re going to other nations instead of the U.S.. Unfortunately the U.S. has a strong enough economy to allow the revenue to go away.
Eckenberg says that export options now for Washington producers is slim to none.
ECKENBERG: Washington state is impacted worse than any other state because we’re the farthest north and we don’t have the rail to go to Oakland, or go to L.A. and Longbeach; so there’s actually a lot of exporters that are moving down there, and so it’s taking longterm business out of the state and revenue out of the state and moving it to other states.
That means everyone is looking for alternatives.
ECKENBERG: We’re all business owners, we’re all individuals; we’ve got to try to stay alive. We’ve got people that we’ve had to lay off, and that is extremely tough in November and December and New Year’s. You feel terrible about it but you have to keep moving. The main goal I think of all the exporters is that our markets aren’t going to shift to some other nation; that’s the biggest concern.
That’s Washington Ag Today.
I’m Lacy Gray with the Ag Information Network of the West.