Volatile Markets a Growing Concern for Farmers

Volatile prices, uncertain demand push some farmers into the red
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2008 1:05 PM CST
An ear of corn is missed during harvesting near Sherman, Ill., Friday, Sept. 19, 2008.   (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
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(Newser) – Volatile commodity prices and uncertainty about future demand are nurturing growing concern among American farmers as revenues sink—even as demand sprouts in emerging energy markets, the Wall Street Journal reports. Costs of doing business—namely seed, machinery, and fertilizer—are riding high alongside transportation costs, and commodity prices are fluctuating faster than farmers can figure out what, and how much, to grow.

Corn prices, which rarely varied by more than a dollar in the past few decades, have swung by $4 a bushel this year, an indication of the market’s inability to establish prices. Growing demand and diminished reserves are elevating grain prices, leading suppliers and landowners to cash in by boosting the costs of farming. But bumper crops have slashed the summer’s spiking prices, leaving many farmers operating in the red.