US (OH): Akron-area farms battle higher costs, led by fertilizer

As prime planting season approaches in Northeast Ohio, costs are breaking new ground for Akron area farms. Price increases for fertilizer, seed, gas, diesel and even containers and packaging have outpaced wider measures of inflation and will lead to higher food costs, say local farm owners. “Nothing seems to come down,” said Chuck Seiberling, owner of Seiberling Farm in Norton. “Not even the bags we use for the customers to put the corn in.”

The 135-acre farm has been in family hands since 1831, and currently grows a wide variety of vegetables, including sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and other produce. In July, Seiberling said, he opens an on-site stand to sell crops as they come in.

Last year, the farm finished plowing in late March. But this year, it's been delayed by a cold, wet start to spring. For now, efforts are focused on the farm's greenhouses, where cabbage, tomatoes, peppers and flowers have been started. Despite the pressures of higher costs and fickle Northeast Ohio weather the past couple of years, the farm has been able to rein in price increases for its customers.

“We have kept the prices the same for several years,” he said. But 2022 is different. With his costs soaring and no end in sight to the increases, he probably won’t be able to avoid increasing his own prices. Seiberling said fertilizer, gas and diesel prices have risen the fastest, with fertilizer products leading the way. He was able to lock in his price earlier this year, but is worried about what will be coming next time around. “It’s tough, we were paying about $560 last year a ton. It’s gone up to $979.”

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