Delmarva farmers experience worst year in decades; hopeful for 2019

47 ABC – A perfect storm. That’s what some Delmarva farmers are calling 2018 as they finish up their worst year in nearly two decades.

“I’d be ahead of the game if I never took a tractor out of the shed this year, if I just left them parked,” explains Virgil Shockley, a local farmer in Snow Hill.

2018 proved to be a tough year for every farmer here on Delmarva. No crop did well from corn to soybeans, even fruits and vegetables.

“It’s been a struggle and that word doesn’t even begin to describe what it’s been. Just trying to get something in the ground and trying to get to harvest this whole year.”

Mother Nature proving to be a big factor with farmers getting three months worth of rain in the span of just a week. But it’s more than just the weather, Chinese tariff’s and the price of goods also played a role.

“If it costs you $300 an acre to grow a crop of corn and you get 100 bushels in an acre and corn is $3, all you did was break even. You work the whole year for nothing,” explains Shockley.

So what do farmers do after a year of losses like this, well Farm Credit, a place that provide loans to local farmers, says to try and offset some of the risk farmers face.

“So the answer isn’t always borrowing more money that’s an option but I think sometimes restructuring the money that’s there or looking for other ways to curb expenses. It gives them an incentive almost to kind of sharpen your pencil and go back and look at things with a fine tooth comb,” explains Zach Evans, a Farm Credit loan officer.

But Shockley believes if things don’t change then, “You’re going to have people that will not survive 2019. If 2019 is anything close to a replay of what we had this year, prices and everything else weather especially, you’re going to see farms for sale you’re gonna see a piece of property go up for sale for housing developments whatever they can get.”

So as farmers say goodbye to one of their worst years in decades they look to 2019 as a new year of opportunity, as long as Mother Nature shows some kindness.

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