CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ) — Vale Wood Farms in Loretto is seeing the effects of fuel costs through their input costs across the board.

In Pennsylvania, the average cost of diesel fuel is around $6.18 a gallon. Almost all vehicles the farm uses to transport their goods, including tractor-trailers and trucks, require diesel fuel. The farms deliver to local stores in Altoona, Johnstown, State College, and others.

Director of Business Development Carissa Itle-Westrick said that the fuel costs affect the entire supply chain. Westrick didn’t provide specific numbers for the increase but noted that each invoice has higher prices than the previous invoice.

“We grow the crops to feed the cows. Fuel prices impact fertilizer prices,” Isle-Westrick said. “They impact tire prices and oil prices. So, all along our supply chain, from planting that crop, to harvesting it, milking their cows, to delivering their milk. Every single step of that chain is impacted by fuel prices.”

For example, the surcharge on the delivery of milk cartons went up thousands more than before, coming in at $2,500 per delivery. Itle-Westrick said that even though they price milk on the higher end of the state’s regulation, they aren’t making any profit because of the high input costs.

“What’s unusual during this current trend in higher milk prices is that all of that benefit is eaten up by these higher input costs,” Itle-Westrick said.

However, she noted that the farm persevered under similar economic challenges in the past. They plan to use all the resources they can to save a buck, even if it means changing routes.

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“We’re managing these input costs in real-time,” Itle-Westrick said. “Every single invoice we get is higher than the last invoice we received. It’s challenging our managing capabilities to make sure we stay on top with these increases throughout the board.”

However, through these multiple challenges, the farm said they will continue with normal delivery operations and ensure that costs are reasonable to customers.
“We’re no stranger to economic challenges, and we’re hoping to rise to meet the occasion,” Itle-Westrick said. “We’re using every tool in our toolbox to provide dairy delivery to local families.”