Local farmers battle through toughest stretch of their careers

Local News

PATTON, PA. (WTAJ) – Yahner Brothers Farms has been in business for more than 180 years, but right now they’re facing arguably their toughest stretch ever.

“We’re all in uncharted territory and unprecedented times in this pandemic,” Marty Yahner, co-owner of Yahner Brothers Farms, said.

But it’s tough to break an almost two-century-old-business.

“We’ve been here for six generations, we plan on being here for a seventh,” Yahner said.

However, Yahner, like most farmers, is feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can’t sell cattle to them and we don’t know when we will because we don’t know when they’ll open,” Yahner said.

Yahner is referring to beef packing plants in eastern and northwest Pennsylvania closing down, decreasing the demand and forcing him to keep his cattle longer than anticipated.

“If they stay on feed longer, they get fatter and fatter and so whenever I do sell them, number one, the supply is so great now because of the backlog of the cattle not being harvested, so the bid will be less, and if their ‘grade’ is too fat, I get a discounted price,” Yahner said.

And it’s not just cattle, prices for cash crops like corn, wheat, and soybeans are dropping due to a decrease in a demand for ethanol.

“In some cases, it’s sad that if farmers can’t get financing like in the past, and you can’t get financing to put a crop in the ground, well they’re just going out of business,” Yahner said.

Yahner knows, though, that better times are ahead.

“People are still going to want their beef,” Yahner said.

Knowing a return to normalcy won’t happen overnight.

“It’s not going to be like flicking on a light switch on and turning the economy on, it’s going to be gradual and we understand that,” Yahner said.

However, at the end of the day……

“People have to eat, that’s the thing about our culture, people have to eat so we know they’re going to, but it’s going to be a slow recovery for agriculture and everybody else,” Yahner said.

To help out your local farmers, Yahner said to give them a call, and get custom frozen beef from them. Essentially, you call the farmer asking for a certain amount of meat, and then you call a butcher, where they process the meat, and divide it up to your liking..

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