What Do American Wheat Farmers Do When Prices Drop? Make Whiskey

With turbulent commodity prices spiraling in a downward trend, farmers are left to tackle the economic hardships in the most feasible way possible. In the case of Walter Farms, that means whiskey. Holding on to a portion of crops, the Illinois-based farm is turning towards distilling their corn and wheat as opposed to selling it off at a low price.

Illinois-based Walter Farms is banking on the consumers’ desire to spend more money on quality, local products. With the rise of farm-to-table restaurants and the buy-local movement, it’s not a bad thing to bank on, especially as wheat prices drop across the United States.

In fact, they believe in it so much that spending a hefty $1 million to start their own distillery was preferred to debt collected by investing in their current farming practices. Appropriately named Whiskey Acres Distillery Co., father and son – Jim and Jamie Walter – are already making a name for themselves. Winning gold medals at spirits competition, it looks like distilling whiskey may be money well spent.

Walter Farms is not the only farm that is changing business practices. Last August, wheat prices plummeted to an all time low that hadn’t been seen in a decade. Looking to stay in business, farms have begun to reinvent themselves.

Taking raw crops and turning it into a product – specifically wheat into flour and grain into booze – is becoming more common. And with the rapid growth rate of craft distilleries, it’s a smart move.

People want to buy local, they want to buy craft, and they want to buy from the source. According to Cheers Online, in 2015 direct-to-consumer spirits purchases accounted for 14 percent of sales, while 40 percent of sales came from the state in which they were located. And these numbers – along with distilleries themselves – are only increasing.

If this booming trend continues, you very well may see more distilleries popping up on corn and wheat farms. Which for us, is not a bad thing.

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