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Ashton farm sold when local profits couldn’t keep up with hydro bills

By Brandy Harrison, farmersforum.com

May, 2014

ASHTON — It’s a done deal: the store is empty, the equipment auctioned off, and the farm signed away. Ashton beef farmer Rick Hobbs has quit full-time farming and is putting at least some of the blame on soaring electricity costs.

“Our hydro was more than what we were bringing in. It came down to a choice: do we pay the hydro or do we pay the mortgage?” says Hobbs, who ditched commercial beef sales for an on-farm store stocked with beef, a bakery, and restaurant south of Ottawa in 2010.

Local beef sales shot up quickly but began to tail off about a year ago when he said he lost customers to cheaper grocery store prices. At the same time, he worried his wife, Chris, the primary cook and baker for the restaurant, was burning out.

He closed the store for good at the end of March and sold the farm late last month to a buyer from Richmond, who will wait until September to move in his heavy horses and construction equipment. The store, house, barn, outbuildings, four Cover-Alls, and 92 acres were originally on the market for $950,000 but Hobbs dropped the price to $799,000.

Soaring hydro rates just cemented the decision to sell, says Hobbs.

The power was cut off for the better part of a day at -33 C in late January when he was a day late paying the bill because of a snowstorm. The next monthly bill shot up by an extra $1,400. Hobbs says he didn’t get a satisfactory answer as to why.

Since word got out that electricity costs played a part in the sale, Hobbs says he has fielded 15 to 20 calls from people, including some farmers, in similar situations.

 

Read the full story here.

See related story, on opening of the Hobbs’ on-farm store, in 2011.

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