2008oct5finchhousefeederWhen I started Jay’s Bird Barn back in 2003, we were selling 25-pound bags of Black-oil Sunflower Seed for just $8.99. There were times when I would even run a coupon in the paper and sell it for only $7.99! Right now, my cost for a 25-pound bag of sunflower seeds is significantly higher than what we used to sell it for.

Several states enacted laws banning trans fats in food products. Companies such as Nabisco and Frito Lay have switched to sunflower oil – substantially increasing the demand for this product, which has increased the price.

There are several other factors affecting seed prices right now. Global weather conditions have been wreaking havoc with crops in foreign countries. This has created a higher than normal demand for U.S. wheat, corn and soybeans.

Another issue which continues to persist, (but needs to go away), is the use of corn for ethanol. The demand for corn has resulted in farmers switching from planting sunflower seeds to corn, reducing the supply of sunflower available.

Farmers have little financial incentive to plant sunflower seeds right now, but as the supply of sunflower seed gets tight, the price will go up (as it is right now). When the price goes up, more farmers will plant sunflower seeds resulting in an increased supply, and the price will come back down.

As the owner of a small family business, it can be discouraging to experience another round of rising prices, but you have my commitment that I will do everything I can to minimize the price increase to you, our valued customer. I want you to know that we will be absorbing a large percentage of the price increase instead of passing it directly on to you.

I know that many of our customers are struggling financially, and I don’t want to add to their burden with rising prices. Feeding birds is more than just a past time for our customers – it is a form of recreation and relaxation. Just a week ago I had a customer tell me that feeding birds was a lot cheaper than therapy. I laughed at first, but slowly the realization of what he was saying sunk in.

I often tell people in the store that the reason people feed birds is not because the birds need us to feed them, but because we want to invite nature to be a part of our lives. As we feed birds, we create a connection with the natural world and the wonder of God’s creations. We witness firsthand the daily drama of death and survival for all living things. We feel empathy and we experience hope when we see a hummingbird at our feeder in February when it is 6 degrees outside. Feeding birds brings out the best in us – our caring, our compassion. The activity of feeding birds rewards us by lightening our cares and our worries. Droll Yankees, a national manufacturer of backyard wild bird products has the motto “Just feed birds and make a world of difference.” I like that.

I know for a lot of our customers feeding birds is how they choose to spend their money. They tell me they don’t golf, go to the movies or drink. Feeding birds is how they find enjoyment. Together we will ride out these challenging times. I thank you for your support – it means everything to me.