Reduced food harvest possible this year due to high farming costs | WJHL

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SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Local farmers can’t control escalating costs and, due to soaring inflation, they are warning that production could be lower than normal while consumer prices could be high.

Sullivan County farmers told News Channel 11 that costs have risen in all aspects of food production, whether it’s fuel, fertilizer, feed, seed or labor. -work.

UT Sullivan County extension officer Chris Ramsey said farmers operate on a fixed budget with little or no wiggle room.

“They have no control over the price they pay for the food they get and the same with diesel fuel, you can’t get the hay in the barn, or feed the cattle without the tractor and they’re kind of forced to pay the price we see for diesel fuel to make this all work,” he said.

Ramsey said he had seen local farmers struggle in the past, but not like this.

“I would compare it to the drought of 2010, for example, when we saw cattle numbers start to drop drastically. And you know, it’s a major impact on our local farming community,” Ramsey said.

Zane Vanover was recently elected commissioner of Sullivan County, but he’s also chairman of the county’s agricultural office and a beef producer.

He said the cost of farming is two to three times higher than before the pandemic. As local union president, Vanover cited that Farm Bureau reports that of every $10 spent on a farm, $8 is oil related.

“So that means your fuel for your tractors, your lubricants for powering your tractors are made using oil, fertilizer, of course, is a big by-product of petroleum. So all of these These add up to a huge expense that some farmers can afford, some can’t,” Vanover said.

He added that many farmers have left or will leave the business due to these potential losses.

As a beef producer, he said the cost of meat has already seen a drastic increase recently.

“When you get to the grocery store, don’t blame the farmers,” Vanover said. “What you see at the grocery store is definitely not what we get at the market when we sell our calves.”

With production costs high, Vanover predicts a decline in crop production output this year.

“I think there needs to be less production,” he said. “When you apply less fertilizer, there will be less produce produced, there will be less hay, there will be less corn. If you have less fodder, you will have fewer cattle. So I think everyone is going to produce a little less. And this is just one of those tough times and we’ll get through it.

Vanover, like Ramsey, has been part of the farm bloc for many years.

“I’ve never seen it like this before most people have seen it. But it’s just a time to just tighten your belt and push through and look for better days ahead, and then there will be better days ahead,” Vanover said.

“So it will be a year where farmers will not make any profit. If you do, you are very lucky. You just try to get by and hope for a better year next year.

Tony Slaughter is a farmer who grows fruits and vegetables for the regional grocer, Food City.

He too has seen exorbitant costs to maintain his production at the same level as in past years.

“We have placed an order for the items we use to pick strawberries. And our next shipment of those arriving on Thursday is double the price of the ones we have today,” he said.

Slaughter explained that he had to maintain the same production to meet demand, but at a much higher cost.

“Food City likes to keep costs to consumers as low as possible. Unfortunately, we are now in a situation where our production costs have increased so much that I fear that over time the cost to consumers will increase. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around it,” Slaughter said.

“Taking shortcuts would have a significant impact on our production. So our yields at least on this strawberry crop are a bit better than last year. And with any luck, on the other crops we grow, we will have yields comparable to last year. It’s just going to cost a lot more money to do it.

Slaughter grows strawberries, tomatoes, all kinds of peppers, green beans, sweet corn, yellow squash, zucchini, squash, onions, cucumbers and cucumbers, and he also owns cattle, sheep, poultry and pigs.

He said the cost of every aspect of his production had increased except for fertilizer and fuel, and he had seen an increase in the cost of some chemicals, irrigation equipment and labor. work.

“Unfortunately, most of the time when things go up, it takes a while before they come down, if ever,” Slaughter said.

In a statement to News Channel 11, Food City representatives said the grocer has not seen a decrease in food production from its sources.

Farmers News Channel 11 spoke to said the local impact will be minimal in terms of food shortages. Although there are fewer products on the shelves and more expensive, there should always be enough food for everyone, they said.

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