WEBER COUNTY — Grocery prices continue to remain high due to inflation. President Biden’s administration is looking to help lower the price of fertilizers and provide insurance for double cropping to alleviate some of the tension on farmers. However, Utah officials say it could be a while before that happens. For now, Utah farmers are doing what they can to have a successful growing season.
“There’s somebody that’s put in the hard work and tilled the soil and put sweat and tears into making sure that product gets to all of us every day,” Bailee Woolstenhulme with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food told ABC4. “Everything is so hard for farmers and ranchers all the time it seems like. Yes, in some ways they are used to that, and they’re used to dealing with hardships, but it just seems like we’re getting hit from all sides.”
Inflation may be making that and already hard job even harder. “We’re seeing fertilizer prices being two times to three times as much,” Woolstenhulme explained. It doesn’t stop there, diesel prices are at an all-time high and with the global supply chain still recovering from the pandemic, farmers are finding that equipment, parts, chemicals and basically everything they use to have a successful harvest is increasing in price as well.
“You would think that farmers would be excited about high prices in grocery stores because we could finally have a chance to make some more money and to be profitable, but the reality is we aren’t making any more money,” Kenny McFarland stated. “We’re making just the same, if not maybe even less in some circumstances.”
McFarland is a farmer and owner of McFarland Family Farms. He, and his family, are feeling the effects of inflation firsthand.
According to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, the McFarland family is not alone. And Utah’s agriculture workers have little to do with the prices you may be paying at the grocery store. Woolstenhulme added: “A lot of the price increases you see in the store for the food that you get are set by the processors, or the transporters, any of the other processes it takes to get from the farm to your grocery store.”
In Weber County, the McFarland family grows produce across hundreds of acres. From sweetcorn to onions to pumpkins, the family grows almost every vegetable you can think of off the top of your head. Their produce stays fairly local.
“About 80 percent of our crops are wholesale into grocery stores across the Wasatch Front and neighboring states,” explained McFarland. “Then, about 20 percent of it we sale locally at our fruit stands.”
Officials with UDAF say the draught means water restrictions. For many farmers, this may limit the amount of produce they grow. A strain of bird flu is killing poultry across the country which will impact the supply of eggs and meat; this also means prices will continue to rise. On top of all that, the war in Ukraine will continue to affect the global supply chain.
However, officials say you can help by buying local as often as possible. It’s a suggestion many farmers and ranchers would agree with, including McFarland. He told ABC4, “We need to make sure that we’re buying as local as possible to help sustain farming in Utah because there could be a time when that’s extremely important to have food security here in Utah.”
Again, according to UDAF, it could be a long time before any federal help is available to Utah farmers and ranchers. However, low-interest (emergency) loans are available through UDAF to those who qualify.