NJ farmers facing a triple whammy of problems, but you can help
New Jersey produces world famous tomatoes, corn and blueberries along with many other types of fruits and vegetables, but this year is shaping up to be one of the most challenging ever for farmers in the Garden State.
According to Peter Furey, the executive director of the New Jersey Farm Bureau, supply chain issues are making it harder for farmers to get what they need and inflation has made everything significantly more expensive.
"Not only for gasoline and diesel fuel, but for commonly used things like fertilizers and packaging, right across the board everything is up significantly.”
He said this has added to the risk that is common for farmers.
“There’s a lot of worry out there about getting sufficient revenue to cover their costs,” he said.
Farming is a costly business
Furey said at the beginning of the season, farmers put out a tremendous amount of money to raise their crop, then they have to survive weather changes to get a reasonable yield. After that, they go into the marketplace and sell that commodity.
This year, however, there's a new worry because of inflation.
“Prices received for that produce will be ordinary, so they would not be able to cover the extraordinary cost increases from the revenues received,” Furey said.
With revenues for crops not budging, that could put many farmers at a loss.
“I’ve heard things, on average, for all kinds of inputs is between 20% and 25%. Some things like fertilizer can be as high as 100%, so if your revenue received for the crops is level, then you’re just looking at a terrible deficit,” Furey said.
There are other problems as well
In addition to high prices and supply chain disruptions, there are also other problems farmers are experiencing.
“We’re also hearing about labor shortages and having to pay higher than normal labor costs," Furey said.
You can help
Furey said New Jersey supermarkets and consumers can help farmers this summer.
"The Jersey Fresh program is a good example of a state support that could make a difference,” Furey said. "Local production of excellent quality produce would go a long way towards addressing some of these financial problems that we’re talking about regarding cost of inputs."
To locate places that sell Jersey Fresh products, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture runs a website that uses a locator tool that allows people to type in their location, as well as some other criteria.
“We have wonderful products. It’s a big success story, but we’re being challenged by a terrible price squeeze,” Furey said.
The New Jersey Farm Bureau is the largest advocacy group for agriculture in the Garden State.