COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The rising price of food is hitting consumers hard, but they aren’t the only ones, farmers and ranchers are feeling the sting of inflation too.
In addition to high food prices, farmers who grow food and sell cattle are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of fuel, fertilizer and operating expenses.
“My number one hit would be the price of fuel,” Gregory Smith, Owner of Smith’s Farm & Ranch in Tuskegee, Alabama said. “Once that goes up the price of repair, the price of seeds, any nutrition, feed, value all that have increased.”
Smith is an organic farmer who has been in business for more than two decades, but inflation has really changed his daily operations.
“If it costs me $400 a cut for one field, it’s going to cost me around seven to eight hundred,” Smith said. “So, I’m kind of trying to get more quality in the field before I cut [hay] so my gas will go farther.”
In order to have a competitive edge over other farmers, Smith says he tries not to discourage customers with his prices.
“I haven’t increased mine from the last couple years as much as I’ve seen at the store,” Smith said. “The average watermelon out here is running maybe $10 each, but I’m still 25-30 percent less than that.”
Smith says in addition to produce, he is also struggling to sell his cattle.
“I can’t process a USDA cow so I can sell individual pieces of meat,” Smith said. “I only can sell half, quarters, whole or maybe an eighth of a cow.”
Smith says the USDA is backed up on processing livestock for him to sell to his customers. However, he isn’t the only farmer trying to cope with the cost of inflation.
Allina Bell, Owner of Spring Creek Farm in Waverly Hall, Georgia said now more than ever, it is imperative for farmers to be business-savvy and to plan ahead.
Bell boards horses, offers horseback riding classes and works as a financial advisor just to ensure she has the money she needs to keep the farm running.
“Whether you are having a small operation or whether you’re a large breeding or racing or showing operation any way, you approach it, you are being affected by everything from supply chain issues to just simply fuel costs,” Bell said.
Bell says the cost of veterinarian and blacksmith services are rising also.
“So many people have horses because they love them because they are very good riders,” Bell said. “But they also have to remember in order to run a farm they have to be good business people.”
The US Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency provides programs and financial support for American farmers and ranchers.