By Clint Thompson
South Florida watermelon producers are two months away from planting this year’s crop. Farmers are bracing themselves for the high input prices that are rampant throughout the agricultural industry.
Mark Bryan, president of the Florida Watermelon Association, said the impact of the increased input costs will be felt at the grocery stores next spring and summer.
“We know our input costs are going to be up; some upwards of 40% to 50% on certain items. Overall costs, a 10% to 15% increase is probably what we’re going to see on costs,” Bryan said. “Freight, we dealt with that already this year. We think that most of our retailers, wholesalers, a lot of our customers, they’re already on board knowing that this freight issue is in dire straights right now. We’re in need of more truck drivers, more trucks on the road. We’re going to have to deal with all of that.
“I think at the end of the day, I think the end cost for the consumer might be a little higher based on all those rates. For the farmer, we’re going to fight it and fight it as much as we can.”
Everything is More Expensive
Fertilizer prices are up considerably. So are diesel prices. And freight costs. Expenses are up across the board, so the only recourse farmers can hope for is increased market prices for their product.
“Sooner or later, one of these things has to give. The retailer, how long do they want to lose money? And then the farmer, how long do they want to lose money before something else changes on the other end. Hopefully, that will materialize, and hopefully all of this stuff will suppress eventually, and we’ll get back to where we’ve been in the past,” Bryan said.
South Florida producers usually start planting their crop around Christmas.