YUMA, Ariz.- If you have made a trip to the grocery store lately you may have noticed cheaper prices on produce and other goods for sale. While it is a gain for you, it’s costing farmers a lot of money. With farm production increasing and agriculture exports decreasing, some farmers are getting paid half of what they used to.
Paul Brierley with the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture says the decline began about three years ago. Brierly said, “We have lost about ten or 15 percent of net income each year. Some commodities are down 50 percent from three years ago and that’s pretty tough when you are trying to make a profit and all of a sudden your product is only half what it used to be.”
There are two reasons why prices have gone down says Brierley. The first is that farmers are producing a very large amount of crops making supply high and demand low. The other reason is because of the U.S. dollar being more expensive than in the past. “Our exports cost more in other countries,” explains Brierley, “Agriculture exports a lot of their production and we can’t export as much when the dollar is high.”
Yuma farmers are already experiencing the loss. Brierley says, “In Yuma where we have summer crops that are commodities like cotton and grain and hay and things like that.Those have been tumbling the animal sector has been tumbling and then they need less hay and less feed.”
With farmers losing more money it could be difficult to stay in the business. “It’s difficult to weather these storms,” says Brierley but adds, “it is good for the consumer they see lower prices in store and safe healthy food at good and affordable prices.”
Because of the fluctuations in the agricultural economy, Yuma Farmers will have to decide soon whether or not they are going to grow the same crop or switch to a new crop in hopes to get more money. “Now you make a lot more profit by deciding, what crop you are going to grow, when, and what price you are going to contract it at,” Brierley says. “Those are the economics they face so they have to be shrewd businessmen in order to survive.”