Nation’s farmers grapple with surging cost of food production

Morning In America

(NewsNation) — It’s “survival mode” for Buddy McKinstry, who said he, like many of the nation’s farmers, is overwhelmed by the rising cost of food production.

“It’s just survival mode for right now until we can figure it out,” he said.

Consumer prices jumped 8.3% last month, according to the Labor Department. That was below the 8.5% year-over-year surge in March, which was the highest rate since 1981.

Inflation in the United States hit a 40-year high in March.

McKinstry grew up on farms. Now he runs one with his son and says this has been the worst year he’s ever had.

According to McKinstry, he is clearing the last of their corn then shipping it out, hoping to just break even.

“Just a struggle,” he said. “Either you cut back or you quit farming or you try to be innovative.”

McKinstry said he had to cut production by 25% and this year, he is just getting by.

In an attempt to innovate, McKinstry planted more vegetables like watermelon, bell peppers and green beans. But McKinstry says it’s not the crops that are hurting them. It’s the cost of everything else.

The biggest challenge this year, according to McKinstry, has been the rising cost of diesel fuel because everything on the farm is affected by it.

“The fuel affects everything. It affects fertilizer and chemicals,” he said.

On average, diesel is $5.50 a gallon. It makes up nearly 30 to 40% of the farm’s budget and this year, those numbers are devastating.

McKinstry says it costs them thousands just to keep his tractors running, and it costs even more to ship their crops to their customers.

“Costs to get corn or produce up to New York or Eastern Seaboard up there was $1,800 a year ago [is now] at four and $5,000 to $6,000,” he said. “Same truck because of fuel costs.”

Supplies are also an issue. In just a year, the crates used for packaging corn went up from $1.85 to $2.93.

“That’s $400 One item of our bottom line,” McKinstry said. “Hopefully somebody can get it straightened out, get things back to normal. Be a lot of people hungry if we don’t.”

This is part of “Morning in America’s” Economic Brain Room.

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