'It's tough': Triangle farmers facing impact of inflation forcing them into raising prices

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A sunny Wednesday afternoon drew out plenty of shoppers to the State Farmer's Market in Raleigh, with booths lined up both indoors and outdoors displaying their offerings.

"It's great to see people coming back and getting out. We had to think outside the box taking produce to people's places and selling stuff," Bruce Larry owner of Joyce's Produce in Youngsville said.

They work with other farmers in the state, as well as distributors nationally and internationally to bring in items to sell.

"The shipping charges, the fuel surtaxes and things like that we're seeing on invoices make a big impact on us especially when we order a large amount of product," said Larry who did note that supply chain challenges have been largely alleviated compared to earlier in the pandemic.

Still, those extra costs have forced them to raise prices.

"It's kind of across the board. It's just all the products, the gift products, the jams and jellies, the sauces. Everything across the board seems to be taking a hit," Larry explained. He said customers have been largely understanding.

Michael Jones, owner of MAE Farm in Louisburg, has operated a booth at the market since 2007.

"This is just kind of a perfect storm year in that a lot of things have gone poorly at the same time. There's been some droughts, there's been some energy costs. There's been some repercussions from COVID. Obviously the war in Ukraine is going to cause a lot of trouble," said Jones.

Like Larry, Jones represents both his farm and others.
"We produce food on our farm and then we purchase food from other small farmers in North Carolina and then we bring it here and sell it," Jones said.

Jones has felt the price hike in both cost to operate his farm and transportation.

"Fuel number one because everything we do - the diesel for the tractor, the diesel for the truck. I'm on the road three days a week either taking animals to be processed, picking up products, picking up dairy, eggs, meat, bringing it here," Jones said, estimating he's spending $5,000 a year more on fuel due to higher prices.

"That's just a complete loss. And then corn and soy which is fed to my pigs and to the chickens that we get eggs from, those costs have gone up probably the highest (in a decade). So it's tough because it eats into your profit."

A report from the International Monetary Fund predicts global food prices will increase by 14% in 2022 before steadily declining next year, though the uncertainty of the war in Ukraine makes projections difficult.

Crude oil prices have been choppy over the past month, though as of Wednesday afternoon they were down nearly 7% on the month; still that represented an increase of more than 33% since the beginning of the year.

Another produce driving up costs - fertilizer; one farmer told ABC 11 off-camera they're paying more than double for fertilizer, which is facing a shortage.
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