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Local farmers are grappling with inflation and high prices

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 6:04 PM EDT
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NILES, Mich. (WNDU) - All across the country, produce prices are on the rise, and right here in Michiana, it’s no different.

As local crops will soon yield fruits and vegetables, produce will be much more affordable, but until then, many factors are keeping those prices on the rise.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Economic Research Service Division, farm-level vegetable prices increased by 42.4 percent in March 2022 and reached 81.5 percent above the prices observed in March 2021

Fuel costs, adverse weather, raw materials for farmers (specifically fertilizer), and labor shortages are some of the main reasons we see higher prices at grocery stores.

Another major event happening far from home is beginning to affect our prices as well, the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“This is a global economy, and currently, we know Ukraine is under attack. A lot of people don’t know that they are the breadbasket of Europe. They’re the largest country in Europe, they have the most agricultural ground in Europe, they’re the third-largest exporter of grains, so it’s going to put a pressure on worldwide supplies, which of course, affects us as well,” said Shelton Farms Partner Joe Shelton.

Shelton Farms has multiple business venues under one roof. They own farms, have a retail store, and are also wholesale produce distributors. They have been doing business in Michiana for 75 years.

Like Shelton’s Farm Market, some stores have been able to keep quality high and prices not as high as many other stores.

But how are they doing it?

“We’re seeing our input costs going up daily. We try to stay very close to our supplies. We’re proud of the fact that many of the things we buy, we buy direct from the source. So, we’re able to minimize the cost to our consumers,” Shelton said. “So, even at this time when prices are going up, we try to stay as competitive as we can, and in fact, as prices get higher, our margins get smaller because we try not to pass on the cost increases that we’re seeing as much as we can afford to. We have our own farms, have our own retail, we’re also wholesale distributors, and we’ve developed a lot of good contacts throughout the years, good sources of supplies.”

And it seems that inflation and high prices are here to stay for at least a little while, as Wall Street and Deutsche Bank have both predicted recessions in late 2023 or early 2024.

For more information on Shelton Farms, click here.

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