FRESNO, California (KSEE) – “You know this kind of feels like the death by a thousand cuts here for the local agriculture community,” said Ryan Jacobsen, the CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.
Ups and downs for more than a year now — the pandemic, wildfires and now fuel costs.
“Now here we are, hopefully coming out of COVID, hopefully seeing some better times as far as markets and now we have this other challenge. When we talk fuel prices, specifically diesel prices, it has larger ramifications on the farm because we are so energy intensive,” said Jacobsen.
From the fuel-powered tractors to the transportation to get the food distributed to warehouses into the groceries, owner of Nilmeier Farms, Keith Nilmeier says not only is it affecting the consumer, it’s even tougher on the farmer.
“It’s a double whammy what it costs us to actually produce it, but then what it costs to get it processed and to you and those extra fuel costs with that and it usually ends up coming out of the farmer’s pocket.”
Why is it coming out of the farmer’s pocket?
“We have no ability to tell the packer or the processor or the winery or the canner or the freezer whatever, ‘I got to have more because this is how much more it costs me.’ They just tell me, ‘Hey man that’s supply and demand and that’s all we’re offering, so you either sell it or you don’t and you let it rot.’”
As gas prices rise to as much as $6 in some parts of the state, Nilmeier says how everyone can help his industry that feeds the world is to buy American, buy California.
“When it comes from California, you have the very best because we have the strictest and safest rules of any state in our country and any country in the world.”
The rise in gas prices is expected to continue through Memorial Day and as COVID-19 restrictions lift for travel.