By Clint Thompson
The great author Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” in his famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities. The current state of affairs can best be described as challenging times for Georgia’s specialty crop producers.
Consider how input costs have skyrocketed since last spring; how labor availability remains an uncertainty from one year to the next; and with increased imports, growers are fighting for every penny.
Jeff Dorfman, University of Georgia Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and State Fiscal Economist for Georgia, encourages producers to stay vigilant in planning ahead and knowing what their budget is.
“A lot of input costs are up between 40% and a little over 100%. I talked to a bunch of farmers (recently), chemical salespeople, and the big thing I talked about was farmers need to get a serious pricing model,” Dorfman said. “Nobody has a clue anymore in their head. You better have an Excel spreadsheet and put your input costs in and figure out, how much fertilizer am I using? How many tractor hours am I using? What’s my labor costs? How many chemicals did I spray? Figure out what your production costs really are. Otherwise, you could take a price that used to be a good price and lose money.”
Dorfman recently spoke at the Georgia Ag Forecast meeting. He understands the struggles that producers are trying to overcome.
“Farmers are probably the least happy people about the economy right now. I think commodity prices are high enough that farmers can get through the period of high input prices. I think the input prices will moderate and farmers can get back to paying more reasonable prices,” Dorfman said. “They may not make a lot of money this year. They may not have made a lot of money last year. But they’re not necessarily losing a lot of money if they’re careful with their pricing.
“Farmers will get through this.”