|By Ike Wilson, The Frederick News-Post, Md.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Agriculture experts are calling for a spike in food prices due to extended drought in the west and fruit tree damage in the Midwest.
Closer to home,
Calimer's fruit trees and berries were damaged only minimally from the recent cold snap, he said, "but the fuel cost may affect our prices more than anything."
Calimer, of Scenic View Orchards, said local producers will have to wait and see what the markets will do in terms of food prices, but he is hopeful for a good yield come harvest time.
"That is, if we get no additional surprises, weather-wise,"
Prices rise when demand exceeds supply. Calimer said Scenic View Orchards was selling a box of squash for
As of now, the farmers don't know how much they will increase prices, and they aren't sure how the national produce shortfall will affect their operations.
The Midwest has lost a lot of stone fruit crops (peaches, plums, nectarines) and that might send prices higher, too, Calimer said.
But the two farmers said they must walk a fine line between raising prices and ensuring their customers return to patronize their business next year when yields are greater.
"We're not like the big chain stores, we're a family business, and we can raise prices a little to cover insurance premiums, fuel costs and equipment repair," Black said. "But we're not going to gouge people because they got to come back to us next year."
Local producers who grow what they sell are not operating under the same rules and conditions as chain stores, Black said.
Certain food items will cost a bit more this year, Black said.
"You can't plant a tree and pick fruit the same year, but you can grow vegetables nearly all year round," Black said.
It seems as if local producers will get by, Black said, "but we won't know for sure until the products are picked and in storage."
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