Skyrocketing costs are hurting Alabama farmers—here’s how to help

Alabama Farmers
We can help Alabama farmers navigate these challenges. (Zoe Schaeffer)

Alabama farmers have new issues to navigate these days. Learn more about the hurdles our local farmers are working to cope with and how we can support them, including specific tips from The Alabama Farmers Federation.

Inflation and rising fuel costs impact Alabama farmers

We’re all feeling the sting of rising gas prices, and Alabama farmers are no exception. Next time you’re bracing for the pain at the pump, imagine paying to fuel up multiple tractors and farming equipment. Yikes.

Of course, it’s not just gas prices—farmers are also still coping with the impact of the pandemic with supply chain issues and raised inflation across the board.

We spoke with the team at The Alabama Farmers Federation for more details on the day-to-day life of Alabama Farmers in 2022.

Set pricing is another hurdle

Nowadays, it’s more expensive to raise livestock and grow and harvest crops, so we’re going to see higher prices at the store and the farmers will end up in the green, right? Well… not exactly.

Jeff Helms, Director of Communication at The Alabama Farmers Federation, explained an interesting phenomenon of “set pricing” which can lead to major losses for farmers, especially those that raise crops traded on commodity markets. He also shed some light on pretty staggering statistics regarding farmer’s profit margins at large supermarkets and stores. On average, they receive only around 10% of what the item is selling for, regardless of what it cost the farmer to produce.

“One of the challenges with inflation is that it’s more difficult for farmers to pass along the increased cost of production of their product as compared to other industries. If it costs a clothing manufacturer more to buy the material that’s going into their product, then they can raise the price. But, the farmer doesn’t have the power to raise their price—specifically for farmers who are raising crops that are traded on commodity markets, like pork, cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat—farmers have virtually no control over the price that they receive for their product. And that’s different than just about any other industry.”

—Jeff Helms, Director of Communication, The Alabama Farmers Federation

How to support Alabama farmers—shop local

Alabama Farmer'S Markets
Homegrown goodness. (The Market at Pepper Place)

If you’re reading this and wondering how you can support Alabama farmers, we’ve got you covered. According to The Alabama Farmers Federation, the best thing you can do to support farmers from a monetary standpoint is to buy directly from them whenever possible.

Don’t know where to source local goodies? Check out this handy resource, SweetGrownAlabama, for helpful farmer locators, seasonal produce guides and more.

“Anytime you can buy direct from a farm is certainly a benefit to the farmers. I would also point people to a program we’ve helped with and that the State Department of Agriculture is involved with, it’s called Sweet Grown Alabama. This is a program that’s specifically branded Alabama products that are produced on Alabama farms. We definitely encourage people to take a look at that and know that they’re buying from a local producer and helping those local, rural economies.”

—Mitt Walker, Director of Governmental and Agricultural Programs, The Alabama Farmers Federation

For bonus points: be courteous and empathetic

How else can you support Alabama Farmers? Show compassion and understanding for their situation, Jeff Helms says.

Whether that’s lending an ear, offering a word of encouragement or showing a little extra patience the next time a tractor drives in front of you on your way to work, it all counts.

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Madison Croxson
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