DEER LAKE — Local farmers are calling this year the worst growing season ever, and they say consumers could bear the brunt at the supermarket next year.
The unusually dry weather didn’t just scorch some local fields, a drought was experienced over much of the United States, which is where most local farmers get their feedstock for their animals.
Lee Noel, of N&N Farm Ltd., said he grows some of his own hay for the dairy cows. But he said, if the farm didn’t grow enough and if next year is anything like this year, he’s not sure what will happen.
“The people who are buying forage have to buy a lot more of it this year and it will be at a higher price because of drought conditions,” he said.
“I’m thinking the way it’s going, everything will be going up in price, I think it’s going to be a tough year.”
Cormack is home to several dairy farms.
Noel said the heat can also affect the cows. More farmers are putting fans in their barns because when the heat gets up to over 20 C, it can affect production.
Those fans are just one of several expenses farmers have to incur if they want to survive in business.
Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture chairman Eugene Legge said those expenses are worsening an already precarious situation.
Surging fuel prices mean farm equipment such as tractors cannot be run cheaply. For those that use electric irrigation, the bill could get very high.
Legge, a chicken farmer, said the east coast actually had a fairly good growing season according to the federation’s records. And in the central region, he said a combination of heat and rain meant central Newfoundland farmers may have had a better year than most in this province.
But everyone’s expenses are going up in business, and he said it’s no different for farmers.
Legge said it’s all about supply and demand, meaning a big demand for feedstock and a smaller supply.
“As farmers’ costs go up, consumers will pay,” he said.
“Farmers can only swallow so much of an increase at a time and eventually they’ll have to pass on their expenses, it’s like any business.”
A spokesperson for the Rideout Farmers Market near Cormack said the past summer started off fairly slow for growing vegetables, but it did get better in the last few weeks of the growing season.
The dry summer affected berries as well. There was only a two-week growing period for strawberries according to Gerard Beaulieu of Rocky Brook Farm in Reidville, and for the first time in nearly two decades, he said, pears didn’t grow at all.
But this year’s berry problems came mainly from a less than perfect winter, said Beaulieu. Plant roots died as a result of not getting enough snow cover when temperatures dipped to -17 C some winter nights.
The summer drought, he said, only added to the misery.