New Jersey farmers and consumers are being told that they’ll have to take drastic measures to avoid paying more for their berries and produce.
Bertrand Meyer of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture says they’re closing more than 70 farms and shutting down dozens of operations as the state recovers from a historic drought.
He said some growers have been paying out of pocket for their produce for more than a year and are now forced to sell it at a loss to raise money.
“This is not an issue that we’re going to be able to resolve in a couple of months,” Meyer said.
“I’m really concerned that we are going to see people’s crops fall below their income,” he said.
Many of the closures are occurring on the farm lands of the Big Five Berry Farms.
They’ve been operating since 2014.
The Big Five berries are grown by the same growers that are the biggest producers in New Jersey, but they’re also competing with other growers in a region with limited water.
“They have a very strong presence in this region, which means that the quality of their berries is not up to par,” Meyer told CBC.
“We’re seeing people paying more in this area, so it’s definitely a concern.”
Bertrands, or the family of berries, are a type of blueberries that is grown in the U.S. and Canada.
They are a very popular, sweet berg.
But the price of the berries has skyrocketed, according to Meyer.
“It is very important that we do everything possible to reduce the costs of production, and the cost of storage,” he added.
Meyer said he’s not sure how much the new price will impact consumers.
“In terms of our farmers, we’ll continue to monitor that,” he explained.
“But right now, I’m not really sure that we can make any assumptions.”
For many, the closure of the farms will be a difficult adjustment.
“The cost of strawberries is way up.
I have a lot of work to do to pay my bills, and I’m sure we’ll all need to take some time to figure out what we can do,” said Elizabeth Johnson.”
A lot of people just want to get back to their normal life,” she added.
But some growers say they are still taking the time to adjust.
“If I had my way, the last thing I’d be doing is closing up my farm,” said Steve D’Ambrosio.
He’s closing his farm on New York’s Upper West Side.
The farm was established in 1868 and was located near the old West Side Railroad Station.
“All of a sudden, it’s just a really stressful situation,” D’Ambrosio said.
But he said he still feels like he can keep the farm open.
“You have to find your way.
You have to get your mind right, you have to understand what’s going on, and you have a responsibility to the people who are living here,” he told CBC News.
The last few weeks have been very difficult for farmers, said Meyer.
He says the price hikes have been affecting the market, which is hurting the industry.
“These prices have been so high that we’ve been able to close up shop,” Meyer explained.
Meader says he’s optimistic that things will get better in a few weeks, but for now, he’s urging people to make the switch.
“There’s going to have to be some sort of adjustment period, but we’re ready to go,” he warned.
“And I would urge you to get out and get out, if you can.”