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Weber County family farm fights through herbicide shortages, drought, rising costs



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

OGDEN — A shortage of chemicals found in herbicides is putting even more rising costs on the backs of Utah farmers in an already difficult year.

At the McFarland family farms in Weber County, they're dealing with so many rising costs along with the drought, that it's all they can do just to get by this year.

Less water means fewer crops, but that's just one of the problems farmers are facing right now.

"Not only is it tough this year, it's tough every year," said Kenny McFarland.

He is seeing shortages of many things right now, including herbicides.

"The different chemicals we had to use this spring didn't work as well, so we had a crop of sweetcorn that was full of weeds," he said.

Along with that, higher costs for fertilizer means he had to buy less.

"There's not a huge profit margin for most crops, for most farmers," he said. "And so we have to weigh the pros and cons of whether or not it's worth it to spend the extra cost on the fertilizer, and so we've had to cut back to make it work."

On top of that, add in higher prices for plastics, metal and fuel. McFarland said costs hit him at every level.

"All of those prices have increased in one year, more than we've ever seen in my entire 12 years of farming with my dad," he lamented.

The McFarlands won't take home much money when it's all said and done.

While they have some room to raise prices on what they sell from produce stands, the product that goes to grocers is a different story.

"In general, it just depends on the wider market, and most always the brokers and the supply chain and the grocery stores are going to make whatever extra money comes available. And the farmers will just keep trying to make enough just to go another year," he explained.

McFarland said it's tough to keep going through times like this. He just hopes things will turn around next year.

"You're basically at the end of the day just happy to be able to work the land. And the land is, being able to care for the land and grow food," he said.

McFarland added one positive note. Since our agriculture producers are spread all over the country, and they each face different challenges at different times, we're not going to run out of food.

We just may have to pay more for it.

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Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson often doubles as his own photographer, shooting and editing most of his stories. He came to KSL in April 2011 after working for several years at various broadcast news outlets.

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