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High Cost of Farming

November 21st, 2007 by Mike Vasilinda

As you sit down to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal, you may notice that it cost more to put the food on your table. Rising energy costs are driving up food prices. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, those cost are also squeezing the farmers who produce the food.

Itís feed time for the beef cattle on the Spears-Wilkerson farm. The land has been in the same family for more than 100 years.

“This land has always been used for cows and pasture,” farmer Lovelle Wilkerson said.

The Wilkersons have 30 head of cattle here; another 100 on two other farms. A cow is usually ready to go to market in 7 to 9 months and it can fetch 575 dollars at auction.

Rising energy costs are driving up the cost of fertilizer and that means it costs more to feed the cattle. The fertilizer the family uses is nitrogen based. Itís price is expected to jump by a third next year.

“Is our food going up a third? If a farmer donít get paid that third, thereís going to be less of them in business,” Bob Wilkerson said.

Itís not just beef. Government figures say itís produce, itís milk., itís poultry. All up 23 percent in the last year. All because of higher fuel prices.

Despite the challenges, the Wilkersons love what they do.

ďItís harder physical work but you donít notice it because youíre working for yourself,Ē Bob Wilkerson said. ď You donít worry about the time too much, because like I said youíre working for yourself.”

And while family farms are dying out, Bob and Lovelle Wilkerson have hope for the future of their farm. One of their grandsons will likely take it over…but not until he finishes college.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services designated the Spears-Wilkerson farm a Century Pioneer Family Farm.

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