County AG Report: National Ag Week Struggles
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - This week is National Ag Week. It coincides with National Ag Day on March 22nd. While it’s supposed to be a time to celebrate the contribution of agriculture to our everyday lives, bigger issues have overshadowed the agriculture industry this year. As Rob Koenig found out in this week’s county ag report, farms across the county are facing an upward battle of challenges.
Koenig: it’s no secret that agriculture plays a big role in the community here in the county. That’s why national ag week seems like it would be a big deal to most folks. But this year, Thomas Ayer, the owner of circle b farms in caribou says he is seeing firsthand the struggle and hardships farmers are facing.
Ayer: “With the rise of inflation, and the cost of seed fertilizer, spray chemicals, and transportation. We’ve had to find different ways, and probably most other farmers in Aroostook county have had to find ways to be able to cut their budget in order to make sure they have seed, fertilizer, and chemicals.”
Koenig: and these aren’t the only challenges farms are facing.
Ayer: “It’s just, it’s tough. When you look at, when you look at rising mill rates in cities, and rising land rent, it’s just difficult to try to be able to put stuff together, and try to be cost effective. The farmer takes it on the chin a lot, from buyers and sellers. Our margins are pretty thin to begin with.”
Koenig: while the impact from these challenges can leave a lasting impression on a community, Ayer hopes that the county will be able to overcome and adapt.
Ayer: “Agriculture has been and always will be the lifeblood of this county, even going back centuries. I feel that the agriculture community in Aroostook county is an adapt and overcome type of community, and we’re always going to be able to get seed in the ground, and be able to produce a good quality product for the rest of the country.”
Koenig: while it appears these struggles won’t be going away anytime soon, Ayer says it’s important to keep a positive outlook. He adds understanding the issues and concerns facing the industry will help prepare for the future, with the hope next year’s national ag week can be celebrated in a more positive light.
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