Farming in 2022 – Grand Forks Gazette

The current global economy is not only creating major price hikes on consumer goods, putting strain on us all on how to feed our families, but also putting unrealistic pressure on our local farmers. Whether you are a vegetable producer, meat producer or egg producer, the current challenges of 2022 are putting enormous pressure on our local farms. How can our local farmers afford to continue farming and how can our local families support our local farmers?

The Grand Forks Farmer’s Market is a great place to start! Many of our local producers have stepped up to meet the ever-changing challenges of climate change. For example, growing in greenhouses has increased many farmers’ ability to produce vegetables and fruits earlier in the season and better protect them from changing weather conditions, as well as produce seedlings that you can plant in your garden. The Grand Forks Farmers Market has a great selection of these fresh, local produce and seedlings for purchase.

In addition to changing weather conditions, our egg farmers nationwide face many other challenges. Whether it’s a dramatic increase in feed costs or outbreaks of bird flu in various communities, the pressure is enormous. These producers are trying to balance their costs with what they charge for a dozen eggs. Their flocks lay eggs year-round, and demand varies greatly throughout the year, ranging from high demand during market season to low demand in winter, when shorter days and colder temperatures can make difficult to predict the number of laying hens. Hens lay about one egg per day in the summer, but even lower production in the winter can create a large surplus from October to May. What to do with those eggs is a constant concern of egg producers. Many producers donate their eggs to local charities, which helps at tax time, but it’s hard to pay food bills with a charitable donation receipt. So why not sell in local grocery stores? Most small egg producers cannot sell their eggs at a local grocery store as these eggs must pass through an egg grading station which must be approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) . This is a high cost that is inaccessible unless you are a very large producer. During the market season (May to October), local market demand is in full swing and the same local producer may face a shortage of eggs.

Egg production may seem like a big farming business, as it is one of the products that a farmer can produce, value and sell, which does not require any off-farm investment. There are no additional costs for cutting and packing, transport or processing. But there are hidden costs in addition to the high cost of feed and livestock. The most important of these is the cost of egg cartons, they approach the price of a dollar each. Then there is insurance, having a coop for the chickens, access to hot water to wash the eggs, and transportation to market. We’ve heard a lot in the news about the dramatic increase in the cost of food over the past few months and that’s true whether you’re buying food by the bag or having it delivered by a food truck. Organic food has increased even more at the same time. Besides that, there are always predators there to keep them on their toes. Bobcats can visit and wipe out your entire flock overnight, cougars and bears can damage many birds in a short time. Skunks and birds of prey do not hesitate to visit your chicken coop. To add even more worry to this long list, the current threats of bird flu mean that even the smallest producers have to comply with trade regulations, there is a lot more work to be done to keep the chickens safe and the farm unaffected by the virus, such as stricter bio-safety measures that regulate who can come to the farm and limit foot traffic to the barns. This, combined with the fear that you are one infection away from losing your entire herd, greatly increases the level of stress and concern for farmers. The cost of a laying bird can be up to $25.00 each, it doesn’t take long to be a costly loss. Grand Forks Farmers Market egg farmers always need your support. If you look at our local grocery stores and compare prices, you will notice that our local free range eggs are always cheaper on the market and are as fresh as possible. If you drive around the community or talk to our farmers, you can be sure that those hens that produce your eggs are being taken care of in the best possible way. And they always need clean egg cartons, because if they can just get their cartons back, it can help increase the bottom line for our farmers and keep them in farming.

GFFM is open now through October, please come to Gyro Park Tuesdays and Fridays 8am-1pm rain or shine to support all of your local producers.

Grand Forks Farmers Market (GFFM)

James V. Payne