RUTLEDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Like other businesses, Stratton’s wholesale farming business, Stratton Farms, is feeling the pinch of the increase in cost during the rise of inflation.
That didn’t stop them from continuing to host this year’s Grainger County Tomato Festival, an event that has been going on for almost 40 years.
“We grow Mr. Stripey tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, Roma tomatoes,” farmer Kim Stratton said. “You name it, we pretty much grow it.”
With the rise of inflation, paying for produce became costly for the business.
He said, “It’s actually wearing us out because everything we’re putting in has doubled in price. Some of it’s tripled. Just these boxes we put the tomatoes in, they’ve gone from 0.65 to 0.80 cents and we’re paying $1.80 now.”
Steve Longmire owns Tennessee Home Grown Tomatoes and Sunfresh Produce, and describes that all of the prices are up. However, compared to last year’s festival, a box of his tomatoes was about five dollars cheaper.
Longmire said, “They have went up a little bit. Now, it’s not really enough to cover all the extra expense that we’ve had. As everyone knows this expense that we’ve had, well, I’m not going to say it’s not completely out of control but it sure is getting close to it.”
Some of the farmers are trying to figure out ways to still purchase produce during this difficult time.
“It’s just making it hard to make the ends meet at the end of the day,” Stratton said. “You have to diversify as much as you can, try not to be wasteful at all and just the make best of it for right now.”
While Stratton hasn’t had to increase the prices on his produce, it’s a different story for the cattle he raises.
He said, “The input cost of fertilizer and things of that nature we use on the pasture it’s more than doubled. It’s up probably 150% over 16, 18 months ago.”
Longmire added that the costs changed a lot since the new administration took office.
Despite the inflation woes, both farmers appreciate their customers at the Tomato Festival.
The latest data reveals annual consumer prices jumped more than 9% in June.