Drought Starting to Take Toll on Farmer’s Markets

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February 07 2021 05:30 pm
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Farmers around the Midwest are struggling because of this summer's brutal drought conditions. It's meant less produce for some, poorer quality produce for others - and many farmers say it'll mean higher prices for everybody.

At the Briarcliff Farmers Market in the Northland, farmer Gerry Newman says that the drought has made it more difficult for him to give his customers what they want.

"We have a lot of things that require a lot of irrigation, and if I wasn't watering we just wouldn't have anything," said Newman, who says that his water bill is up to three times higher than normal because of the lack of rainfall to water his crops.

Still, Newman says that he won't pass that cost on to his customers. Briarcliff Farmer's Market event planner Joel McGuire says that vendors and customers still come out faithfully each Thursday, but the harsh summer could mean a shorter farmer's market season.

"A lot of the farmers still have lots of crops," said McGuire. "But now that the season is winding down we're having some folks dropping out and stuff like that."

At the Kansas City City Market, which has a year-round farmer's market, market master Deb Connors says that many farmers are giving up on their summer crops in hopes of a better fall.

"A lot of the farms I visit each week they're starting to plow up things that are burning in the field that aren't going to produce any more," said Connors, who says that a mild winter and a good spring helped the City Market get off to a good start.

Connors says that, at least so far, the farmers she works with haven't passed on the higher costs of irrigation on to customers - but that could happen soon.

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