The Economy and East Texas Farming

by Kirby Gibbs

LUFKIn, TX (KTRE) - Agriculture is a hot commodity in Texas. In fact it has the second largest economic impact... It accounts for 80 billion dollars of the states' income. So KTRE spoke with  local farmer and Manager of Angelina County Farmer's Market, Mike Kennerly, to discuss how this downturning economy may impact farming this season.

For the past year and a half the economy has been a fright for many individuals and businesses.... Including the farmer's market.

"The fuel cost was really high, natural gas prices were high which naturally drove up the price for fertilizer and that was sometimes double, some cases tripple" said Kennerly.

While farmer's were bumming out over the slumping economy...along came the jalepeno and tomato samonella scare.

Kennerly told KTRE, "We were approached by lots of people that were looking for home grown produce because of the salmonella scare with the tomatoes and it helped our business. It picked up, it boomed. We sold every bit of local produce we could get our hands on."

Now, farmer's are hoping that this season, the economy won't be an issue. While samonella is still a hot topic, it may not be enough to bail them out, this time.

"We're real optimistic, we feel like it could be a good year, even with the prices high", exclaimed the farmer. "Most of the farmer's I know are cutting back on their fertilizer cost and they're cutting corners every way they can."

For most farmer's cutting back and saving is the answer to bringing them up and out of financial woes, but with dry conditions, all that may rise from these fields are dust and dirt.

"Right now our problem is rain. We need rain bad. It's been reall dry. Nothings gonna want to grow and what little bit will grow, it's gonna grow real slow."

But whether it's the economy - or the land that's dry, with farming, you may not always reap what you sow.

"Sometimes it's hard to" admits Kennerly. "Sometimes you just got to spend the money and hope you get the rain and hope you have a good growing season".

Farmers won't know exactly how the economy will affect farming this season until April, when they start pricing goods and production costs.

However, today at a conference concerning the economy, Texas Comptroller, Susan Combs told KTRE that farmers should be reassured that unlike this past year, this farming season, things seem to be looking up.

"We're not going to see a run up of oil numbers up above about 50,55 something like that, which means that the cost of producing the fertilizers to grow the crops will also drop. And I'm optimistic that the next three to four months we'll see a kind of reduction in some of those prices for the producers."

If the weather says the same, you'll be able to enjoy locally grown produce at the Angelina County Farmer's Market begining May 1st.