Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Price increase of March, 2008

I have received an e mail from a much appreciated long-standing supporter about our price increase of March, and would like to share my response. My guess is, many farm members would like to know why in this economic climate Farmer Donna would increase prices.



Donna:

What is going on with the dynamic invoicing price swings and increases? Are these rates expected to be stable for the next several months? Also, it seems like you just raised the rates..........



Here's my response:

Hi ____,
I really appreciate your support and understand price increases effect everyone. Two and a half years ago, when diesel fuel was half what we’re paying today, the large basket was 40 a week. Now it’s 44.50.

Since fuel costs are a critical component of our produce delivery program, I don’t know what the future holds. Rumors of diesel going to $6 a gallon would certainly effect our weekly basket price, as well as everything else for sale in this country. The basket’s recent price increase was at the end of March and was a $2 a basket increase, pretty much a reflection of the minimum wage increase of January and the sky rocketing gas prices. Property taxes on our farm increase without fail, every year. Water prices have significantly increased in the last 12 months for farmers in San Diego County, due to the water shortage crisis. Fuel prices have effected deliveries as well as the farm’s fertilizer costs. In fact, anything at all that has to be shipped to us, has been increased. And all necessary services provided to us, such as soil analysis, certification, fertilizer deliveries, seeds, and animal feed have increased in cost, no doubt because of the minimum wage increase and fuel costs.


There was a time, early in my CSA days, when I ignored the fact that the CSA wasn’t paying for itself, or paying me anything, either for that matter. Hey, I was used to not getting paid, as the farm had never supported an income for me, even before I had a CSA, and had never paid the farm’s mortgage. I so love what I do, I just had faith that eventually as new plantings came into production, as I found markets for hard to sell rare fruit, and as I became more experienced in general, the farm would be able to pay me a salary and all of it’s expenses. For years, I worked full time, delivered a great product, and dipped into savings each month to make it all happen. That’s not working for free, as my husband has pointed out, that’s working for less than free.



I changed the model of the farm’s operation from farmers’ markets to CSA when he insisted I staunch the red ink or sell the farm. But with only a handful of CSA members, the red ink continued to flow. Not discouraged, I figured when I got enough supporters, and no fruit or produce was being thrown away, the bottom line would iron out. And it has! We’re closing in on 80 fabulous supporters, for whom I am really grateful. I have no choice but to keep a close eye on actual costs and pass them on to the community of supporters that want the farm to continue. That is the very definition of Community Supported Agriculture.

I am very aware that my farm is supported by people, many of whom are being hit hard by the current economic climate. I know there may come a day when I have to give up the farm if supporters are unable to assist me in keeping it going. I sure hope that day doesn’t come, but know that despite my love for the farm and passion for what I do, I am also running a business that has to be relevant and financially, not just environmentally, sustainable.

I think your concerns are valid, so much so that I’m going to post this on my blog. Thanks for letting me know what you think, surely lots of others are thinking the same thing.

Sincerely,

Farmer Donna

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