A Link in the Chain: Drought, Flood & Low Commodity Prices Create Crises for Many in Agribusiness
Carolina Agri-Power, LLC is a tractor and farm equipment dealer in Orangeburg, SC. General Sales Manager Jimmy Gleason says he noticed a decline in sales the summer of 2015. The state was in a drought and farmers were losing their crops. Gleason would continue to see sales drop throughout the fall and winter, after the state’s historic 1,000-year flood.
Ten miles away in Cameron, John Perrow is starting to prepare his fields for the 2016 planting season. Perrow lost just under 100 acres of peanuts during flood, and explains how the drought, the flood and now low commodity prices have created an almost “do or die” situation for farmers and others along the agribusiness line. South Carolina Public Radio’s ThelishaEaddy has more on the story.
On the heels of the flood, Gleason says he thinks farmers were being extra careful about their purchases, earlier in the year.
“A lot of times, they would buy their equipment for spring in December, January and February. We didn’t sell any equipment in January,” he said.
As fields dry and farmers prepare for the next planting season, Gleason says he’s seeing an increase in sales.
“February, we started picking up a little bit with small equipment. In March we’ve picked up tremendously on the larger equipment.”
Back in Cameron, Perrow says he’s about a month away from planting his next round of peanuts. Thinking back to last year, Perrow said “our peanuts were affected [by the flood].We were lucky to start harvesting a couple of weeks prior to the flood.”
Perrow says the next four to five weeks will be extremely busy ones.
“Right now, we’re still trying to fix drains. Next week, we will be putting down lime; and the following week, we’ll be putting out fertilizer and start spraying to kill weeds before we start planting,” He said.
But because prices on primary agricultural products, or commodities, are so low, Clemson Extension Agent, David Dewitt, says there is one more task Perrow, and other farmers rebounding from the flood, need to consider.
“Your only chance to make money with low prices is to increase your yields. So a high yield to make dollars per acre is what you’re going to have to concentrate on to get your yields up,” DeWitt said.
He says there is no way to make up for last year in one year, but advises “it’s imperative that we have a good yield this year, just to kind of maintain and not go in the hole anymore,” he added.