Grand Forks Farmers Market: Being a Farmer in 2022.

Is farming just a way of life or can farming support itself?

The Grand Forks Farmer’s Market on Friday morning. (Audrey Gunn/Grand Forks Gazette)

The Grand Forks Farmer’s Market on Friday morning. (Audrey Gunn/Grand Forks Gazette)

The current world economy is not just creating large price increases on consumer goods, putting a strain on all of us on how to feed our families, but is also putting unrealistic pressure on our local farmers. Whether you are a vegetable producer, a meat producer or egg producer, the current challenges of 2022 are placing enormous pressure on our local farms. How can our local farmers afford to keep farming and how can our local families support our local farmers?

The Grand Forks Farmers Market is a great place to start! Many of our local producers have stepped up to meet the ever-changing challenges of climate change. For example growing in greenhouses has increased the ability of many farmers to produce vegetables and fruits earlier in the season and keep them better protected from changing weather patterns, as well produce seedlings for you to plant in your garden. The Grand Forks Farmers Market has a great selection of this fresh, local produce and seedlings for you to buy.

On top of the changing weather, our egg producers nationwide are working through many other challenges. From a tremendous increase in feed costs, to avian flu outbreaks in various communities, the pressure is tremendous. These producers try and balance their costs with what they charge for a dozen eggs. Their flocks lay year-round, and the demand varies greatly throughout the year, from high demand in market season to low demand in the winter, when shorter days and colder temperatures can make it hard to predict how much the chickens will be laying. The chickens lay about an egg a day in the summer, but even lower production in winter can create a large surplus from October to May. What to do with these eggs is an egg producers continued concern. Many producers donate their eggs to local charities, this helps at tax time but is hard to pay feed bills with a charitable donation receipt. So why not sell in the local grocery stores? Most small-scale egg producers can not sell their eggs in a local food store as these eggs have to go through an egg grading station which must be Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) approved. This is a large cost that is unattainable unless you are a very large producer. During the market season (May to October), the local market demand is in full swing and the same local producer can be dealing with a shortage of eggs.

Egg production might seem like a great farm endeavour as it is one of the products a farmer can produce, value ad, and sell, that does not require any off the farm investment. There are no extra cutting and wrapping, transporting, or processing costs. But there are hidden costs on top of the large cost of feed and stock. The largest one of them is the cost of egg cartons, they are approaching a price of a dollar each. Then there is insurance, having a chicken coop for the hens, access to warm water for washing eggs and transport to market. We have heard a lot in the news about the cost of feed increasing tremendously in the last months and this is true whether you buy the feed by the bag, or have it delivered by a feed truck. Organic feed has increased even more at the same time. On top of this, there are always predators out there to keep them on their toes. Bobcats can visit and wipe out your whole flock in a night, cougars and bears can do damage to many birds in short order. Skunks and birds of pray are not shy about visiting your chicken coop. To add even more concern to this long list, the current avian flu threats mean that even smaller producers must comply with the commercial regulations, there is much more work involved in keeping the chickens safe and the farm unaffected by the virus, such as stricter bio-safety measures that regulates who can come to the farm and limiting foot traffic to the barns. This, in combination with the worry that you are one infection away from losing your entire flock, increases the stress level and worry for farmers immensely. The cost of a laying bird can be as high as 25.00 dollars each, it does not take long to be an expensive loss. The Grand Forks Farmers Market Egg producers always need your support. If you look at our local food outlets and compare prices you will notice our local free-range eggs are still priced less at the market and they are as fresh as you can get them. If you drive around the community or talk to our farmers, you can be sure that these hens that are producing your eggs are taken care of in the best way possible. And they always need clean egg cartons of if they can just get their cartons back from you it can help increase our producers bottom line and keep them farming.

The GFFM is open now until October, please come down to Gyro Park Tuesdays and Fridays 8am to 1 pm rain or shine, to support all your local producers.

Grand Forks Farmers Market (GFFM)