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Farmers looking ahead, hopeful that the market will recover from severe cuts in revenue

Posted at 5:30 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 19:30:12-05

BOX ELDER CO., Utah — Joel Ferry and his family have farmed in Box Elder County for 120 years.

If the Ferry's have another year similar to this one, he said he's not sure his family could continue farming there.

The fifth-generation farmer said it's hope and optimism that helps him get through the hard times.

"How have we survived? We’ve had to get smart with what we do," said Ferry.

Through the hazy air, you can make out Ferry's cows standing in their pasture.

“These calves are not ready for market for another year and a half," said Ferry. "Hoping the price is good then.”

Back in April, Fox 13 reported beef prices dropping 30 percent and lamb prices dropping 50 percent.

Read: State helping Utah farmers as meat market shuts down across the nation

Eight months later, Ferry said the prices are still not where they should be.

“In the beef industry, we’re still seeing 10 to 15 percent below what we should be seeing," said Ferry.

Ranchers selling after February could lose at least a hundred dollars per cow, which Ferry said adds up to thousands by the end of the year.

Revenue for many this year, said Ferry, is completely dependent on the federal government subsidies put out to control the market.

Nationwide for 2020, Ferry said the gross farm revenue was 40 percent subsidies.

"That’s a huge number," said Ferry. 'That’s not sustainable and we don’t want that.”

As for crops, for every dollar spent at the grocery store on goods, Ferry said 12 cents of that goes directly to the farmer.

The other 80 or so cents goes to anyone in-between.

"I think pricing is going to go back to normal within the next six months to a year," said Ferry.

Though the pandemic has caused a haze of depression to rest over the market, Ferry still believes the future of agriculture is bright and clear.

"It’s a vibrant industry that has so much potential," said Ferry.

The hope for Ferry and others is that having a vaccine distributed will boost consumer confidence, ultimately allowing his family to carry on the legacy farming their land.