Input costs weigh heavily on growers - The Packer

Input costs weigh heavily on growers

08/22/2011 04:20:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Input costs continue to weigh on grower-shippers of Treasure Valley onions.

Across the board, it costs growers more to raise and harvest onions in the Treasure Valley, said Grant Kitamura, president of Ontario, Ore.-based Murakami Produce Co.

One way to deal with it, Kitamura said, is to run as efficiently as possible — take transportation, for instance.

“We work closely with our customers to make sure we fill trucks to capacity,” he said.

Fertilizers, chemicals, fuel, cardboard, bags — you name it, it costs more, said Kay Riley, general manager of Nyssa, Ore.-based Snake River Produce Inc.

“Production costs have definitely gone up quite a little bit,” he said.

Employee costs

And it’s not just things that cost more, Riley said. People do, too.

“Oregon has the second highest minimum wage in the U.S.,” he said.

“We expect it to be a factor.”

As will the cost of insuring those people, and all the other company assets, Riley said.

“Insurance costs are outlandish,” he said. “It’s very frustrating to see.”

Deal’s dominance

High input costs, however, won’t affect Snake River’s distribution net, Riley said.

As the only grano onion game in town for much of the year, orders will get filled, no matter how far away the market is and how high inputs get.

Kitamura agreed.

“Eighty-five percent of winter onions are grown in the Northwest,” he said.

“They have to go across the nation.”

Go they will, even if, Kitamura said, markets are so depressed, freight costs more than the onions themselves.



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