By Matt Hoffman
Last month, the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida celebrated the close of our 60th crop. Farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area, like those at the Cooperative, are enjoying somewhat of a renaissance in farming innovation. We’ve significantly lowered our usage of fuel, implemented new risk management tools, and recruited first-rate talent to further cultivate our revolutionary farming and processing methods.
Though we have made meaningful progress, this year’s harvest proved to be a particularly challenging one. Farmers in the EAA have endured one of the worst freezes in more than a decade, with widespread damage to our crops. Now with the crop season behind us, we look back at those losses coupled with the financial suffering due to the rising costs of inflation, especially the mounting prices of natural gas and diesel. Surging inflation also puts farmers at a substantial loss because most of our product is forward sold, and input costs come in real time. These hurdles are placing a serious strain on farmers not only in the EAA, but across the state and nation.
As a result, this poses a real danger to our nation’s food security – threatening a greater dependency on foreign sources of food. Overcoming these obstacles is what it takes to ensure our nation can enjoy a secure domestic food supply. Now more than ever, farmers need the support from our community and our elected leaders.
As we look toward the future, our promise to the community is that our 41 member-growers will remain steadfast in our commitment to being good stewards to the land and the community that gives us so much. Over the next 60 years, we will do our part to keep our nation fed, and we can achieve this as long as we continue to embrace innovation and sustainability, prioritize the need for a domestic food supply, and have the support and backing of our community for the critical work we do.
Matt Hoffman is the President and CEO of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida. The Cooperative is comprised of 41 mostly family-owned member-growers who farm and grow sugarcane on more than 70,000 acres primarily in Palm Beach County.