Vegetable Crop Outlook 2012 ctd.
Belle Glade, FL
Q1. In December we had three major freezes substantially earlier than normal that killed thousands of acres. After those freezes we had a bumper crop but about 25% of our sweet corn crop was left in the field due to market conditions. We had such high volumes in the month of April that we couldn’t sell in the Northern states because it was too cold.
Q2. The ongoing issues with unemployment and the economy are making things rough. People don’t seem to have the money to spend on fresh products, they are buying more cans and frozen produce. I think the market might become a bit stagnant in that regard. We are anticipating good volumes at the farm level barring some major weather disaster.
Q3. [The passage of E-Verify] would actually impact us in a tremendous way. We don’t currently have a good way to determine if people are legal. They say they are, but we can’t verify that. It could make labor shortages that are already tight tremendously more difficult. Hand-picked crops area wide, statewide, nationwide, and industry wide could go to waste due to a lack of a way to harvest them.
Q4. We continue to watch all of the different legislation that is pending regarding food safety, traceability etc., and the way that different government agencies are coming together to form one standard for food safety, it’s obviously more complicated than that term alone, but we anticipate changes in the way we do things in that regard. That would allow consumers to have quick access to what was applied and how it was handled etc. Consumers are guaranteed knowledge.
Q5. We are in the process of spending quite a bit of money [in the food safety arena] to control the things that we can control: packaging, quality, labeling, etc. We want to be doubly sure that we are giving the consumer everything that they’re paying for starting at the farm level. That requires additional capital over and above what we normally put in, but we have to pay it forward to make sure that we’re not caught in a bind.