Yet another shortage in the USA? Farmer shares alarm about tomatoes, rising price of ketchup, salsa

California tomato farmer expresses worry about inflation, drought, high costs of just about everything

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Mitchell Yerxa, a farmer with River Vista Farms in Colusa, California, spoke to "Fox & Friends" on Friday morning about the challenges right now of producing enough tomatoes to meet consumers' needs.

"It’s going to be a tough year," he said.

Record-high inflation plus droughts are sending prices higher — and perhaps may lead to a nationwide shortage of tomatoes and tomato products as well. 

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"The number-one thing that we say is that water is the ‘it’ thing when it comes to growing tomatoes — and if you don’t have enough of it, you can't get the crop you need," he added, referencing the drought on the West Coast.

The state of California produces "96% of all tomatoes consumed in the U.S.," said one farmer on Friday morning. 

The state of California produces "96% of all tomatoes consumed in the U.S.," said one farmer on Friday morning.  (iStock)

"There's not enough water this year, that’s for sure."

Combine the lack of water with the high cost of fertilizer — and yes, it's a big concern.

"We are going through an inability to find or source or even have water available to grow those crops or to fill those acreages."

"California grows 96% of all tomatoes consumed in the U.S.," said Yerxa, "and a quarter of all tomatoes consumed in the world."

With all of the difficulties today in producing tomatoes in California, "it's going to make it very hard on … family farms to continue to keep pushing forward year after year," said one farmer.   

With all of the difficulties today in producing tomatoes in California, "it's going to make it very hard on … family farms to continue to keep pushing forward year after year," said one farmer.    (iStock)

He noted, "And there are only 232 family farms that grow tomatoes for that entire population."

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He also said, "If you double the cost of fertilizer, you increase the cost of all the chemicals [needed for production] by more than 30%, you increase the cost of our labor, you double down on overtime costs — every single one of those things — and then you take away water availability, it's going to make it very hard on those family farms to continue to keep pushing forward year after year."

Forecasts are that crop yields will not meet the consumer need for tomatoes.

Forecasts are that crop yields will not meet the consumer need for tomatoes. (iStock)

He added, "Through different regulations and different legislation, we are going through an inability to find or source or even have water available to grow those crops or to fill those acreages."

Forecasts are that crop yields will not meet the need today, co-host Steve Doocy noted.

Starting in about January of this year, Mitchell Yerxa noted, "Every single cost we saw across the board just started jumping tremendously."

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The best way to understand the problem is to present the numbers clearly, he suggested.

"The normal consumption in America of tomatoes is about 13 million tons," he said — but farmers this year are going to produce about 10 million tons, he said.

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To learn more about this topic and this farmer's situation, watch the video at the top of this article, or click here to access it.