POLK CITY (FOX 13) - This is blueberry season - the time of year when the berries are big, delicious, and ready to be picked, but some farmers are leaving them on the bush.
Others are plowing them under.
It is an industry in trouble. The numbers are just not crunching for many farms.
As a result, farmers are afraid that their investment and their lifestyle is getting closer and closer to going down the drain.
Benjamin Futch is eternally grateful for anyone who comes to his farm to pick berries.
He says it’s getting harder and harder to make money picking and selling his berries to packing houses, who then sell to stores.
It wasn’t always this way.
About 10 years ago, when Futch’s family jumped into blueberries, there was money to be made.
“You could make a good income from something much smaller than this,” Benjamin Futch said. “Three or four acres could prove a decent income for a small family of four or even five.”
He says this year, blueberry farmers are struggling to just to break even. The problem, according to Futch is foreign imports.
A few years ago, Mexico began planting thousands and thousands of acres of berries.
They flooded the market with good quality berries selling for less one-third less than Florida-grown berries.
It compounded the ongoing problem: Berries from Chile, Peru, and elsewhere were pushing U.S. growers out.
Some farmers hope Washington steps in and imposes tariffs like the ones on steel and other products.
Futch and a lot of other blueberry farmers are saying: “Mr. President, add us to that list.”