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Harsh winter could drive prices up at supermarket

Posted: 6:50 PM, Jan 25, 2017
Updated: 2017-01-26 16:59:25-05

Whether you raise cattle or produce onions in the Treasure Valley, the harsh winter is taking a toll. In the end, that could drive prices up for consumers at the grocery store.

In fact, the collapse of rooftops housing onions has already affected their prices. Expect to go without or to pay more since about 25 percent of the local area's total onion processing capacity has been wiped out.

Managers of grape vineyards in the valley have been keeping an eye on the temperature in particular. In general, most grape varieties are hardy. However, the plant's health can decline when it gets below zero, which is something that has happened at least twice at the Williamson Orchards and Vineyards in Caldwell.

"That [grape harvesting] is my livelihood, my income," says Patrick Williamson, the vineyards manager. "So, I have to watch it all the time."

Williamson's situation is different from other farmers who are worried about field erosion or just too soggy of conditions to dig in and kick off the planting season. The seed's germination process can also be affected by how moist the soil is.

But, there is wiggle room for the start and end of a harvest season. So, roofs collapsing is of major concern for many. Representatives of the Idaho Farm Bureau is getting their fair share of insurance claims.

"It's just one of those things about being a farmer or rancher. You don't have a lot of control over what happens," says John Thompson, director of public relations for the Idaho Farm Bureau. "They need to read their policies and make sure that they're covered."

Good news is that reservoirs and aquifers will likely be replenished so there will be plenty of water for the crops.

As for the fourth generation farmer in Caldwell, his next concern is powdery mildew.

"We're not totally sure how this year is going to turn out. And, hopefully, in the next couple of weeks here it will start to warm up and melt the snow so we can get in," Williamson concludes.