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Summer drought and inflation causes higher costs for fall favorites

Higher operational costs for farmers are being paid for by consumers.

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — Fall officially begins on Sept. 22, which means the return to trips to the pumpkin patch and apple picking.

However, favorite fall products could take a bigger slice out of shoppers' wallets in part because drier conditions this summer forced farmers to adapt.

“One thing it did do is increase our cost of production," Flinchbaugh's Orchard and Market Owner Mike Flinchbaugh said. "We had to pay for the water the time it took to manage that irrigation.”

Flinchbaugh’s in York County is still feeling the effects of the weeks-long dry spell, though other areas like Lancaster County have been hit hard as well.

“This is affecting Lebanon County, this is affecting Dauphin County, even portions of Perry County as well," Center for Rural Pennsylvania  Spokesperson Kyle Kopko said.

Drought wasn't the only issue this summer for farmers across the commonwealth. Higher operating costs due to inflation have caused Flinchbaugh's to raise their prices inside the store.

"We have had price increases here in the market compared to last year,"  Flinchbaugh said. "We had to raise our cost of peaches, apples have gone up a little bit."

Inflation hit a 40-year high in 2022, driving up costs across the board.

“Fuel is generally up, we have a labor shortage, supply chain issues, and the drought is an issue in parts of the Commonwealth now," Kopko said. "So all this is driving up costs.”

All these contributing factors are now reflected in the prices of popular fall crops. According to the USDA, apples are up 5.7% from last year. Pumpkins are up 12.6%.

Flinchbaugh says higher prices are necessary and most customers are understanding.

“In order for us to stay in business and to make a little bit of money we have to charge you a little bit more," Flinchbaugh said.

To help fight the effects of climate change, Senator Bob Casey announced millions for Pennsylvania agricultural projects to combat climate change.

"We need to act now to mitigate the damage of the climate crisis, which is why the Biden Administration is investing millions of dollars to help farmers implement climate-smart production practices," Sen. Casey said in a statement to FOX43. "This investment will provide new revenue streams for farmers, support local economies and combat the climate crisis."

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