This is the first of a two-part series by KLST’s Daija Barrett about the impact of inflation on agriculture in the Concho Valley. Read the second part here.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — For the past 15 years, Tate and Trevor Schwartz have been building their company Schwartz Boys produce and meats. The brothers are 4th generation farmers in San Angelo, known for their watermelons, cantaloupes and tomatoes, along with an assortment of vegetables — according to them, inflation is growing faster than the vines on their melons.

“It’s really put a hamper on our business from seed cost, to fertilizer, to labor, diesel, everything is just climbing at an exponential rate,” said Trevor, “Consumers are feeling it on their end but we have to pass it on or we won’t be able to stay in business because of the cost on our end.”

The owners of Schwartz Boys Produce Company say the cost of their produce across the table has gone up at least $2 because of inflation.

“Fertilizer has gone through the roof since 2019,” said Tate, “I believe it’s gone up tenfold. Just crazy, crazy prices. I use to pay $25 a bag. I’m playing like $40 a bag now. Any type of chemicals that we’re going to use on any crop, whether it be my produce or out in Wall, where the cotton farmers are and corn, it’s gone up, 3, 4, 10 fold in the last year or so.”

Together they manage about 100 acres, where everything is harvested by hand with the help of about 15 employees.

“There’s going to be a lot of farmers that go out of business because of the input cost are just getting so crazy that they can’t afford to operate,” said Trevor.

The Schwartz brothers say the price of diesel, which has reached a record high this year is what’s hurting farmers the most.

“Right now it’s hurting our operation a lot,” said Trevor, “we’re probably spending 15, 16 hundred dollars a week on diesel.”

Standing on about 20 acres of melons in the hot Texas heat Trevor says the future for some farmers isn’t looking too bright.

“Just inflation alone is killing them right now,” said Tate “I know if fertilizer and wages don’t come down soon there’s a lot of them, it’s really rough on them right now.”