LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The people who help get groceries to your table are feeling the strain of inflation and drier weather.

Wilmer Stoneman, the vice president of Agriculture and Development Innovation at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, told 8News that inflation and higher temperatures with less rainfall are impacting farms across the state.

“Cattle producers in Virginia send a number of their young animals to Kansas and to the Midwest to be finished off so we’re connected to the drought out there,” he said.

He said farmers are struggling with the higher costs for fuel, fertilizer and manpower.

“Virginia farmers are dealing with a perfect storm, if you will. Input prices are squeezing our farmers economically by the day,” Stoneman added.

Bruce Johnson, who owns Dragonfly Farms in Louisa County, said he’s feeling the same strain from the higher prices. “The prices have gone up a lot,” he said. “One farmer told me yesterday that his nitrogen costs went up four times from what it was the previous year — from, I believe it was, $600 to $3200.”

Johnson maintains 440 acres of land and raises cattle, horses and lamb. He now spends $3,000 on hay, which normally costs $1,500. Johnson said he has resorted to “spending more time moving the cattle around the pasture to make the grass last longer and feed less hay.”

Dragonfly Farms are implementing regenerative grazing, an agricultural practice of building soil health by managing livestock in a way that supports human and ecosystem health, farm profitability and community- and food-system resilience, to help combat some of the higher costs.

Our Stormtracker 8News Team reported this past July was one of the driest July months on record, with 21 days reaching 90 degrees or higher. This July also saw only 1.48″ of rain.

According to 8News meteorologist Matt DiNardo, the heat is evaporating moisture out of crops and the ground faster than the rain can replace it. He added that this has led to problems for farmers and their crops, especially for those established along and west of Interstate 95.

Stoneman said farmers are in a ten-year cycle for livestock prices and that economists believe they’re in a phase where there are fewer animals out for production.

“This could last for a number of years. I saw data recently that we haven’t really seen the worst of it. The worst of it could be in 2025 or 2026,” he said. “Every little economic factor can throw prices off for livestock, but certainly drives food costs up.”

Stoneman added the biggest concern for farmers is realizing the prices may not go down soon.

“That’s what’s really worrying the entire industry, is when those market prices crash, but the input prices remain high,” he said.