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Lamont announces diesel fuel tax exemption for farmers and ag producers

Farmers have had to pay for the rising diesel fuel costs for their tractors and machinery to keep their businesses afloat.

NORTH STONINGTON, Conn. — As the price of diesel fuel skyrockets, it is not just truckers who are feeling the pinch. 

Farmers and vineyard owners are paying for the high costs, coupled with the impact of the pandemic and inflation. 

For more than 20 years, Scott Lavezzoli has been a manager at Scotts' Farm and Greenhouses in Deep River

He sells all sorts of fresh produce and vegetables such as watermelon, tomatoes, corn and of course, strawberries.

RELATED: Truckers, petroleum dealers brace for likely diesel tax hike

However, since inflation kicked in, Lavezzoli has had to up his prices. 

 "We’re at roughly I would say 8-percent trying to keep pace with the cost of living average or so," said Lavezzoli. 

He said not everyone has agreed with his price tags. 

 "90 plus percent of our customers understand and are really great people and there are a few that don’t understand they think strawberries should still cost a dollar," added Lavezzoli. 

The extra money from his pockets has been spent on heating the boilers for the greenhouses, tractors and trucks all while diesel fuel is on the rise. 

The current rate for the tax stands at 40.1 cents per gallon. 

RELATED: Rising diesel prices hurt Connecticut businesses

"Obviously we’re running a bunch of trucks and tractors and so we’re using a lot of that. We have four, we have five greenhouses and just to heat those in the spring was incredibly exorbitant," added Lavezzoli. 

Governor Ned Lamont announced his diesel fuel tax exemption at Friday's news conference at the Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington. It is aimed to help farmers and wine production manufacturers get relief from the rising costs to keep their businesses going. 

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"I think you all know that the inflation numbers today were really distressing. It’s not decelerating, it’s accelerating especially when it comes to food, especially when it comes to oil," said Gov. Lamont. 

The state's fixed price diesel tax was created more than a decade ago to provide predictability for businesses, but this year is up in the air considering the sharply rising prices. State law, however, requires the rate to be adjusted every year. 

RELATED: US inflation hit a new 40-year high last month of 8.6%

"It’s unsettled and the war in Ukraine coupled with domestic production challenges and COVID has created the perfect storm for these kinds of numbers," said Commissioner Mark Boughton of the Department of Revenue Services. 

This diesel tax exemption will go into effect on July 1. Connecticut's Department of Revenue Services has until June 15 to decide the new rate. 

Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at cchau@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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