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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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