Feeling the Cost?
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You have probably noticed the price of groceries increasing, and the current trend is expected to do nothing but rise in the coming months. The most commonly addressed issues, such as war and gas prices, are certainly contributing to the rise, but what if I told you that most farmers were predicting these inflated prices well before they were seen in grocery stores.
Looking back to October 2021, farmers were starting to wrap up a record crop and had already begun shopping for inputs for their 2022 crop. That year’s success was quickly met with the reality that many of the critical supplies they need for the next crop was either significantly more expensive or not available at all. For instance, nitrogen fertilizer is one of the most inflated agricultural inputs affecting farmers currently. Nitrogen fertilizer is needed on most crops, hayfields, and pastures at quantities anywhere around 50-200 pounds per acre, depending on what is being grown. China is a major source of U.S. fertilizer, so when they shut down exports of fertilizer in 2021, the prices skyrocketed overnight. The process of making nitrogen fertilizer uses a lot of energy and fuel, so any increase in natural gas affects nitrogen significantly. Struggling to find any other options, many farmers were left with fertilizer bills that were easily double what they were in the past, and for a crop they wouldn’t harvest for another year in some cases.
On a global scale, despite decent yields in the U.S. last year, many of the nations around the world are lacking the supply of grain they need to keep up with their current demand, causing the price of grain to increase. Lately, it seems like the list of global politics and supply chain issues that are plaguing the American farmer is too long to list. Over 1,300 farmers call Randolph County home and they provide over $2 million in direct-to-consumer sales each year. Buying directly from local farmers is a great way to put money back into our local economy and to support local agriculture. With so many factors working against them, farmers are continuing to take on the financial risk in order to make sure the U.S. continues to be self-sufficient for its food. Next time your grocery bill leaves you scratching your head, I think it’s important to remember that the financial burden is not only being taken on by us, the consumer in the grocery store, but also by the American farmer.