As spring draws closer, area farmers are wondering how this year will go.
Farmers are dealing with input shortages and major input price increases. Commercial fertilizer prices have more than doubled from this time a year ago.
Well, what’s that mean, you ask? Last year at this time, farmers paid $153.54 for one acre of corn fertilizer. This year, that same acre will cost $364.93.
However, most of the farmers in Trousdale County raise cattle or livestock. How does it affect them? The fertilizer for one acre of hay costs $43.19 a year ago. That same acre will cost $112.58 this year.
Fertilizer is not the only thing that has gone up. Off-road fuel prices have also doubled in that time frame. Most farm tractors will consume 5-10 gallons per hour when conducting field work. So, that means it is costing a farmer $20 to $50 per hour to run equipment to produce or harvest the crop.
Other farm input costs have gone up due to supply issues. Many agricultural and farm chemicals have risen in price due to supply shortages, delivery issues, and even due to packaging issues. Many of these agricultural inputs are produced overseas, and production has been limited due to COVID-19. Many other products are facing shipping and transportation issues due to the backlog at the U.S. ports.
World political issues have also caused problems with the agricultural supply chain. Trade issues with Russia and China have caused problems with the imports of fertilizer. China shut down several fertilizer-production facilities due to hosting the Olympics, which will limit the supply for a short time. World demand for fertilizer has increased, and supply decreased. As this happens, prices are going to rise.
What does that mean for you and I as a consumer of agricultural products, mainly food? You can expect to pay more at the grocery store for food products. Meat prices, fresh fruit and vegetable prices will all go up. Although the prices you and I see will rise, the farmer in many cases will not see the increase in the price they receive.
What can farmers do in this time of high input prices? First and foremost is to soil test so that they only apply the nutrients the soil needs to produce the crop or forage. Second is to be flexible and shop around to find the best prices or alternatives to the crop input systems they have used in the past. Be able to adjust your crop protection and weed-control plans. Livestock producers should evaluate their marketing strategies to be sure they are maximizing their management and receiving the best price.
This year is going to be difficult for everyone in the agriculture industry. Farmers, producers, farm-supply stores and consumers are going to struggle through this year. During past years, I have worked and consulted with area farmers who are some of the most resilient and creative people in the world, and I am confident they will persevere through these difficult times.
If you have questions about soil testing and/or want to explore ideas on how to deal with high input prices, reach out to the Trousdale County University of Tennessee Extension by calling 615-374-2421. We can help go over some things that may help you throughout the year.
Remember that the University of Tennessee Extension offers its programs to all eligible persons, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.