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Farms face long-term challenges as production costs continue to soar, says fifth-generation farmer

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Rising costs for fertilizers, fuel and equipment could cause lasting problems for the farming industry, fifth-generation farming facing soaring prices told Fox News.

“It’s going to be a very expensive year for farmers,” said Chris Pollack, co-owner of Pollack Vu-Dairy, “We’re going into the field with very expensive tools in our toolbox.”

“Fertilizer is now double what it was a year ago. Fuel is more than double what it was,” Pollack continued. “Some chemicals are dramatically increased up to three to four times.”

Fifth-generation dairy farmer Chris Pollack talks to Fox News about the struggles farmers face with high input costs (Matt Leach/Fox Digital)

IS A NATURAL GAS CRISIS APPROACHING?

The cost of fertilizer alone has increased by more than 300% in some areas, according to the American Farm Bureau.

Pollack’s dairy farm typically spends about $70,000 on fertilizer a year, the farmer told Fox News. But he said it would likely more than double to around $145,000 this year.

“If we don’t have a distribution network of adequate supply and affordable fertilizer, that really creates concerns about long-term yields,” said Corey Rosenbusch, who heads advocacy group The Fertilizer Institute.

The price hike is due to a number of factors, including increased demand, supply chain disruptions, rising energy costs, according to the American Farm Bureau. Even the war in Ukraine plays a role.

“Natural gas accounts for between 70 and 90 percent of the cost of producing nitrogen,” a necessary component for most fertilizers used by farmers, Rosenbusch said.

Russia, which faces tough sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine, was the largest exporter of natural gas in 2021, according to the Energy Information Administration. This country and Belarus together export about 20% of the world’s fertilizers.

Pollack pointed to a tractor and said it “will burn 800 to a thousand gallons of diesel this year alone.”

“We’re going to use it anyway, but that makes it all the more expensive to operate,” added the farmer, whose family has run Pollack Vu-Dairy since 1901.

Diesel costs averaged $5.065 a gallon late Thursday, up nearly $2 from a year ago, according to AAA.

Chris Pollack, co-owner of the Pollack-Vu Dairy Farm, told Fox News that fuel costs have more than doubled (Megan Myers/Fox Digital)

HIGHER PRICES FOR FERTILIZERS COULD MEANT SMALLER CROPS

Farmers “would like to see a little more support” from the federal government when it comes to energy policy, Pollack told Fox News. “We are all trying to be greener and to be more progressive in that sense” but “we still have to make sure the economy is rolling”.

The farm-wide price increases add up to “really big numbers,” spelling “really tough times ahead,” Pollack said.

Although Pollack’s farm primarily focuses on dairy products, it also produces a variety of crops to help businesses weather the ups and downs of the market. Pollack hopes they will continue the family business for years to come, but he knows rising costs and supply shortages are creating a difficult path for farmers.

Fox News tours the Pollack-Vu Dairy Farm in Ripon, WI.  (Matt Leach/Fox Digital)

Fox News tours the Pollack-Vu Dairy Farm in Ripon, WI. (Matt Leach/Fox Digital)

Farmers are concerned that high demand and shortages of equipment and materials will prevent them from getting needed equipment when they need it, Pollack said. If they cannot, or if the costs are too high, crop yields could be limited.

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“There’s nothing worse than having a crop in the field and not being able to harvest it when it’s needed,” Pollack said.

Rising costs are “going to be a long-term problem” for farmers, he told Fox News. “While some farms might do just fine, struggling farms will struggle even more.”

Pollack said if costs continue to rise and the materials needed don’t become more accessible, it will change “the way agriculture is run.”

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