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Commentary: John R. Block Reports from Washington

“Food Production”

Hello, everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

President Biden announced his proposed $5.8 trillion budget for the 2023 fiscal year. Now Congress will begin work to change, add and subtract that budget. As always it is a long and difficult road to get it passed. The President wants to increase the Department of Agriculture spending by 9%. That would give us $2.6 billion more than budgeted for this year. His priority is to fill staffing shortages, fund nutrition programs, and climate issues.

Speaking of conservation, The American Farm Bureau and other ag organizations are urging Congress to allow farmers that have acres in the Conservation Reserve Program to plant crops on that land. The European Union has already opened the door for their farmers to crop their conservation land. With the war in Ukraine, no one knows how much corn or wheat they will have to harvest. Also, with the sanctions placed on Russia, they probably will not be able to export as much grain as they usually do. I didn’t know this, but Russia is the world’s largest manufacturer of fertilizer. China is number two. Since the war started Russia’s fertilizer exports have fallen sharply. Fertilizer prices have gone up 3 or 4 times higher than they were. There is already talk in farm country about cutting back on how much fertilizer to use to save money. Less fertilizer could mean less grain. If we don’t produce enough food prices will skyrocket. They are already at a record-high level now. I don’t expect food prices to come down.

It’s not just the shocking increase in the cost of fertilizer. What about gas and oil for our tractors, trucks, and other machinery? I know there are some ignorant people that might say we don’t need artificial fertilizer – just go organic. We could do that, and then our yield would dive by 20-30%. With the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, and supply chain interruptions we are going to see a food crisis. There will be starvation in some poorer countries and acute malnutrition in others. I know our farmers and ranchers will do the best they can, but it won’t be easy.

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The views expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not necessarily those of nor the Southern Farm Network.