NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Fertilizer prices were already on the rise before the war in Ukraine, but now they are skyrocketing and farmers in Middle Tennessee are feeling the pinch.
Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine are all major exporters of fertilizers and ingredients used for fertilizer production. Sanctions against Russia along with the fighting in Ukraine have greatly diminished the supply of fertilizer being imported to the US and other countries.
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George McDonald is the Owner/Operator of Catesa Farms in Riddleton, TN, and says he’s seen big increases in the cost of fertilizer. “Last year on urea, we were paying $450 per ton for fertilizer for urea. This year, that price is $990 per tone, over double the cost of what we’re paying last year.”
However, fertilizer isn’t something the farm can go without. “All crops basically require some type of fertilizer. The crops that we grow, we grow corn, soybeans, sweet strawberries, and watermelons, all those crops we use fertilizer on,” said McDonald.
The increase in the cost of oil is also putting a strain on farmers in Middle Tennessee. “What are you gonna do about the high price of diesel? We’re gonna buy it because we have to have it to operate our equipment,” McDonald said.
The growing energy crisis also means paying more to transport fertilizer to local farms. There are many factors at play, but at the end of the day, farmers are dealing with increased food production costs and some of that is already being translated into higher prices at the grocery store.
A global grain shortage is also looming due to the war. “When you have Ukrainian farmers who cannot put out a crop, it will definitely have an impact on everyone in the world. Ukraine is the number one grower of sunflowers in the world. They are like number two in exports of wheat, number three in exports of corn in the world. So they have a huge impact,” said McDonald.
With Europe’s breadbasket currently out of commission, many US farmers are working to pick up the slack.
McDonald tells News 2 that while there are many challenges, the main goal for him and other farmers is to keep producing enough food to keep the world fed, “There’s an old saying when there’s plenty of food, there’s lots of problems. But when there is no food, there’s only one problem.”