The Fertilizer Crisis Impacting California Farmers

A fertilizer crisis is hitting American farmers and is likely going to disrupt the already tumultuous food supply and supply chain issue.

The main issue impacting farmers is the price of fertilizer, which is hampering their efforts to produce crops for consumers. The impact will likely be felt by Americans in grocery stores in the following year.

According to an Axios report from earlier this month, fertilizer prices are reaching threateningly high levels.

A report by the International Food Policy Research Institute from April showed that market prices for food and fertilizer have gone up over the past year and a half, spiking even more after Russia invaded Ukraine. The prices increased 125% from January of 2021 to January of this year,  and they hit their highest price in March, going up another 17% from January.

report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City showed that expenses on fertilizer went up 90% and diesel rose 60% from the year before in February.

The Daily Wire spoke with Bill Diedrich, the president of California Farm Water Coalition, who said that the mixture of the price of fertilizer, along with the issues surrounding water supply, reliability, and shipping “are making it extremely difficult for the small to medium sized grower[s]” who don’t have all of the staff that other large businesses have.

“So the small family guys like myself that farm in that 500 to 1,500 acre range, it’s going to be very difficult to get through it,” he said.

Diedrich says that the price of energy going up, as well as it being less available, will cause nitrogen fertilizer prices to rise, because energy is a “huge component of nitrogen fertilizer.”

According to Diedrich, many farmers in the state are just trying to stay in business, rather than be profitable, specifically if they depend on nut crops and other kinds of crops.

The primary nutrients needed in fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Phosphorus and potassium, which are mined, come from foreign areas. Diedrich noted that many of the mined products come from Russia, which the war in Ukraine has affected.

He said that there is not as much mining of these materials done in the United States, and growers have to find other fertilizer sources.

Diedrich pointed out how “the supply is being regulated by the price,” so as the price increases, growers have to cut back on how much they use. He said sometimes suppliers will let him know ahead of time if prices are going to go up, asking him if he wants to buy fertilizer before that happens.

“But the fact that we’re using less and it’s still scarce tells you that the supply is definitely down,” he said.

He added that he believes Americans will especially feel the impact of the crisis in grocery stores next year, because the non-fresh products grown this year end up in groceries the following year. He said the ingredients used in processed food items aren’t being grown as much and there will be a shortage of processed food. Pointing to the water crisis as well, he said in northern California, there are 300,000 acres of rice that are not being grown because of a lack of water.

Donald Sherman, a small farmer in the Central Valley, said people will either have to get used to smaller fresh food items, or they will have to accept higher costs.

Diedrich noted they had to make decisions based on their own crops as well, noting, “We had to use what little water we had on some of our permanent crops to try and maintain those for better times ahead.”

He said he is most concerned about his employees and the people who work for him.

Regarding what those in power can do to help, he said that California has not placed enough importance on investing in water.

“The truth is that we have a mediterranean climate, obviously, and we have deep rich soils and the resource we need is water,” he said. He said they don’t feel as if the state “has placed enough emphasis on…

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