Fertilizer and fuel costs plague farmers ahead of season


LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – Farmers in the High Plains are used to dealing with unstable weather, but they face new challenges this season. Across the country, farmers are adjusting to higher operating costs for products like chemicals, herbicides and fertilizers. Kody Bessent, CEO of Plains Cotton Growers, says that in our region, fertilizer costs are almost double what they were a year ago.

Fertilizer costs are certainly at astronomical levels,” he said.

Bessent says they went from $50-60 an acre to $80-100 in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

“I don’t think fertilizer prices are going to come down for at least a year to 18 months,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said.

Miller says problems overseas are to blame, like Chinese exports. Bessent says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is impacting prices because “a lot” of fertilizer comes from Ukraine.

Bessent says most growers in our area have already canceled the pre-application of fertilizer. The recent spike in fuel prices is another challenge facing farmers.

“You’re sort of on a budget. You try to plan and stick to that budget throughout the year, but when you see these big increases, it’s really hard to stay on budget and be able to break even at the end of the year. day or trying to make some kind of profit at the end of the day,” Bessent said.

To contribute to that profit, Bessent says cotton futures are still high at $1.10 a pound. He says that’s relatively historic, compared to $0.50 to $0.60 a few years ago.

“Prices are attractive for most commodities, but input costs and the inflationary effects of, for example, fuel or fertilizer costs, which have increased by more than 300%, all of those things have to be taken into account. consideration when we put in place benchmark prices and when we put in place what I call, risk management tools for price and weather volatility,” said Lubbock Congressman Jodey Arrington.

Arrington says input costs need to be considered as lawmakers begin the process on next year’s farm bill.

Bessent says farmers are finalizing their plans before planting in just a few weeks. Some growers are considering planting fewer acres or considering more rotation to accommodate. He says that 70% of a farmer’s budget is spent before the seed goes into the ground.

“So a lot of that money comes from hoping and praying that they’ll have a good year, a good production year,” he said.

He says growers are always up for the challenge, no matter the risk.

“It’s a passion. It’s a way of life. Most of these people have been doing this for generations.

Cost aside, Bessent says farmers face the usual challenge of needing good rains to grow this crop.

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