A combination of factors tied to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the ongoing war with Russia and Ukraine are expected send the price of one essential food commodity soaring this fall, warns one Central New York farmer.
Ben Simons is a past President of Oneida County Farm Bureau, a current member, and a crop farmer himself, growing corn, soy bean, along with hay on his land in Remsen.
Simons tells WIBX 950 that farmers who grow wheats and grains, especially in upstate New York, tend to use ‘marginal land’ to do so, saving the more fertile ground for other crops. But, because pandemic related supply shortages have jacked up the cost of fertilizer, and herbicides and pesticides, many viewed the cost associated with growing grains as ‘high risk’ and are not growing it.
”For example, not long ago the prices for a gallon of pesticide for a farmer was $17. Today it’s $96,” Simons said, explaining that uncontrollable factors, like a drought, could destroy the whole crop.
“Taking a risk like that could but them out of business,” he said.
Additionally, the war between Russia and Ukraine has restricted the ability of both countries to provide grains to the world market. Ukraine is unable to export it’s grains because of the fight with Russia, while Russia is facing severe sanctions on its products.
Known as ‘the breadbasket’ in that part of the world, the two countries combine to account for about one-third of grains produced in the world in a normal year, meaning there will be an impact on products made by grains, especially bread, Simons said.
A report by Reuters highlighted the potential impact on the World Food Programme alone:
U.N. food chief David Beasley warned the U.N. Security Council in March that the World Food Programme bought 50% of its grain from Ukraine and the war was threatening WFP’s ability to feed some 125 million people globally.
”This coming fall, the tonnage of grains we’ve all enjoyed aren’t going to be there. I’m not saying there’s gonna be a shortage. But, there are 20 million tons of grains – wheats, corns and sunflower and other crops, in that part of the country that can’t be exported…” he said.
When asked if he expected prices for things like bread to go sky-high this fall, Simons replied: “It’s gonna happen. It’s definitely going to affect [US consumers].
The expected impact of those factors will become clearer sometime next month.
Each year farmers have to send a report to USDA outlining the crops they’re growing, and the acreage for each crop. That deadline came this week, he explained.
“Once they compile all the data at USDA, usually around mid-July, expect to prices to start increasing.”
However, while predicting you’ll pay more for the products made by grains, Simons said it shouldn’t cause alarm or send consumers to the store to hoard bread.
“Do I think we’re going to hungry in the country? No. But for instance at Thanksgiving, the variety and all the selection you normally see in the grocery store isn’t going to be there.”
Simons comments came during an appearance on the Keeler in the Morning Show in WIBX 950.
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