The Stakes Have Never Been Higher as Soaring Inflation Threatens the Safety of Food Supplies in The United States

The Stakes Have Never Been Higher as Soaring Inflation Threatens the Safety of Food Supplies in The United States

OPINION CONTRIBUTORS JASON SCHATZKE AND LANCE NEUHAUS – 9/22/2018 9:00 AM NOTHING IN THIS CONTRIBUTION REPRESENTS THE OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE HILL BUT RATHER THE PERSONAL OPINIONS OF THE CONTRIBUTORS PROVIDING

Inflation and other risks to agriculture are putting our farms and food security in danger, despite recent headlines that may give the impression that inflation is under control. Strong federal farm policies are essential for farmers. Nowhere have the stakes been higher than right now.

The farm is stunning in the summer. We have planted our crops, and now is usually the time of year when we can relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor in providing the food that sustains the American people. However, we haven’t been able to get much shut-eye this summer.

While North Dakota is known for its wheat and corn, Texas is known for its sugarcane and sugarbeets. We are not naive to the difficulties of dealing with natural disasters or fluctuating agricultural prices. However, calamities this year seem to be occurring more frequently than usual.

The Stakes Have Never Been Higher as Soaring Inflation Threatens the Safety of Food Supplies in The United States

The process began with seeding. The unseasonably cold and wet spring in North Dakota caused us to be a month behind schedule in planting seeds. However, growing sugarbeets has become more difficult and expensive due to the loss of crop protection equipment, which has forced farmers to rely on less effective solutions more frequently to keep pest populations under check. Extra money was spent on hiring more people to plant the same area of land as before.

Some of our neighboring farmers have even given up on trying to plant a crop this year because of the severe drought conditions in Texas. Our farm had to spend an extra $700,00 on the water this year to irrigate our crops, which was not in the original budget.

The cost of fertilizer and fuel for our tractors and trucks, which are essential to the success of our crops, has just skyrocketed. There have been increases in certain of our expenses of more than 100%. The price of fuel in North Dakota is expected to increase by $280,000 by 2021, while the price of fertilizer is expected to increase by more than $500,000.

The Stakes Have Never Been Higher as Soaring Inflation Threatens the Safety of Food Supplies in The United States

Texas fertilizer prices have climbed from $201 per tonne in 2021 to over $700 per tonne this year. In order to meet our financial obligations, we have been forced to make cuts across the board.

Our sugarcane and sugarbeet harvests this fall will be delivered to our separate grower-owned sugar cooperatives, where the sugar will be processed. We might expect lower crop prices due to rising transportation and production costs at our cooperatives. This year, we’re all putting in extra hours to make sure we at least break even.

Just like every other American farmer, we’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done and ensure that everyone in the country has enough to eat. But as the number of farmers in the United States continues to decline, we must take seriously the issue of food security, especially as other countries face increasing food scarcity and hunger.

Stakes have never been higher: runaway inflation puts American food security at risk

Though the agricultural sector has taken some serious hits over the past several years, we have been able to weather the storm thanks to the predictability afforded by federal farm laws and a sugar policy that does not require any more funding from the public. There have been multiple generations of farmers on both of our farms, and we hope to continue that tradition in future years.

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Having a reliable food supply depends on the United States and Congress maintaining their current and future investments in agriculture. Sugarbeets, corn, soybeans, black beans, sunflowers, and wheat are all grown on Jason Schatzke’s North Dakota farm. Lance Neuhaus grows sugarcane, citrus, cotton, corn, onions, and vegetables and breeds cattle along the Rio Grande River in South Texas.

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