Drought, supply chain shortages and rising costs of doing business made 2022 a difficult year for U.S. farmers, but 2023 could be even worse, fourth-generation dairy farmers say .
“I think we definitely have food security threats,” Stephanie Nash, a Tennessee farmer and agriculture advocate, told Fox News. bad”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices will outpace overall inflation in 2022, with November food prices up 10.6% compared to last year and overall inflation reaching 7.1%.
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Nash said many factors contributed to rising food prices, including shortages of fertilizer and fuel, extreme weather conditions and rising interest rates in an industry that relies on debt financing.
“2022 was a really tough year,” said the 29-year-old. “I think there will certainly be a lot of shortfalls next year. ”
“Supply chains will run out and there will be more food.” [prices] At the grocery store,” she added. “I don’t think it will go down any time soon.“
According to the USDA, most U.S. farmers take short-term, variable-rate loans each year to pay for everything from seeds and fertilizers to livestock and machinery. As a result, the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate was raised from a minimum of 0% to a maximum of 4.25%, increasing the cost of running a farm.
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“Family farmers and ranchers can’t pay their bills,” Nash said.
“The cost of food is rising and the overall output of our business is increasing,” she added. I have to.”
According to USDA data, total interest expense in the agriculture sector is expected to reach nearly $26.5 billion this year, nearly 32% higher than last year. According to 24 farmers and bankers interviewed by Reuters, rising costs of fertilizer, fuel and land are causing farmers to decide between cutting crops and cattle or struggling to pay off larger loans. There must be.
“We’re seeing more merchandise in grocery stores, and I don’t think a lot of people get it,” Nash said. We are reducing production more than ever before.”
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One of the worst droughts the country has experienced in decades is fueling food inflation. As of Tuesday, 53.2% of the 48 contiguous US states were in drought, according to the US Drought Monitor.
“I think weather, drought and water are big threats to America,” Nash told Fox News. “We didn’t really start a new program to help devastated farmers across America.”
“There are a lot of great programs out there trying to help farmers when they get sick or when family members die, but the government doesn’t really take advantage of the devastation,” she added.
Nearly three-quarters of farmers have lost crops because of drought, according to a 2021 United States Farm Bureau poll of U.S. food producers.
Similarly, two-thirds of ranchers and farmers have reported selling off their animals, and the average herd size is expected to decline by 36%, a poll showed. Herd declines were greatest in Texas (down 50%), New Mexico (down 43%) and Oregon (down 41%), demonstrating the widespread distribution of distress.
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“Look at Texas. How big they are in the beef industry,” Nash said. “It’s really sad that farmers have to aggressively sell off their cows.”
She said independent farmers need additional support to survive.
“To be successful and stay in the family farming and ranching community, we need to get paid more,” Nash told Fox News.
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