Believe it or not, there is not enough fertilizer in the world.
The lack of fertilizer is not for cattle, and this is part of the problem that farmers face. Unlike old plant foods derived from faeces, most modern fertilizers are based on nitrogen and ammonia produced from fossil fuels. Instead of mining in the Pacific islands, which are frequented by seabirds, fertilizer producers are producing nitrogen from natural gas, which is becoming increasingly expensive.
Last week, executives at Louisiana-based CF Industries Holdings, owner of the world’s largest nitrogen plant, told farmers that there would be less fertilizer, which could lower corn yields and raise food prices. Food inflation is already worrying, as the United Nations estimates, world prices have reached a ten-year high, Bloomberg reports.
Some fertilizer prices in the US more than doubled in 2021, according to Bloomberg Green Markets. Analysts expressed concern that farmers simply would not be able to buy at these prices.
What this will mean for Washington DC farms is unclear, but nothing good will come of it, said John Stullmiller, CEO of the Washington Farm Bureau. Farmers in the state used about 1.7 million tons of fertilizer between July 2019 and June 2020, according to the State Department of Agriculture. Of this total, nitrogen fertilizers accounted for 527,581 tons, which is the largest share. (Farmers also decomposed 825 tons of fish waste and 184 tons of dried blood.)
Inflation, supply chain problems and chronic labor shortages exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic mean farmers are already facing rising costs that they cannot compensate for in the market, Stulmiller said.
“Producers will grow,” Stullmiller said. “People are just making it work right now, feeding the world. That’s rough “.
In the current situation, however, farmers fear they will face “stagflation” reminiscent of the 1980s, when rising prices and stagnating crop prices destroyed the agricultural sector, he said.