MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The War in Ukraine is impacting consumers with rising gas and grocery prices, and local farmers are also struggling to keep up with the increased cost of chemicals and fertilizer.
Thousands of pounds of fertilizer loaded onto a truck at Nutrien Ag Solutions in Forrest City was on its way to a nearby farm. The key components for the granules come from a war torn part of the world.
Larry Wilson said the numbers do not lie and farmers are on the receiving end of a conflict more than 5,000 miles away.
“We get fertilizer from Russia as well as Ukraine,” he said. “This year, our fertilize blends that we use are costing the grower double an acre versus last year.”
Prices per ton for major ingredients like nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulphur have increased dramatically. The figures also look worse every time Wilson checks his books.
“Nitrogen, which is our biggest moving product, last year at this time we were selling for $505,” he said. “This year at this time, we’re selling it for $805 a ton.”
Farmers in East Arkansas are faced with tough decisions as they weigh the price of fertilizer against the number of acres they have to work.
Tim Fisher farms 4,000 acres in Cross County. On Tuesday, his crews were planting corn while Fisher tallies up the cost, which was expected to exceed $400,000.
“It’s not only just the fertilizer. Everything we’ve touched has went up this year,” Fisher said. “Seed, fertilize, chemical. Diesel fuel has went from $2.75 a gallon to $4.85 a gallon. We’ll average burning over 1,000 gallons a day.”
Fisher believe sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States for invading Ukraine are going to end up hurting the American people.
“That’s part of what’s caused the fertilize and chemicals and things to go up,” he said. Farmers are like anybody else. They’re patriotic, but we got to have fertilize. We got to have chemicals or people’s going to get hungry.”
Fisher is afraid to think of just how bad things could get as the high cost of farming trickles down to consumers in grocery stores, and he is emotional when he thinks about how another rise in prices for fertilizer and fuel could put an end to his Arkansas farm.
“This is our life. This is not only our livelihood, but this is our whole life,” Fisher said. “I been doing this since 1980. This dirt is everything I got. If I lose my dirt and all that. I’ve lost everything I’ve ever worked for.”
Wilson told WREG that his facility in Forrest City usually ships out 29,000-30,000 tons of fertilizer each year, but that number is expected to be far less this year because of high prices and limited supplies brought on by the Ukraine war.