Manure in short supply as Kentuckiana farmers battle rising fertilizer and fuel costs | Business

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Farmers across the country are finding manure a hot commodity due to rising fertilizer prices, but other prices are also rising.

A global shortage of commercial fertilizers means cattle and dairy farmers can benefit from what their pigs and cows leave behind.

Young and Robards Farm in Louisville recycles their own manure, which helps them offset some of the costs, but their concern goes beyond what comes out of the background. This is also what cows eat.

“We must have [fertilizer] to make the crops work, because too many nutrients are going out not to put them back,” explained Erica Robards.

Sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine mean farmers pay high prices on everything from fuel to livestock feed.

The cost of getting cattle from the Young and Robards farm to a processor and back to the farm before they are sold to its market has doubled since this time last year.

“I look at the checkbook and it’s just, ugh, can we handle this?” said Robard. “You know, at what point is it a breaking point that people can’t afford to buy food anymore?”

It costs them more than money. They also have to make tough business decisions.

“You have this personal relationship with people and you have to raise prices,” Robards explained. “You feel bad. I feel guilty for raising prices, but at the same time, we can’t help it.”

Floyd Farm and Feed in Georgetown, Indiana, is busy making animal feed by mixing corn, oats, protein pellets and molasses, but the price of livestock feed will become higher. Crop prices remain high, meaning farm animal feed is more expensive.

The owner said he had a pre-negotiated price of $6 on a bushel of corn, which is now selling on the open market for $7.50. He knows he would have to charge more if he hadn’t locked in that lower price months ago.

“Over the past two years, I mean, that’s changed dramatically,” said Justin Juhasz, owner of Floyd Farm and Feed.

He said he never had to watch the prices, but now he watches them every day because of the fluctuations.

“I wish I could do something different, you know, to help them, you know, reduce their expenses, but it’s just hard right now,” Juhasz said. “You can not.”

Skyrocketing prices for industrial fertilizers mean farmers are cutting corn and wheat plantings this spring, according to U.S. government data. It could also threaten the global food supply.

Even so, farmers and feed suppliers are hoping costs will come down by the fall, but things fluctuate so much, they say, it’s hard to say.

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