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Fertilizer shortage could cause food shortages in Michigan

Farmers are using less fertilizer amid price surge
Fertilizer shortage could cause food shortages in Michigan
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 5:45 PM EDT
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CARMEL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WILX) - A fertilizer shortage is putting the food supply at risk.

Related: Mid-Michigan food banks impacted by supply shortages

Fertilizer prices have tripled from where they were in 2021 and it’s forcing Mid-Michigan farmers to change how they grow their crops.

“You’re cutting off one hand to save the other,” said Seth Cords.

Cords is the third generation to farm his family’s land in Carmel Township, southwest of Charlotte. This year, he’s making some changes to how he grows his 1,200 acres of corn.

“We’re trying to feed more and more people in the whole world. You’ve got to have more and more yield,” said Cords.

Farmers rely on fertilizer to get more food from their fields. Without it, there wouldn’t be as much food available at the store. But the cost of the fertilizers farmers across Mid-Michigan use has doubled, and in some cases tripled.

“They don’t get the chance to really say ‘well, fertilizer went up this much, so I need X amount for my crop.’ It’s more they have to watch what the markets are doing,” said Theresa Sisung, Michigan Farm Bureau Industry Relations Specialist.

Sisung said while prices are high, they can still be managed.

“I don’t think we’re in a dire situation where we’re going to farmers’ just not planting because of fertilizer,” said Sisung.

But fertilizer costs have farmers like Cords changing how they farm their fields this year.

“We’ve cut back on the amount of fertilizer we normally would use. To try and mitigate the cost of everything,” Cords.

In the meantime, Sisung said we can expect to see food prices continue to go up into next year.

“We may see some shifts in crops and we might see some reduced fertilizer usage which could cause a little lower production,” said Sisung.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said farmers exported $177 billion worth of food worldwide last year.

The weather could also cause issues with the food supply. The USDA said only 1% of Michigan’s corn has been planted.

Read more: Farmers ask Michigan lawmakers for help

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