Farmers can’t afford to put diesel fuel in their tractors to plant their corn. They can’t get the fertilizers they need. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau legislative affairs specialist Kyle Kotzmoyer says, “We are teetering on the edge right now.” The Morning Call reports:
His appearance came in the third hearing on soaring inflation held by the House Republican Policy Committee.
The overall testimony suggested the dire farm situation will exacerbate the rate of already steep food price increases. The federal government reported last week that food prices in May were 10.1% higher than a year earlier, with the rate of increase gaining speed.
After the hearing — in a phone interview — Kotzmoyer made clear that food may not be as available because of the fuel price surge.
“One, if they can’t afford to put it in the ground,” he said of farming using diesel-thirsty machinery. “Or, two, if they can’t afford to take it out.”
Average diesel fuel prices Tuesday in Pennsylvania were $6.19 a gallon, about 75% higher than a year ago, according to AAA.
Kotzmoyer told lawmakers diesel is a “huge, huge expense” for farmers. One Cumberland County farmer, he said, works about 3,500 acres with several diesel-consuming tractors and burns though about 2,000 gallons of diesel per month.
Farm operations do not have to pay sales taxes on diesel fuel purchases, giving them a minor break, he said.
But they can also decide to stop farming certain crops that are not worth the expense — raising the threat of shortages.
Asked if food shortages were a possibility, Kotzmoyer said, “If the farmers cannot get crops out of the ground, then there is not food on the shelves.”
Kotzmoyer said he has already heard of farmers selling seed corn or beans back to dealers so they can plant hay, which has “more return on investment.”
‘People are suffering’
The hearing on inflation chaired by Republican Rep. Martin Causer of McKean County was the third in a series that started last week and will wrap up June 21. It was punctuated by the U.S. Labor Department’s Friday report that price inflation in May was running at 8.6%, the highest rate in more than 40 years.
One testifier in the early hearings told the committee consumers are spending an average of $3,000 more a year on food and gas, because of inflation.
Will the challenges facing farmers lead to food shortages? They might. One farmer who knows what he’s talking about, Alfie Oakes, is worried about what the higher costs of inputs may do to his operation in Florida. Watch his appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight here.
Read more about America’s great farmers here:
- FARM AMERICA: New York City’s Finest Cheesemongers
- The Next Generation of Farming in Vermont
- Farmers Fearful in Biden Economy
- Farmer Tells Steve Bannon Biden’s Inflation Is Ruining His Business
- Joel Salatin: Meet the Real Mr. America
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