Rising Energy Costs Straining Farmers
According to a new report issued this week, growers from one side of the nation to the other are getting very concerned about rising costs of energy and fertilizer.
USDA's chief economist Keith Collins said rising energy and fertilizer costs could add $1 billion to U.S. crop production costs.
Anhydrous ammonia, a nitrogen fertilizer used on almost all corn fields, cost $375 a ton in April. That was up from $378 one year earlier and $250 in April 2002.
According to the USDA, the average cost of fuel paid by growers in April was $1.76 a gallon for gasoline, up 16 cents from the previous year and $1.31 for diesel, a seven-cent increase over 2003.
Higher fuel and fertilizer costs are a major factor contributing to fears of lower farm incomes next year. Food staples are already on the rise on grocer's shelves.
One fertilizer company, Itronics, has improved its photochemical recycling plant to process and store larger quanitites of photochemicals in order to meet growing demand. It is a beneficial use recycler. Its Gold-N-Gro line of fertilizers can be used in sprinkler lines without plugging them.
The company's food crop fertiliers are registered on a state-by-state basis.