KIRKLAND, Ill. (NewsNation) — Higher costs for fertilizer and fuel amid rising inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are putting pressure on American farmers to feed the country on top of an already strained food supply chain.
Craig Robertson, Steve Dombrowski and Nick Vowles are all Illinois farmers who said it was the American dream when they got into farming or took over their family business. However, now it’s more of a burden.
“People see high food costs and high grocery prices, and everybody goes them farmers are getting rich, and that’s not necessarily the case,” said Robertson, who farms soy, wheat and corn.
He said he’s never seen it this bad before.
According to AAA, fuel costs are up more than $2/gallon compared to this time last year. In addition, fertilizer has been up 42% since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, which has forced U.S. farmers to cut costs anywhere they can.
“It’s going to be very hard for us to save fuel, such as maybe changing our farming techniques,” Dombrowski said.
According to Macro Trends, corn has been up 11% and wheat by 13% since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.
The demand for wheat is exponential amid reports of Russia bombing Ukrainian wheat fields. Russia, also a top supplier of wheat, is now off the table; American farmers are needed now more than ever.
“It’s going to be very hard for the American farmer in the United States to come up with that much more commodity to help out with the losses in Ukraine,” Dombrowski said.
Without action in the Russia-Ukraine war, the United Nations warns more than 40 million worldwide could hit extreme poverty, many of those Americans.
In addition, inflation is at an all-time high, sitting at 8% and climbing
“How far are people going to struggle to be able to afford groceries? It’s going to be very, very hard on us in the United States,” Dombrowski said.
Vowles said once the milk and butter of America, farming is now a dying business to make matters worse.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average age of a U.S. farmer is close to 60 years old. Vowles said that takes the fun out of farming.
“It’s turning more into a job, instead of something that we actually enjoyed doing, you spend 12-16 hours in a tractor, and now it’s about worrying about cutting corners and trying to save costs,” he said.
“This is supposed to be the land of the milk and honey, and it’s just not that way anymore,” Robertson said.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden will visit Iowa Tuesday, for the first time since taking office, to visit a farming community west of Des Moines to promote his economic plans to help rural communities.