(NewsNation) — Inflation is raising the stakes for farmers as production costs rise.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan lost 700 dairy operations in the last five years. Last year, Wisconsin lost 360 dairy farms, but farms are getting bigger and more commercialized.
According to the National Milk Producers Federation, more than 5% of dairy farms closed in 2021. This has been happening for a while — 20 years ago, there were 83,000 licensed dairy farms in the U.S. Today, there are fewer than 30,000.
Chris Pollack, owner of Pollack-Vu Dairy Farm and fifth-generation farmer, said the concern amongst farmers right now is, “what happens when all of a sudden, there’s enough product out there that our price is starting to decline again, but our inputs don’t decline with it.”
Pollack has 160 cows and more than 800 acres to farm in Ripon, Wisconsin. Whether buying feed for the cattle or other items they need, the rising costs have been a challenge in all facets of his dairy farm.
“On the crop side of things, it’s certainly a challenge because it’s harder to find such things like tires in a timely fashion, parts, buying equipment, fertilizer, and fuel are significantly higher,” Pollack explained.
Pollack also said the Russia-Ukraine War is impacting the potash supply, which is critical for farming. He said the U.S. doesn’t import potash from Russia; it’s more from Canada.
“The world market is looking for other sources of potash, so they don’t have to buy it from Russia. And that’s also putting some upward pressure on potash prices, which is our potassium source,” he said.
Pollack said farmers could potentially see a ripple effect from what’s currently happening in the next 5 to 20 years.
“If you look at history, you go back to say the early mid-70s, prices were good and everything was rolling along and you had high inflation and we’re seeing levels of inflation higher than that even now is kind of when’s the balloon gonna pop?” Pollack said. “When are we going to see interest rates start rising and put some of that pressure on, whether it’s consumers or farmers alike? To try and get this economy kind of back under control?
Pollack’s farm is environmentally savvy, and he’s tried to utilize different practices to help reduce soil erosion and nutrient restoration into their surface waters and try to be more carbon-friendly to remain conscious of that while juggling the increased cost.
“So by not working the soil before we plants and just planting into last year’s crop stubble, we can reduce our fuel usage, reduce the amount of time that we spend in the field, and hopefully, we can still yield and make good yields and be very profitable at the end,” he explained.
Watch the full interview in the player above.