Fed Hog Help? Local Aid Coming for Farmers

Thursday, June 2, 2022
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Hog manure is one of the potential solutions to the fertilizer.

CCN Senior ReporterThe Feds have recently announced help for farmers. They are working to give assistance to those needing fertilizer when prices are skyrocketing. They are also making recommendations on how to farm this year for best results and greatest profits. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be available to allow for increased fertilizer prices and, as they are advising, the opportunity to grow double crops this season to increase profits.  Rhonda Hergenrider, of Bridger, owns a farm and ranch and is the local Farm Bureau agent, responded about these various offers of aid and advice. Hergenrider’s farm raises sugar beets, malt barley, feed, cattle and some hogs. “I think anytime we can reduce our need to rely on foreign countries it’s a good thing. Currently, we do import a lot of fertilizer. I just read an article about this. Don’t have the numbers on top of my head…” she said. Progressive Farmer has the figures. “The U.S. imported just under $1.03 billion in phosphate fertilizers in 2019 from Morocco ($729.4 million) and Russia ($299.4 million). Import volume from Morocco was 2 million metric tons, up about 11 percent from 2018. Phosphorus imports from Russia were 729,288 metric tons, down about 16 percent from 2018 shipments.” Then, on April 1, Russia announced a ban on all fertilizer exports in an attempt to tackle inflation and increase control over their own domestic crops. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The Ministry of Industry and Trade recommended suspending the export of fertilizers until normal transportation services in and out of Russia are resumed, TASS reported Friday. Such a move would likely stoke prices hurting farmers worldwide. Fertilizers such as potash and nitrogen are largely moved through trains and ships. Those movements have been hit since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as foreign shippers have steered clear of the region. The price of fertilizers has already soared over the past year. The price for anhydrous ammonia, a key corn fertilizer, hit a record high last month of $1,492 per ton.”Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack had announced an initial $250 million for the fertilizer grant program to be paid out utilizing funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation during the 2022 Commodity Classic. But on Wednesday, May 11, President Joe Biden announced that he’s doubling USDA’s initial $250 million grant program to boost domestic fertilizer production to $500 million. Biden said, “On the plane out here, on Air Force One, I turned to Tom (Vilsack) and I said, ‘Tom, double that. Make it $500 million. It’s so desperately needed. We can’t take chances.” He called American farmers “the backbone of freedom.”The USDA will make a total of $500 million available through the grant program to support independent, innovative and sustainable American fertilizer production. Input is sought on how to structure the grant program to incentivize American production of fertilizer. The final grant program details will be released this summer as well of an award of initial grants by year's end.There are two fights ongoing: “At home, it’s inflation and rising prices”, said Biden. “Abroad, it’s helping Ukrainians defend their democracy and feeding those who are left hungry around the world because Russian atrocities exist.” Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of wheat but its ports are blockaded and African orders left unfilled. The second issue, double cropping, as recommended by the Administration may or may not apply to Carbon County. Biden announced that USDA will extend double-crop insurance coverage to nearly 700 additional counties, to encourage farmers to raise wheat without relying on them to substitute crops or cultivate more ground. Nearly 2,000 counties will have access to double-crop insurance.Hergenrider said, “As far as double cropping goes, sure it’s a tool but I don’t see it replacing the need for synthetic fertilizer. Our area has a shorter growing season, so by the time one crop is taken off there isn’t necessarily enough time for the next crop to grow.”Crop rotation is another method farmers use to reduce fertilizer needs. Crops like beans alfalfa (legumes) “fix” their own nitrogen. At this time, all options are on the table to save losses and crops.  

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