Last month I published an article titled “Remember those warnings about the food supply?” In it, I noted:
The fertilizer market is currently incapable of supplying enough product to meet demand – and that may affect next season’s harvest quite appreciably, not just in the USA, but worldwide.
Now the Wall Street Journal warns that “Surging Fertilizer Costs Push Farmers to Shift Planting Plans, Raise Prices“.
Escalating costs are leading some farmers to shift acres toward less fertilizer-intensive crops, like soybeans, while others said they plan to cut back on their overall fertilizer use, potentially reducing future harvests.
Lower grain production could translate to higher prices for farm commodities like corn, analysts and farmers said. They added that higher costs for such commodities would further inflate prices of pantry staples like cereal and cooking oil, as well as beef and other meat, because producers rely heavily on grain to feed livestock and poultry … Fertilizer is typically among farmers’ biggest expenses each year, and higher prices threaten what has been a banner year for many growers.
. . .
The rise in fertilizer costs is partly fueled by elevated natural gas prices, a key ingredient for nitrogen-based fertilizers, as well as by severe storms in the U.S. that disrupted fertilizer plants earlier this year and a move by China this summer to ban exports of phosphate, a major fertilizer component. Some farmers also blame fertilizer companies for the rising prices.
. . .
The potential for higher fertilizer costs to cut into production of corn and other crops could fuel continued food-price inflation. Food costs have already climbed this year as companies have passed along higher labor, transport and packaging costs.
There’s more at the link.
We’re already seeing the effects of the “food crunch”. Fellow blogger Sgt. Mom at Chicago Boyz notes:
Considering how the price of groceries and everything else is inflating, and how supply-chain issues are leaving unexplained and erratic gaps on store shelves, this indeed might be the last year that we can do the fudge assortments [as Christmas presents]. Butter, cream, chocolate, sugar – all those good things will certainly be more expensive next year. The prices for meat, especially for beef and bacon have all but doubled in the last few months alone. Looking ahead and considering the credible news sources available to me, makes me wonder if grocery store shelves might eventually look like those in Venezuela – bare of anything at all, or like those in Soviet Russia, years ago?
Food austerity looms on the horizon like an oncoming storm-cloud. In the near future, we may not be able to afford certain items, or they aren’t available at any price. We had a taste of what serious shortages might look like, last year during the first weeks of the Covid panic, when shelves of canned goods were practically stripped bare, as was the bakery and fresh meat section, while shoppers waiting impatiently for milk and eggs to be restocked. We worry, and not without reason, about what will happen in the coming year. I can’t see how things can improve, economically and politically, although living in Texas may shelter us from the very worst that can happen.
It has been very nice, living in a world where ordinary, working-class people like my daughter and I can afford to give away a nice edible gift of home-made treats, much less be able to eat protein like eggs and meat for supper five nights out of seven. I wonder if we are living in the last days of the golden era that was an era of plenty; plenty of food, cheap gas, inexpensive luxuries. What a piece of work are our ruling class, that they would cheerfully consign regular citizens to a bleak, cold and deprived future.
Again, more at the link.
I’d say her apprehension is fully justified. It’s why I’ve increased our own emergency supplies and reserves of food, even taking on additional credit card debt in order to ensure that we’ve got at least some additional food security. That’s also why more and more consumers, those who can see what’s coming and the early effects already visible all around us, are changing their shopping habits right now. They’re buying as much food and other everyday needs as possible, so as to ensure that in future, in a high-inflation environment where everything costs more as time passes, they’ll have at least some of them on hand rather than being forced to buy what they may no longer be able to afford.
I respectfully suggest that we should plan our budgets – and our pantries – so as to have at least thirty days of food on hand at all times. That needn’t include luxuries, but it should include a nutritionally adequate, balanced diet for every member of the household for at least that long. If our budgets can stretch to a three-month balanced food supply, so much the better. As for the longer term, very few of us can afford (or have the space to store) a full pantry sufficient for a more extended period; but we can often find or make space for basic foodstuffs like dried beans, rice, etc. They may not be very appetizing, but they’ll last a long time, and beans and rice together make a complete protein that’s adequately nutritious. The way things are going, supplies like that might just come in handy . . .