America’s farmers are no strangers to tough times. Mother Nature has a mean streak and farm equipment always seems to break down at the wrong moment. However, this year producers are facing additional stresses.
This summer is overshadowed by skyrocketing input costs and growing inflation, unpredictable weather disasters, supply chain challenges that hinder products from making it to market or prevent farmers from receiving critical goods and parts, and proposed farm policies that threaten to upend multi-generational family farms. Our farmers need sound farm policies – now, more than ever.
Purdue University regularly measures farmer sentiment, and the most recent survey found that more than half of respondents “expect their farms to be worse off financially a year from now.” It’s the worst result for this question that the researchers have ever recorded.
The overall Ag Economy Barometer slid down to 97 points, as “[r]ising costs and uncertainty about the future continue to be a drag on farmer sentiment.”
Farmer leaders across the country are sounding the alarm.
Blake Hurst, a Missouri farmer and former president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post expressing his worry. “We face more uncertainty than I can remember, and I’ve been doing this since Jimmy Carter was president. Prices are high for what we grow and sell, but the cost for the supplies that go into it have doubled or tripled in the past year.”
The importance of this moment is underscored by the food insecurity gripping other nations. As we rely more and more on a shrinking number of farmers here in America, we cannot afford to not support our producers who continue to feed, clothe, and fuel our nation and the world.
Fourth-generation Arkansas farmer Jennifer James spoke about the challenges affecting America’s farmers, particularly rice producers, in her recent testimony to the Senate Committee on Agriculture. While rice producers have been particularly hard hit by rising inputs and stagnant prices, their hardship should serve as a warning for all of America.
“In the wake of the pandemic and now with global food shortages said to be imminent, Americans are realizing that food security as a natural security issue is not a clever slogan,” James wrote. “It is a reality.”