A Warning from a Farmer

I recently came across several articles, posts, videos by a variety of people warning about the ongoing difficulties growing and distributing food. As bad as food inflation is, experts are warning it will get worse.

Today’s food prices and availability reflect growing conditions from months past. Farmers on the ground looking at current growing conditions foresee what grocery store shelves might look like in a few months time.

If what they say is true – and it seems to be corroborated many times over, as you can see in the quotes below – there will be amplified food stress starting later this year. I assume that will manifest in both prices and physical supply.

I believe everyone should grow some of their own food. If you don’t know how, start now and learn. Encourage family to do the same. It should relieve some of the pressure if the situation gets really bad. However, food insecurity could have broader implications.

When gas prices become unaffordable people drive less (although gas demand is still fairly inelastic). When food prices rise people may switch from steak to ground beef to grains, but ultimately consumers will stop buying iPhones before they go hungry.

If the situation ends up as many farmers predict, the economy will undergo multiple shocks over the course of several months (war + energy + food).

I’d watch this situation closely from an investment perspective. Right now, higher prices are already bleeding the consumer. A food shock (on top of the food price inflation already experienced to date) could be the decapitating blow.

Below are several comments (taken from a variety of posts) from farmers on what they’re seeing right now:

1: I live on a farm in southern Maine. It’s a vegetable farm for the most part. The husband and wife farmers are very worried about their crops this year. The prices of seed has skyrocketed and they don’t think their even going to be able to turn a profit. You are absolutely right. It’s getting really bad and it’s going to get much worse. People need to start planting their own gardens and canning, dehydrating. Money won’t do you any good if there’s not any food to buy!!

2: I am a micro farmer, a farm of 5 acres or less. I quit raising animals because my land will not grow pasturage and feed got too expensive. I grow vegetables, herbs, berries and fruit for our local farmers market. So many people don’t understand the time it takes to grow food. I am frequently asked why I don’t have tomatoes in June. (substitute any vegetable here – the answer is the same). They don’t produce until late July, I explain. Well, the stores have tomatoes they say. Yes I they do I say. Those tomatoes come from Mexico and were picked green to survive being shipped to your store.

Most people don’t understand food shortages because they haven’t experienced them. They are about to get a hard lesson.

3: I live in a prairies farming community and last year many cattle farmers had no hay and there was none to be found to feed livestock. My farm vegetable garden is on a hay farm and the hay crop just didn’t grow last year due to excessive heat. Only able to get about 1/3 of the usual crop. The cattle farmer neighbours were having the same problem with their hay fields and several were desperate on what they were going to do with their cattle because they couldn’t feed them over winter. So many cattle went to slaughter early and were turned into hamburger. This spring so many fields were flooded where I live that it has been impossible to get on the fields to even plant this years crops. Some were lucky and able to get out and plant, but most were not. There are grain shortages coming – I have been stocking up on various kinds of wheat berries and other usable grains like barley. There have been meetings in our communities about what can be done, put in place to “build community” and the people who have attended are the ones already working their butts off. So many people are ignoring the signs. Yes, the cost of growing chickens and producing eggs is sky rocketing. The cost of feed is going up fast. Food banks are stretched to the limits – donations have dropped fast over the last few years. Our little community has been working hard to “grow community” from within – teaching people how to plant seeds and grow veg, teaching people how to preserve food stocks, encouraging gardeners to grow an extra row for community. It has been a very slow and agonizing process at times to get people on board. This spring I was negotiating with small farmers who had fallow land that was dry enough, to get permission for our group to plant corn and potatoes at no cost to them. A few were agreeable, some were not. I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to open their eyes and understand what is going on. All we can do is pray and prepare and hope we make it through to better times.

4: All of my family farms. My son farms several different farms & also has a cow dairy. He also works nights as a diesel mechanic to try to make ends meet. My daughter has a 500 head goat dairy & works nearly around the clock to make a go of it. My brother crop farms & struggled to get enough fertilizer & fuel to put in this years crops. I have a small farm & feed costs are horrible!! People can’t seem to understand why I can’t just “share” my eggs & the cheese I make from my goats milk!! It’s frustrating to put in so much money & effort & have people stand there with their hand out!!

5: I am a farmer and this year is also not going well, sadly. Many farmers this year had massive apiary die offs from the extremely harsh winter. It was hard to get fruit trees and fields pollinated. Some of them did not even make it into bloom this year. It’s been a cold and rainy spring and summer. I look out at my orchards and fields and though they show signs of life they are way behind where they should be. What if they are not ready for harvest in time? The growth and bloom delay affects the bees too. I don’t think I will be able to get very much to any honey this year. It really hurts to hear people complain because we are really trying. It just feels like everything is against you year after year. Many places are just ready to throw in the towel because the stress is overwhelming and constant.

6: As a farmer who grows hay, it’s sold before it’s cut to dairy farmers and horse owners. To get feed for chickens, you must grow that particular type of corn, then harvest, then dry, then crack and fill feed bags. Most of that was done large scale, but a wise poultry farmer would grow their own corn. Yes, the supply chain has taken a hit. Work may have to be done locally, and sometimes by hand and using pick-up trucks and trailers versus big trucks that use much diesel. Farming takes patience. It takes 250 days to grow a strawberry from seed, 110 days to grow a single pumpkin, and 70 days to grow corn. But I will say, anyone with a yard can garden, please research types like raised beds, green house, grow bags, even cardboard boxes. Then there is indoor gardening using grow lamps. Planting food that comes back every year like fruit trees, berry bushes, and veggies like asparagus. Please check your Grow Zone first, it will determine what you can grow or not. Side note; So, I went in my woods and collected wild raspberries and blackberries, then planted them in a small unused plot. Two years it took, but then have so many berries I can’t possibly use them all! Free! And very little maintenance.

7: As someone who works at a feed store and pays attention to this stuff, I try to tell people what I know. I’ve barely been able to convince my family that it’s going to get this bad. Most of them don’t disbelieve me, but their response is usually “people are going to get angry”. Me, I’ve been buying and planting fruit trees these past couple of years. One day, my brother in law asked me, “why are you doing this?” When I told him why he said, “That’s not going to happen, I bet my money on it.” I almost asked him “Are you willing to bet your family on it?” He has four children…Anyway, now he still won’t admit he was wrong but he’s starting to take steps to prepare.

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