LITTLE COMPTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The price of fertilizer has skyrocketed over the past year, making it difficult for farmers both locally and nationally to keep their prices down.
Tyler Young of Young Family Farms in Little Compton tells 12 News fertilizer prices have nearly doubled.
“In a normal year, usually about a ton of fertilizer costs us about $400 to $500,”he said. “Some of those have gone up to $1,000.”
Young said these have been the highest fertilizer prices he’s seen since opening his farm in 1997.
And he’s not alone.
“Some growers I have talked to aren’t even going to put fertilizer on the crops they have,” he said.
The R.I. Department of Environmental Management tells 12 News local farmers are paying 25% to 55% more for fertilizer.
Nationally, data collected by the American Farm Bureau Federation and U.S Department of Agriculture suggests farmers’ fertilizer bills will jump 12% this year.
The high prices, according to DEM Division of Agriculture chief Ken Ayars, is directly linked to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
“There is a global shortage of fertilizer, as well as grains, in large parts because of the war in Ukraine and the sanctions on Russia and Belarus,” Ayars explained.
Those three countries, according to Ayars, control a significant amount of the world’s fertilizers.
In order for farmers to recoup their losses, Young predicts food prices will have to increase.
“Close to 20% to 30% is what I’m hearing at the retail level,” Young said.
For example, Young said instead of paying $7 or $8 for a dozen ears of corn, it could instead cost $12.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that food prices shot up by nearly 9% in March nationwide, which is the largest annual increase since May 1981.
To combat this, Young is working alongside Sens. Lou DiPalma and Susan Sosnowski to ensure Rhode Islanders will still be able to put food on their tables.
“We are looking at putting in some kind of emergency food situation in place to help those people who are going to be in that kind of predicament,” Young said.
DiPalma said the state is beginning to draft a food emergency plan.
“We may not see it today, but we are going to see it in a number of months when crops and harvests are happening and the food’s not there and the costs are going to be higher,” DiPalma said.
DiPlama said Gov. Dan McKee is on board and they’re planning on scheduling a meeting to hash out the details.