Record-high fertilizer prices likely mean small crops for farmers across Mississippi in 2022

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The Mississippi State Extension Service recently released a study on how farmers across the Magnolia State must adjust to fertilizer prices going up to almost triple the cost.

“Mississippi is such an agricultural state,” says Jeff Hays, a long-time member of the farm supply business. “Anytime you see our production drop, it goes everywhere. From your production, your co-ops, your tractor dealers, to fuel suppliers. Everybody’s impacted.”

Which is what is happening as fertilizer prices approach record highs.

“Fertilizer is such a major input for their crops,” Hays says. “They can probably survive one season borrowing off the soil, but you can’t go two seasons.”

Due to the ongoing supply chain disruption, the price of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash, the main chemicals used in fertilizer, have been going up since the spring of 2021.

“Sometimes we’re seeing double, sometimes we’re seeing two-and-a-half times the price of a year ago,” Hays says.

Hays says that’s the case at Lowndes Farm Supply, where he has been the manager since 2010. He says a bag of fertilizer that would’ve sold for $11 in 2021 is now going for about $19.95 in 2022.

“The prices doubled, needless to say, our volume of sales in tonnage has dropped off in correspondence to those prices,” Hays says.

The MSU service report from January 11th says potash is close to an all-time high of $800 per ton. The study and Hays say the expected outcome will be farmers buying less fertilizer, which likely means a smaller harvest.

“[The farmer] is going to continue to plant, but probably not fertilize as much, which will result in those lower yields,” Hays explained.

Hays says he and his colleagues believe prices could return to normal sometime around June, while the MSU study says it could go until the winter.

Hays warns that the longer this situation lasts, the more farmers they could lose, which he says could eventually impact the entire country on a global scale.

“We’ve always been an agricultural country. Produce our own food, export food,” he says. “In the end, if we have more farmers getting out and retiring…we’ll see food prices rise here in the States and we’ll lose a lot of our power in the world.”

The MSU study says the last time fertilizer prices shot up was between 2007 and 2008. Hays says the current fertilizer price per ton has already exceeded those previous numbers.

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