Higher input costs are by far the No. 1 concern among farmers, but only a minority of them have altered their operations because of rising energy prices, according to a Purdue University poll of large-scale operators.
U.S. food prices will rise by at least 4.2 percent this year, propelled by high energy and commodity prices, said a University of Missouri think tank on Wednesday. The group’s director said the actual figure could be higher still.
The Agriculture Department will launch a $250-million-dollar grant program this summer to support "independent, innovative and sustainable" fertilizer production at home and to reduce reliance on imports. The USDA also said it would launch a public inquiry into concentration in the seed and agricultural input, fertilizer and retail markets.
From grow lights in greenhouses and massive diesel-powered farm tractors to the refrigerators in millions of American homes, the food system ranks as a major power user. "Up to a fifth of our nation’s total energy use goes into growing, transporting, processing and eventually preparing our food, but those energy inputs are often hidden," says the opening story of a series by Harvest Public Media and Inside Energy.
"Lower energy prices are expected to lead to lower total production expenses by the agricultural sector," say USDA economists, with savings of $5 billion, or 8 percent, this year and $5 billion in 2016, also an 8-percent savings.