Record-setting prices on diesel fuel, coupled with soaring inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine, could lead to food shortages in the US, farmers warned.
“For so long, we’ve enjoyed lots of food in this country, so we’ve never ever faced a food shortage and I think that’s coming in the coming months,” John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, said during an interview on NewsNation’s On Balance with Leland Vittert on Monday,
Average diesel prices in the US Monday reached $5.7 per gallon, representing a $2.4 increase compared to the same period last year.
Farmers disproportionately rely on diesel to fuel up their tractors and other heavy machinery used to plant and harvest crops, burning up to thousands of gallons a month, depending on the size of their operation.
Feeling the pinch at the pump, farmers can decide to stop planting certain crops to save money on fuel, which, in turn, could result in higher food prices and even food shortages.
During this week’s hearing on inflation held by the Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee, Kyle Kotzmoyer, a legislative affairs specialist for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, offered a bleak outlook, describing the current situation on local farms as “teetering on the edge,” reported The Morning Call.
“If the farmers cannot get crops out of the ground, then there is not food on the shelves,” the Farm Bureau aide explained.
In Pennsylvania, average diesel prices Tuesday were $6.19 per gallon, up 75% compared to last year, AAA reported.
Kotzmoyer said he has already heard of farmers opting to plant hay instead of corn or beans, because it is more economical.
Boyd, the head of the National Black Farmers Association, explained on NewsNation that food staples like corn, corn syrup and soybeans, which farmers produce daily, help put other products on grocery store shelves, including dairy, eggs and meat.
If farmers cannot afford to fuel up their tractors to harvest their crops, which are vital to food production, shortages are set to follow.
The Labor Department announced last week that grocery store prices had spiked 11.9% in May over the last year amid soaring inflation, which reached a 40-year record of 8.6% in May.
The Biden Administration has blamed the unfolding crisis on Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has caused oil and gasoline prices to skyrocket — as well as on Congressional Republicans’ opposition to the president’s doomed Build Back Better plan, which would have injected the largest public investments in social, infrastructural, and environmental programs since the New Deal.