As anybody who has gone grocery shopping recently can tell you, you're spending more to get less.
Much of the problem has to do with inflation running rampant, and some of it is the result of supply-chain issues.
But in a Thursday New York Post opinion piece, Glenn H. Reynolds says there's a new problem on the horizon that's threatening to keep cupboards bare.
That problem is looming food and fertilizer shortages brought on by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and resulting Western sanctions.
Ukraine and Russia are both major wheat producers; however, war in the former is unlikely to ensure a good crop this year and sanctions in the latter will prevent exports to most of the world.
Additionally, Russia is also the world's largest manufacturer of fertilizer, followed by China. Neither nation is on particularly good terms with the United States or Western nations right now.
Without using fertilizer, farmland is not nearly as productive. In fact, according to Reynolds, corn and wheat yields in the U.S. would drop by more than 40% without fertilizer.
Already high, the Green Markets North American Fertilizer Index, climbed 16% last Friday and urea, a key ingredient in fertilizer, went up 22%. Another key ingredient, potash, of which Russia is the top producer, jumped 34% in Brazil, the world's leading fertilizer importer.
Standard 10-34-0 "starter fertilizer" is up 49% from last year and will likely go higher.
As prices increase, farmers will either have to cut back on fertilizer or significantly raise prices on their own products.
Record-breaking prices for gasoline and diesel fuel — essential for mechanized farming and transporting food to consumers — aren't helping either.
All of these cost increases, combined with decreases in production, and shortages caused by the situation in Ukraine, add up to steep increases in food prices.
In an effort to address anticipated food scarcity, some have called for more land cultivation.
In Scotland, farmers and planners have requested that the government allow farmland designated for "rewilding" be put back into food production.
Scotland's Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity Lorna Slater refused the request, citing climate change.
"We are still in a nature emergency that hasn't gone away … so it's a no," Slater told The Times.
Foreign Policy (FP) reports that a green experiment on the island nation of Sri Lanka offers a warning.
Abandoning artificial fertilizer there was a "brutal and swift" economic and humanitarian disaster.
"Against claims that organic methods can produce comparable yields to conventional farming, domestic rice production fell 20 percent in just the first six months," FP reported. "Sri Lanka, long self-sufficient in rice production, has been forced to import $450 million worth of rice even as domestic prices for this staple of the national diet surged by around 50 percent. The ban also devastated the nation's tea crop, its primary export and source of foreign exchange."
According to FP, the human costs of the fertilizer experiment have been "even greater."
"Prior to the pandemic's outbreak, the country had proudly achieved upper-middle-income status," FP continued. "Today, half a million people have sunk back into poverty."
Reynolds concludes by saying that "the world's policymakers need to take a less casual approach to the well-being of the world's population."
A professor of law at the University of Tennessee, Reynolds is also the founder of the InstaPundit.com blog.
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