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Farm News & Views - March 15, 2022

Spring is just around the corner. But with a time change and 20 some degree nights still prefer us in the morning. For the past couple of days the animals have wondered why I'm out to feed them before the sun is shining.

The Ukrainian conflict has driven countries around the world that normally export grain and other food products to begin holding back on shipping food to other countries. This has the G-7 ag ministers concern.

On Friday after wheat prices reached an all time high. US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and his counterparts from six other major economies warned that countries refusing to export food products would only cause further price spikes that could potentially threaten Food Security and Nutrition at a global scale, especially among the most vulnerable nations.

The G-7 ministers and the EU Ag Commissioner condemned Russia's attack on Ukraine and said they're greatly alarmed by the apparent targeting of critical agricultural infrastructure, including transportation and storage, which is having significant regional impacts. And joint statement that group wrote:

"We will not tolerate artificially inflated prices that could diminish the availability of food and agricultural products. We will also fight against any speculative behavior that endangers food security or access to food for vulnerable countries or populations. Therefore, we are closely monitoring markets affecting the food system, including futures markets, to ensure full transparency."

Generally, farmers are an innovative and self reliant folks. For example, someone sent me a video clip of a Ukrainian farmer towing a Russian troop carrier down the road and into a barn with a large John Deere tractor, which looked like many of the machines used here in the US. The accompanying information indicated that while the troops were gone, the farmer decided that he'd leave them a foot by stealing the ride. And report from Farm Progress publications totaled about Ukrainian farmers providing fuel for the military with their mobile fuel tanks they normally use for fueling tractors in their fields. They're also plowing fields to bog down tanks that attempt to cut across country for strategic advantage.

Fertilizer prices have been on the express elevator up for several months. So a recent imposition of tariffs on imported phosphate fertilizers by the US International Trade Commission at the behest of the Mosaic Company, producers and sellers of phosphate and potassium fertilizers didn't help the situation. Then the Russian Ukraine complex started and the elevator has gained speed over the past couple of weeks. But some help may be on the way. The USDA just announced that the agency is creating a new grant program with $250 million a commodity credit Corporation funds to support domestic fertilizer production. Then last week, the emergency relief from duties Act was introduced by Senator Roger Marsh Marshall and Representative Tracy man, the Act would pave the way to establish a waiver to hold off imposition of tariffs on imported fertilizer for a year. However, at the speed at which bureaucracies and Congress moves, farmers shouldn't begin to hold their breath for help to arrive. I've been reporting on the balls of grain commodity marks over the past couple of weeks and found that as of yesterday, corn closed at $7.28 a bushel that's off 32 cents from last week and wheat dropped just over $2 to close at $10.90. The good news for ranchers is that feeder cattle prices have recovered as well.

Indian political ethicist Mahatma Gandhi said Be the change you want to see in the world.

Bob has been an agricultural educator and farm and ranch management consultant for over 40 years in southwest Colorado. He writes about agricultural issues from his farm near Cortez, and has helped to produce farm reports on KSJD for more than a dozen years.