A farm group leader is keeping a watchful eye on the 2023 growing season as input availability becomes a top-of-mind issue for producers across the country. 

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner says his members are being hit hard by the high input costs, especially in fertilizer, but that supply of fertilizer is not a concern this growing season.

“Everything that a producer is needing out there this spring, to put that crop in the ground, is available to them. They may not like the price, but it is available,” said Conner. 

Speaking on Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, Conner said NCFC is concerned about what the availability of fertilizer and inputs will look like next growing season

“That’s where we really are fearful at this point,” said Conner.

Conner says NCFC is working with USDA and Capitol Hill to explore alternatives and remove obstacles around supply availability next year. He added that his organization is appreciative of the announcements and efforts the Biden administration is taking to alleviate the concerns but doesn’t think it will make an impact for producers who are being hit hard with inflation.

Connor said NCFC appreciates “the speed at which the Department of Agriculture and others have brought these forward" but the reality is "they're probably not going to reverse this inflationary course.”

Conner noted that his members saw the effects of inflation last fall when fertilizer prices started to skyrocket. 

“Farmers were some of the first to see the fact that just putting your crop in the ground this year was going to have a huge inflationary component to it. Obviously, that's getting reflected now in food prices,” he said. 

Ricky Volpe, a food economist and professor at Cal Poly, said while the most recent Consumer Price Index is demonstrating some moderating inflation, the problem will likely be present for the rest of the year. 

“All the signs that I'm seeing are pointing to 2022 being a really hard year with inflation and food price inflation ending up being about double what it's been historically,” he said. Volpe doesn’t foresee inflation being “higher than 2.5-3%” for the calendar year 2023. 

Other speakers on the panel included David Gagner of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Allison Crittenden with the American Farm Bureau Federation. 

The full discussion, which also included topics like immigration legislation and climate spending from the Biden administration, can be viewed on Agri-Pulse.com.