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🍏 "The Cost of Growing Food"

Business Daily

Photo by James Baltz / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Sam Fenwick
Guests: Karl Milla | Soybean Farmer &
Laura Cross | Director | International Fertiliser Association
Category: 🍏 Food | Food Cost

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[0:11] SF: “Farmers around the world are facing an uncertain future. The cost of producing the food we eat is rising. […] Fertilizer prices have been increasing. And there are warnings of food shortages as farmers ration how much fertilizer they use.”

[1:55] SF: “Soybeans are rich in protein and used around the world in animal feed. It's surprising how much of the food we buy is dependent on soybeans grown in Brazil. 30% of a chicken's diet is soy, so egg production, as well as poultry farmers rely on […] large quantities of the bean. It's the same for pigs, cows and even fish are fed on soy products. Nearly half of the world's soybeans are grown in Brazil. To guarantee large crop yields, Brazilian farmers use huge volumes of chemical fertilizers, especially in the north of the country, where the soil is less fertile. They import 85% of the fertilizers they use. Their biggest import partner is Russia and when the war started in Ukraine supplies dried up.”

[2:56] KM: “In the fertilizer markets, everything stopped [after Russia’s invasion]. Every fertilizing company just stopped selling or making any kind of contracts. And it is still on hold, especially potassium, because Russia is a main supplier of this nutrient.”

[3:14] SF: “Since Russia invaded the Ukraine, the price of fertilizer in Brazil has been going up every week. It’s causing Brazilian farmers a lot of concern, not only because it's more expensive than it's been for a very long time, but also, there are logistical concerns about it getting into the country. Traditionally, they'd buy it now, so they have it in time for September, when they plant the next soybean crop.”

[8:54] LC: “In the last 12 months, we have seen record demand for fertilizers. And […] it was actually triggered by COVID-19. So at the start of the pandemic, one of the first things that governments tend to do in times of crisis like this is focus on their food security. So if there is any means within which they can make sure there's enough food to feed the population, they will put an emphasis and create policies to help that. So that was really the trigger that contributed to stronger fertilizer demand in order to grow more food. But then at the same time, bringing in some of the more recent supply disruptions that's compounded this strong demand that we've seen. So it's actually a combination of demand side factors and supply side factors.”

[9:54] LC: “China is one of the largest consumers of all three types of mineral fertilizers. It has also been a major exporter, especially of urea, which is one of the largest nitrogen products, and of ammoniated phosphates products. […] The way to think about China is whatever is leftover that isn't consumed in the domestic market is likely to end up being exported. And you may have seen some of these restrictions on export volumes over the last couple of months or so. That has been really driven by wanting to keep enough food within the Chinese market. […] We've seen this mirrored in other countries around the world, such as Turkey, Egypt. They have all put limits on how much fertilizer can be exported.”

[15:47] KM: “Most of the farmers will try to use less fertilizer. Most of the farmers have some fields that already are fertile, that we could maybe do one or two seasons with less or maybe even without fertilizer. […] The productivity might not be as high as it could be if we use more fertilizer, that's for sure. […] But farming was always a long term game. […] You always have to spare the good years so you can spend it in the bad years.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 17 min | 🗓️ 03/28/2022
✅ Time saved: 15 min