Farmers have faced challenge after challenge for decades, taking most of them in their stride. However, when you’re not in the agricultural industry, it’s impossible to understand just how tough it can be for them and the daily issues they face to supply the average consumer with their goods.
With 2022 coming to an end, it’s worth looking back to see what storms the average farmer has weathered. Hopefully, this will give us a deeper appreciation for everything our farmers have managed to accomplish.
Labor shortages can affect every part of a farmer’s daily business. For example, they might have all the Pellenc grape harvester parts they need to perform maintenance, but a labor shortage might mean they don’t have the time or human resources to achieve that maintenance when it’s needed the most.
The agricultural workforce is shrinking, and many factors are contributing to this crisis. For example, there has been a declining trend in agricultural interest due to work-life balance, physical demands, high land prices, and volatile commodity pricing.
Immigration policies have also limited the number of workers available, as has the Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes it harder to bring in foreign laborers for temporary work.
American food producers put the same effort into producing vegetables, fruit, nuts, and other food each year. However, equal effort doesn’t always lead to equal yields when drought conditions take hold.
Farmers from California to the Mississippi River’s eastern side have been facing unthinkable drought conditions. Many orchard farmers have had to kill trees that were dying due to a lack of water. As a result, the same amount of money goes into producing crops, but many farmers see a mere fraction of that returned through produce sales.
Some farmers live for the land and spend their entire lives looking after it to benefit consumers worldwide. However, a significant disconnect in North America has placed people further away from their food sources.
Most Americans live in urban areas so far away from food-producing land that their children believe food comes from the grocery store. As these urban areas grow, farmers are coming under tremendous pressure from developers to sell their land, further exacerbating the divide between urban dwellers and farmers.
The average person believes that if you plant something in the ground, it will grow. However, it’s much more complicated than that. Current land management techniques have resulted in nutrient depletion, and farmers must use fertilizers and crop rotation techniques to replenish their soil and create optimal growing conditions.
Livestock management can also contribute to farmland degradation, with overgrazing leading to weedy shrub growth, dry soil, and reduced hardy grass growth. If farmers want to ensure their yields remain high, they must devote time, energy, and resources to soil health, which can be hard to do when they have already put so much effort into other farming practices.
Increased Fuel Prices
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, import natural gas prices jumped 165.5 percent over the last two years. In 2017, tractors already cost upwards of $100 per hour to operate, but the increased fuel prices between 2021 and 2022 meant farmers were spending up to $1,000 to fill their tractor’s fuel tank daily.
Farmers play an integral role in our survival, but they face unbelievable daily challenges, from labor shortages to land degradation, increased fuel prices, and everything in between. So, the next time you enjoy a delicious meal with your family, spare a thought for the people who made it possible.