by Tyne Morgan
The input price scenario for 2022 is growing more complicated and scary by the week. Farmers are already preparing for added costs to grow a crop next year, but even today’s prices may be an accurate snapshot for 2022 potential budgets. That’s because input prices continue to climb by the day.
From nitrogen to glyphosate, prices are posting 100% to 300% increases right now. Some farmers say they can’t even get retailers to price product until the inputs actually arrive at the retail facilities.
One retail location in Missouri told Farm Journal glyphosate prices are up 100% this year, going from $19 per gallon to $38 per gallon. And glufosinate is showing a 50% increase, now at $70 per gallon compared to $45 last year.
However, in northeast Iowa, glyphosate prices have shot up 294%. What cost the farmer $17 per gallon last year, is now showing a price tag of $50 per gallon.
In northwest Indiana, glyphosate prices have seen a 300% increase in some locations, now at $80 per gallon.
“I presume farmers are looking ahead and if they’re worried about higher prices, trying to lock in inputs now at prices they think are more reasonable,“ says Joseph Balagtas, associate professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. “And to the extent that we have high commodity prices forecast in the next year, trying to lock in those high commodity prices, the real pinch would be is if you’re locked into high prices, and something happens to the market, demand falls and we’re looking at low commodity prices next year with high input costs. I think trying to lock in your margins now would make a lot of sense.”
Fertilizer Prices Soar
Fertilizer prices are on a steep climb, as well. Stone X Group says the Midwest wholesale anhydrous ammonia prices have risen approximately $434 since Sept. 10. That marks a 65% increase in just over a month, or $72 a week.
One farmer told Farm Journal he priced anhydrous ammonia last week. For a fall application prices currently sit at $1,250 per ton. Just this past spring, prices were $580 for prepay or $650 to $675 per ton for in-season purchases. He was told by this spring, prices could reach $1,400 per ton.
Extreme weather, combined with an energy crunch in China and Europe, are creating rising fertilizer prices around the globe. Higher natural gas prices are adding to the situation, as the issues just keep piling up.
Bloomberg reported last week that Chinese fertilizer cargoes were loaded and ready to for export, but were being held up as local authorities make additional checks.
Push to Produce More in the U.S.?
The U.S. is one of the top fertilizer importers in the world. So, could this supply crisis cause the U.S. to build more domestic plants? Josh Linville of StoneX says the idea may be a stretch.
“When you look at it from a nitrogen sector, these world-scale plants cost billions to build and they take years to do so,” he says. “The last one that was built had a lot of issues coming online. So, even if we decided today, yes, I want to build something in the U.S. marketplace, you’re not going see it come online before 2025.”
Linville points out even if a company started the process today, the U.S. isn’t the least expensive place when it comes to energy costs. Instead, the cheapest energy providers are countries that lack stability.
“Cheap energy is found in places like Venezuela, Iran and Russia, countries you don’t exactly want to go sit billions of dollars in,” he adds. “That story has been told before and I don’t think anybody wants to repeat it.”
Fight to Find Fertilizer
As fertilizer prices near the 2008 highs, this rapid rise in input prices is being driven by a supply crunch, not demand like the U.S. saw in 2008.
Currently, rising input costs could eat into 2022 budgets, but acreage decisions may be based on what inputs are available, not necessarily price.
“Somewhat surprisingly, both corn and soybeans were profitable this year, but corn was actually more profitable than soybeans in 2021,” says Michael Langemeier, Purdue University ag economist and a co-author of the monthly Purdue CME Ag Economy Barometer. “Looking at 2022, it’s about even. There really is no advantage towards corn or soybeans, despite the fact that nitrogen prices have increased substantially.”