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Fertilizer cost and availability is worrying many Pennsylvania farmers

Susan Scott Peterson
90.5 WESA

Fertilizer is costing Pennsylvania’s farmers more. A lot more. And even if farmers can afford the price increases, it’s not always clear that they’ll get the fertilizer they need, when they need it.

Dennis Koehler runs Dale Koehler & Sons Farm in Bethlehem. One of the major crops they produce is corn for cattle feed.

Currently, the price of one fertilizer product he uses costs 70% more than it did last year, Koehler said, and there were times when he was paying even more than that.

The pandemic, war in Ukraine, rail workers strike in Canada, and higher gasoline costs are all contributing to the rise in fertilizer prices and its limited availability, Koehler explained.

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“A lot of farmers right now are just worried about whether we’re going to have the fertilizer available to us at the time when we truly need it,” said Koehler.

That’s why the supply chain issue is a worry for farmers too, according to Koehler.

“One thing about fertilizer application is it’s a very timely thing. Like, if you get it on the plant too late, you’re already past the window and it’s not going to help with yield,” said Koehler.

Koehler added that the products he’s buying now are for next year’s crop. So, consumers might not even see the full impact of these issues on their grocery bills until next year.

Read more from our partners, WLVR.