Rising prices and a shortage of fertilizers have increased costs for grain farmers and could lead some to switch from corn to less fertilizer-dependent crops next spring, agricultural bureau FranceAgriMer said on Wednesday.
Prices for natural gas, a key input for nitrogen-based fertilizers, have risen sharply around the world against a backdrop of post-pandemic demand increases, low inventories and tighter-than-usual gas supplies from Russia. .
That has skyrocketed fertilizer prices and also reduced supply, as some manufacturers struggle to cope with rising gas costs.
“The real concern is availability. We already have some supply problems today and whatever the price, there is no guarantee that we will have some in the spring,” said farmer Benoit Pietrement, who is also director of the grain committee of FranceAgriMer.
France is the largest producer and exporter of cereals in the European Union.
Rapeseed planting has ended in France and it would be too late for farmers to change their minds about winter grains like wheat, which is now being sown, but there could be a problem with the spring crops.
“Some farmers may decide to limit nitrogen-intensive crops, such as corn, and opt for less demanding crops such as spring barley or sunflower seeds,” Pietrement said.
Fertilizer prices have more than tripled over the past year, raising costs for farmers to between € 300 ($ 346) and € 350 per hectare of grain, compared to the € 150 per hectare currently spent.
“The impact on producers will be violent,” added Pietrement.