BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – While the war in Ukraine is on the other side of the world, its effects are being felt in Southwest and Central Virginia.
“Just this morning alone, in the last two hours of trading, it’s changed my margin about $5,000,” said Bedford County farmer W.P. Johnson, who has been farming in Bedford County since he was a child.
He said that he never expected he would need backup plans for the crops he grows and that the market volatility could potentially have him operating in a deficit.
The war in Ukraine is causing extreme volatility in the market because Russia and Belarus are the main exporters of fertilizers. Without those imports, crops, such as the wheat that Johnson grows, cannot grow to their full potential.
Experts said the price of fertilizer has gone up 200% since last year.
“You can handle a small adjustment, but now you’re talking anywhere from 20 to 50 dollars to put that in my entire operation you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars,” explained Johnson.
Experts said if the war in Ukraine continues, in the long run, it could affect the consumer.
“All these high prices are eventually going to affect consumers, in essence, us paying more for the food that we purchase,” said Olga Massa, professor of agricultural and applied economics at Virginia Tech.
Commonwealth leaders are monitoring the crisis in Ukraine as well.
“We are in unprecedented times,” said Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Joe Guthrie.
He said that the higher corn prices to feed cattle may also lead to a price increase for the consumer.
“So for Southwest Virginia beef cattle farmers, there’s not any encouraging news here at all,” Guthrie said.