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Russia's invasion of Ukraine could put the squeeze on Ohio farmers

Kenneth Keifer
A cornfield is backed by red barns with several interesting silos in rural Ohio, USA.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine could add to the financial woes of Ohio farmers this year. In addition to having to deal with higher fuel costs, farm advocates say the conflict is affecting the availability of an essential resource.

Brandon Kern is the senior director of state and national policy at the Ohio Farm Bureau. He says Russia is a top manufacturer and exporter of nitrogen and phosphorus-based fertilizer that American farmers rely on. According to Kern, there’s not enough domestic production to cover demand and no easy way to increase that.

Brandon Kern
U.S. fertilizer producers don't have the capacity to make up for the loss of fertilizer from Russia.

“It is costly for them to just build plants here in the US, only supply for a couple of months out of the year and then ratchet those plants back. That’s not a very cost-efficient way, that’s why they have these production facilities strategically placed throughout the world.”

Kern says farmers will probably have to consider reducing the amount of crops they plant as well as using less fertilizer, but that could reduce crop yields.

In the long term, he says farmers need to embrace technology that can help them reduce the fertilizer they use by more accurately calculating how much they need.

Jay Shah is a broadcast journalist finishing her Master of Arts degree at Kent State University. She joined WKSU as a news intern in 2020 and now works as a freelance producer for Ideastream Public Media’s daily local news headlines.