‘It’s just kind of a nervous time for me as a grower’: Ukraine-Russia war adds to uncertainty for farmers

SPOKANE, Wash- Russia and Ukraine are both big wheat-producing countries and it’s been more than a week since the war began. The crisis is creating uncertainty for Washington farmers, which adds to the list of concerns as they recover from last year’s drought and rising costs on products such as fertilizer.

The wheat grown in Washington is mostly exported, which means what’s happening in another heavily wheat-producing region, such as Ukraine and Russia could directly impact us here on the other side of the world.

“It’s just kind of a nervous time for me as a grower and then we’d gotten some snow early but still it hasn’t been an overly wet winter, and you just kind of add all those things up and it’s a scary time for a farmer,” former president of Washington Wheat Growers Association Ryan Poe said.

While it may appear that eastern Europe’s lack of production would lead to opportunity in Washington based on simple supply and demand. Poe says uncertainty is a farmer’s enemy.

Our weather is usually enough to worry about, but last year’s drought and the cost input costs such as fertilizer, fuel already up 900 percent has led to only more concerns.

“Some of the chemicals are herbicides are extremely hard to get to, and then the price when you get it is way up and it just all adds to that cost going in that we can’t really control,” Poe said.

As those costs rise Poe believes they’ll get passed onto the consumer while all factors including the war could increase the price of food.

“It’s just going to be a challenging year and I’m just hoping that the prices can and I hope that we can have a good production to where the yield and the price all add up to where we can hopefully make a profit or stay in business,” Poe said.

Related: Northwest winter wheat crop already stressed by drought

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