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Montana Ag Network: fertilizer prices keep climbing

Jeremiah Gulick
Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 19, 2022

FAIRFIELD — The price of fertilizer has skyrocketed over the past year, making it difficult for not only farmers, but also for suppliers to keep their prices down and remain in stock.

The Gulick family has been operating Gulick Farm Fertilizer for more than 20 years, and with the rising prices of fertilizer, purchasing a bag has become increasingly difficult. "It's been challenging," said owner Jeremiah Gulick.

But it's not just farmers that are looking for alternatives; fertilizer suppliers say that their prices have nearly doubled the past year.

Nate Fairbanks serves as the Agronomy Division Manager at Mountain View Co-op. He said, "One of the major challenges that we are seeing is that there has been a lot of 'black swan' events that have happened between supply shortages, increased fuel costs, and getting suppliers to actually get trucks to actually move fertilizer across borders and across state lines, so there's a lot of things that have probably been challenges inside of this from trying to get fertilizer in the right place, at the right time as much as anything else."

James Holiand, owner of Green Up Lawn, Landscape, and Sprinklers, said, "What we really did this year, which is kind of an abnormal thing for us, is we ordered all of our stock for the whole entire year, all at one shot, and had to put the investment up just to make sure we had it so we can serve the customers for the whole season."

An even larger concern is the drought conditions, leading farmers to question if using fertilizer is the necessary approach.

Montana Farmers Union president Walter Schweitzer said, "Seventy to 80 percent of our agricultural lands that are producing corn, soybeans, and malting barley. are all under a drought situation, and a good farmer under a drought doesn't use fertilizer."

As far as what to expect for the remainder of the year, it's hard to predict.

"These markets will roll, they'll change instantly," Gulick noted. "In drastically high numbers, so you just got to take this one day at a time."