Ukraine war could result in fertilizer shortages on the Eastern Shore

March 31, 2022

According to a report from Virginia Public Radio, agricultural industry figures gathered in Richmond Tuesday for the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade. Even as they highlighted Virginia’s farm exports, the war in Europe cast its shadow on an important import.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has major implications for food. A lot of countries get their wheat from the two nations. And animal feed comes from there, too. But Virginia will probably feel this in a different way, says Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matt Lohr.

“I think the biggest, the biggest crisis that Virginia agriculture is going to experience comes in fertilizer,” Lohr explains.

Potash is a major component in fertilizer, and a lot of it is mined in Russia and neighboring Belarus. Between sanctions and port closures, a significant amount of the world’s supply is tied up in the war.

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“There’ll be fertilizer available to plant the crops, but later in the summer, when we need that top dressing and a second dose, the availability of fertilizers is going to be a big challenge,” Lohr says. “So, certainly that’s something that’s on the mind of producers all across the Commonwealth, and all across the country for that matter.”

Agriculture and forestry is Virginia’s largest industry and has an economic impact of $91 billion. It employs 440,000 Virginians.

During Tuesday’s event, Governor Glenn Youngkin said, “we exported more than $4.1 billion in agriculture and forestry products at an all time high for the Commonwealth. In fact, it was 28% higher than the year before”

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