Farmers and Ranchers are the backbone of America, putting food on kitchen tables across the nation. Food security in America is an essential component of a free country and energy security is vital as farmers and ranchers grow and distribute food. Energy security equates to food security.

Food production is becoming more expensive for farmers and ranchers. Along with some of the highest energy costs we’ve seen in decades, supply chain disruptions, input unavailability/rising input prices, and skyrocketing inflation are all impacting our ability to grow food.

Agriculture and energy, while different industries, are inherently linked as farmers and ranchers utilize oil and gas to grow, fertilize, and harvest their crops and transport crops and livestock.

The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) has long been aware of the relationship between agriculture and energy production. In our eyes, energy security isfood security. It has been difficult for farmers and ranchers to continue operating their businesses due to rising energy costs, threatening the essential food pipeline agriculture provides our nation.

WyFB research shows that Wyoming farmers and ranchers will spend $50 million more in fuel costs in 2022 compared to 2017, with prices up 13 percent already compared to 2021. This comes on the heels of projections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which predicts a 34 percent increase in 2022 from 2021 for the cost of fuel, lube, and electricity. Americans could be seeing—or are already seeing—a growing weakness in America’s food security. We call on our nation’s policymakers to craft policy that supports both our nation’s agricultural and energy industries before it’s too late.

Energy resources, such as natural gas and diesel, are essential to agriculture. These resources play a vital role in developing the fertilizers and sprays that we use to grow and protect our crops. With heavy reliance on these energy resources to power our equipment, farmers are now fiscally struggling to fulfill daily duties and crops risk going unharvested.

Technology advances have enabled us to harvest more efficiently, however, our fuel and fertilizer costs have increased substantially.  The increases in fuel cost not only affect our ability to get crops planted and harvested, but the increased cost to transport those crops to market also shift up and down the supply chain.

Farmers are diligent and thoughtful when making planting decisions, considering all aspects and connections before tilling the field. The same must be done when it comes to our nation’s energy policies, particularly in consideration of agriculture production. To resolve our nation’s insecurities, we must improve America’s energy infrastructure and focus on empowering—and powering—American farmers and ranchers for the foreseeable future.

Energy costs not only affect how warm Americans can stay this winter, they also affect the cost of food.  Energy security is truly linked to food security.

By Todd Fornstrom, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation President