(CNSNews.com) – “I don’t think we’re headed for a famine, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday. He said there’s no shortage of food, but supply chain problems, inflation and higher interest rates are cutting into farmers’ profits.
“We’re still growing. We’re going to plant more acres of crops this year than we ever have in the United States. So basically what we have is not only just a supply chain shortage, but we have a shortage of leadership. We have a shortage of action.
“We need this administration to close our border, to open the pipelines, to issue drilling permits, et cetera. That’s where the problem is.”
Miller noted that tractors and combines run on diesel fuel, the price of which is “through the roof.”
“But it’s not just diesel. It’s fertilizer process it’s parts,” he said:
“We can’t get new tractors, new combines, we can’t get new tillage equipment. So we have to keep running our older equipment, which we can’t get parts for. So it’s just a whole comedy of errors, and it just multiplies on top of itself.
“The one saving grace is, thanks to the Trump administration, our commodity prices are just about as good as they’ve ever been. But here in the south we’ve had a drought, we’ve got record wheat prices. But if you don’t have wheat to sell it doesn’t really matter what the price is.
“In the West and Midwest they’ve had extensive rains, they’re way behind on their planting. So we’ve got our usual culprits and challenges that we have in agriculture, whether it be in markets and the weather and now this administration is complicating that with supply chain shortages, fuel prices through the roof, fertilizer through the roof, et cetera.”
Miller said U.S. commodity prices are higher now because Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese commodities, but at the same time, expenses are higher “and it offsets the profits.”
He also pointed to higher interest rates, which impact farmers: “We operate on borrowed money. We can’t self-finance. So now we’re paying higher interest rates. That all eats into the profits in the bottom line of our nation’s farmers.”
Food system ‘transformation’
Miller’s comments came on the same day the Biden Agriculture Department announced a “framework for shoring up the food supply chain and transforming the food system to be fairer, more competitive, more resilient.”
The framework doesn’t mention any of Miller’s concerns, however.
“As the pandemic has evolved and Russia’s war in Ukraine has caused supply chain disruptions, it has become clear we cannot go back to the food system we had before: the Biden-Harris Administration and USDA recognize we must build back better and strengthen the food system across the supply chain, from how our food is produced to how it is purchased, and all the steps in between,” USDA said in a news release.
USDA said its food system “transformation” will:
— Provide “more and better market options for consumers and producers while reducing carbon pollution”:
“In order to be more resilient, the food system of the future needs to be more distributed and local. Having more capacity to gather, process, move and store food in different geographic areas of the country will provide more options for producers to …sell locally, which will support new economic opportunities and job creation in rural communities. Additional regional capacity will also give consumers more options to buy locally produced products — helping ensure food is available to consumers—and reduce the climate impact of our food supply chain.”
— Create a “fairer food system that combats market dominance and helps producers and consumers gain more power in the marketplace by creating new, more and better local market options…COVID has revealed the perils of a food system dominated by a few corporate players. USDA’s investments will deliver a better deal for farmers, ranchers, growers and consumers.”
— Make nutritious food “more accessible and affordable for consumers:
“Hard-pressed families — including those who depend on school meals, SNAP, and seniors on fixed incomes — may have limited food options and some communities have been underserved by grocery stores and food retailers, making it difficult to access healthy food…That is why USDA’s Food System Transformation framework includes programs to ensure all consumers are able to access fresh, healthy, nutritious food.”
— Emphasize “equity”:
“For too long, rural communities, underserved communities, communities that experience persistent poverty, and the people who live there have been left behind. Where you live should not determine a fair shot to economic opportunity. It is in these communities where most of our food comes from; where most of the water that we drink comes from; and where most of the energy we consume comes from.
“USDA’s Food System Transformation investments will create more economic opportunities for these communities and allow them to retain more of the food system dollar. This will speed the transition to more equitable growth, with the wealth created from these communities remaining in small towns and underserved communities, helping to lift them out of poverty.”
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