The actual food problem

Forget Ukraine’s wheat exports. This is the actual food problem:

Russia’s grip on the fertiliser market is being felt by British farmers who face sharply rising prices that are expected to have a big effect on the supply chain and push up the cost of groceries.

Farmers are paying close to £1,000 a tonne for ammonium nitrate fertiliser, compared with £647 in January and £245 in January last year, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. The cost of urea, phosphate and potash fertiliser has more than doubled.

James Cox, an arable farmer in Gloucestershire, said that fertiliser used to be 55 per cent of the cost of his business, but will now be near to 80 per cent. “If I used to pay around £36,000 for my fertiliser and am now facing a £120,000 bill, where am I going to get that money from? None of us knows what the price will be for next year and we are all having to take decisions about laying it now.”

Potash and potassium are minor influences. The main cost of ammonium nitrate is natural gas.

We need to go fracking so we can eat.

34 thoughts on “The actual food problem”

  1. There isn’t a fertiliser problem…

    There’s some perfectly fine manure being treated as Highly Toxic Hazardous Waste because of Environmental Concerns being produced every day. At ridiculous and quite artificial costs.

    Save the Economy! Eat more Bacon!

  2. Here I was thinking that there’s plenty of phosphate in Morocco. And the US if they’d just stop worrying about the uranium in the ore.

    But you’re right Grikath. We all produce plenty of fertiliser every day. And it’d solve the problem of the over-loaded sewers that Tim’s mentioned elsewhere.

    Though since I understand it’s cold over there just now, I’d still say starting up fracking immediately is a good idea.

  3. How much would it cost to reopen a Sodium Nitrate mine in the Atacama Desert? What price of Ammonium Nitrate makes the old processes economic? This could be an investment opportunity!

  4. Dear BraveFart,

    There isn’t any such thing as a ‘barbaric’ war. All war is barbaric, hence your phrase is tautologous. It’s the misuse of the word ‘war’ (as in ‘war on drugs’ or ‘war on poverty’) that has perhaps mislead you into thinking there was any such thing as a not-barbaric war.

    The truly sad thing about war is that sometimes it is necessary.

    I think that it may be worth playing this Youtube video and listening carefully : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEqRZMQ2dhg . You will hear a sound that reduced people of my mother’s generation to tears. It even gives me the creeps. And that’s without the bombs exploding. Was it the same in Germany? Perhaps not the same sirens, but the same effects. Or Japan. Or anywhere else for that matter. Totally barbaric.

  5. Why worry? We can import everything we need, our host has told us so for the last decade or more. Imports are whats important, we get foreigners to give us stuff for our bits of worthless paper. We don’t need to make stuff ourselves, or have exports that other people need, just sell foreigners bits of our ever growing financial wealth and buy their stuff with the proceeds. Balance of trade shmalance of trade! Who cares? We get ever wealthier, we can live by consuming other people’s stuff forever!

    Oops…….

  6. Bravefart – Salman Rushdie, Sting, some French commie, AND Sean Penn? I love it when the band gets back together. Unfortunately this band is Wings.

    President Volodymyr Zelensky, with his spirit of resistance, his heroism and his uncompromising fidelity to democratic values, has the admiration of all.

    FACT CHECK: No, he doesn’t.

    These hardened military brigades, these teachers, restauranteurs, labourers, dancers, these women and men from all walks of life, rising up, also defend our liberty.

    FACT CHECK: No, they aren’t.

    Countries providing urgent military aid to Ukraine must ensure that their shipments correspond properly and are most useful for the current tactical situation: light man-held anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons that can be deployed rapidly and effectively

    Wait, remember when these guys posed as peacemongers? Now they want to flood a warzone with more weapons. Do Russians not love their children any more, Sting?

    European and American companies should freeze, whatever it takes, all commercial activity, in whatever form, in Russia and with Russia.

    Take THAT, random working class people trying not to starve in Russia.

    Imports on Russian oil should, under further notice, be suspended in all of Europe; and Europe should work to diversify without delay, and permanently, its gas supply

    Take THAT, entire European economy and the hundreds of millions of jobs, livelihoods and lives that depend on not having Great Depression 2.0.

    These sanctions, if they are resolutely put in place, can end this war.

    But if they don’t, and sanctions have a pretty abysmal record in forcing foreign governments to do what we want, try not to worry. I’m pretty sure Salman Rushdie, Sting, Sean Penn and the French commie are all millionaires who don’t actually need jobs. Maybe we can all work as waiters in their holiday mansions.

  7. @Witchie, go easy on BraveFart – his 10 things are actually Steve’s idiots’ 10 things. It’s just the title of that Telegraph piece.

  8. “There’s some perfectly fine manure being treated as Highly Toxic Hazardous Waste because of Environmental Concerns being produced every day. At ridiculous and quite artificial costs.”

    The main problem in using our shit for fertiliser is the concentration and build up of the drugs therein, particularly contraceptives, that make their way into the plants they are fed to. It is used to fertilise maize for use in bio digesters, but nothing for human consumption. Of course it could and should be used to feed biogas plants as-is. And not just human waste. Plenty of farms I know run their entire operation on generators burning gas fermented from their own free supplies of pig shit.

  9. Sewage is already used as fertiliser, just once its been through the sewage treatment system. Farms already have sewage ‘cake’ (ie whats left after raw sewage has been through the treatment plant) spread on their fields, its one of the major disposal methods that the UK uses for its sewage. Without putting it back on the land you would either have to dump it at sea or pay exorbitant amounts of money to incinerate it. So sewage is already being used as fertiliser. And its doesn’t have a massive nutrient content either, there’s no way it replaces nitrate rich artificial fertilisers. If you want to feed 7bn people on planet earth you better keep the supply of artificial fertiliser flowing, otherwise a LOT of people will go hungry, starve to death indeed.

    You also can’t put raw sewage onto land that will be used for human food consumption for a myriad of reasons, the main ones being contamination by bacteria (remember that outbreak of E.coli in Germany some years ago that killed 50 people and poisoned thousands more – that was caused by raw sewage contaminating fenugreek seeds produced in Egypt), and runoff into watercourses.

  10. We can import everything we need, our host has told us so for the last decade or more.

    Quite so on the sarc, Jim. Unfortunately this is a lesson that will never be learned. The economists go a bit quiet during the bad times but are soon back with short-termism once an emergency is over.

    As a small island nation we can’t do everything, but even the USA, a continent sized nation, is plagued with this insanity. So you have Biden* running off begging to Venezuela (Venezuela!) for energy. Sad!

    BTW, I think our two boreholes are being concreted as we type.

  11. “BTW, I think our two boreholes are being concreted as we type.”
    I’ve just been informed by a mate over your side that the Ministr-of-whatever-it-is has put a hold on this. Is that actually correct? It seems uncharacteristically sensible & rapid & importantly brave for a politician. Has Princess Nut-Nut ripped his balls off yet?

  12. So there’s a claim that Tim is wrong in someway – do net food exporters really do better in a crisis?
    Didn’t work out in the potato famine, and not looking good for UKR and RUS this year.
    It’s probably about even, but protections against imports and competition and insisting by subsidies that land is used for lower value stuff – not good. Which is what UK does now.

    If there really is a crisis then having a diversity of geographical supply e.g. North America feed is going to be helpful.

  13. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    Surely we can just fertilise the fields with the Kremlin claptrap that is oozing out of Stevie’s mouth? It seems to be copious, free flowing and 100% shit. Ideal slurry.

    Trust me, I’m the son of a farmer.

  14. There is a shortage of natural gas to produce NH3 in order to make fertiliser largely because we are using it to meet the shortfall between rated and actual wind-power production of electricity and the greenies (are they servants of Putin or of the Mekon?) have blocked or delayed indefinitely the building of safe nuclear power stations to generate electricity for peaceful use.

  15. . . . the Kremlin claptrap that is oozing out of Stevie’s mouth . . .

    To be fair, it’s more anti us than pro them. Sort of taking a “sophisticated viewpoint” via a small whip.

  16. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    Possibly, but many of his ‘facts’ come straight out of the “Big Book of Provable Kremlin Bollocks”

  17. HHG – Blyat! How did you penetrate my disguise, comrade?

    PJF – No, I’m not anti-us. I’m very much pro-us. I’m anti-them, them being the pompous arseclowns telling us to hate Brexiters anti-vaxxers Russians. While they simultaneously cosy up to those lovely, yooman rights respecting regimes in China and Saudi Arabia.

    Our enemies are not in Russia, or the Ukraine. It’s not Putler who’s stealing half your income, feeding sex change hormones to children, telling toddlers they’re racist, destroying our energy industry, or getting us all into fucktons of crippling debt over absolute bullshit. I don’t want my government to start a war with Russia, or China, or Timbuktu. I don’t want to see fat little men waddle in front of the cameras to do their worst Winston Churchill impressions. I just want them to fix potholes and take my bins away more than twice a month.

  18. So you have Biden running off begging to Venezuela (Venezuela!) for energy. Sad!

    Of which, apparently Vlad or his buddies own a big chunk.

    Let’s go Brandon!

  19. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    I don’t want my government to start a war with Russia, or China, or Timbuktu

    So you illustrate your (admiral) non-interventionist position by forwarding expansionalist Kremlin propaganda?

    Does. Not. Compute.

  20. HHG – So you illustrate your (admiral) non-interventionist position

    No secrets between sailors, IYKWIMAITYD

    by forwarding expansionalist Kremlin propaganda?

    Which ones? I am not in favour of Kremlin expansionism. I think I’ve probably mentioned that Russia is a kleptocratic shithole run by literal gangsters and their president is a cold blooded killer (Ukraine, otoh, is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT as their president is a comedian). I am not in favour of invading Ukraine, or invasions in general, or wars in general.

    I am also not in favour of courting potential suicide – of either the economic or atomic varieties – over which particular band of disgusting crooks gets to rule Kiev. I don’t think the entire country is worth the life of a single British squaddie, and even if it was I don’t think any of the intervention we’ve proposed or enacted so far is actually going to help Ukrainians. Helping turn a small war into a bigger, longer, harder, ooh err missus war doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

    While I wish Ukies well, their country is literally the geographical epitome of NOMFUP. I continue to be amazed and astounded that a bit of war porn on the telly and social media is enough to work people up into eructions of righteous rage, even tho we’re old enough to remember the lies and bullshit we were told about Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and so on, none of which were made “better” by anything Western governments did.

  21. PJF/Steve

    Agreed

    I think Bob has articulated it brilliantly throughout; this one in particular re current events:

    https://www.bobmoran.co.uk/downloads-1/rusian-man-bad-download

    The hypocrisy is breathtaking, and not just re Covid. America’s foreign policy since WW2 in particular makes their current actions something of a “you’re having a laugh?” moment for me. Don’t misunderstand. 1) I loathe authoritarianism, whether it’s that of Putin or of the west. And 2) If I was in America’s shoes, re foreign, I might have done lots of the same wince WW2 (not Iraq 2 obviously, that was just dumb), but having done that I’d then perhaps struggle to act out the last 20-30 years in Eastern Europe, and now jump up and down over Ukraine, at least with a straight face.

    Hence, trying to keep an open mind as I probably don’t understand what’s going on. For sure, I know it’s not the simple “for the masses” message that the MSM are frantically currently pushing. But what? Do the west want Putin gone, hoping that Russia will turn into a west-leaning liberal democracy that will support the USA against China? /sarc in case it wasn’t obvious…. There has to be more strategic thinking behind this (on all sides) than any of the current simplistic Putin good/bad nonsense?

    Probably the wrong thread, but whatever.

  22. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    And you demonstrate this amazing wisdom by presenting Russian lies as facts?

    Me thinks you protest too much.

  23. HHG – without wanting to shit up our host’s blog with excessive amounts of Steve content, I’d be happy to obstreperously disagree with you if you were willing to specify which “Kremlin lies” you think I’m spreading.

    PF – Do the west want Putin gone

    Oh yes. Puty-poot actually made a not too subtle reference to this when addressing one of his Central Asian peers not too long ago. Guy was chuntering on about disarmament, and Mad Vlad simply smiled Cyrillically and asked:

    “How did that work out for Saddam?”

    hoping that Russia will turn into a west-leaning liberal democracy that will support the USA against China?

    Idk, their (“our”) behaviour since winning (remember, we won) the cold war doesn’t make a lot of rational sense from outside the power structures. I’m sure it probably makes perfect sense to people within them. Overall tho, it looks a lot like fairly bog standard late-stage imperial decline, with all the ridiculous infighting, fantasy and grotesquerie that implies. The American empire, of which we and the important EU countries are merely loyal satraps and have been since 1945. That phase of world order is dying, the falcon cannot hear the falconer, mere anarchy, cats and dogs etc. Only remains to be seen if some Mexican warlord eventually coronates himself leader of the Holy American Empire or something.

    Part of the appeal of conspiracy theories is the belief that there’s some sort of master plan, even if it’s evil, is somehow more comforting than understanding that we are ruled by incompetent fuckwits whose only plan is to have left the building with plenty of cash in their pocketses before it all burns down on top of the suckers who thought they were being “led” somewhere good.

  24. Steve: “While I wish Ukies well …”

    Just a reminder that a fortnight ago Steve was assuring us that Ukrainians are “retarded”.

  25. Scott Ritter: Root causes, from 16.00 if short of time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRFjlnoMCeE

    Not sure (towards the end) how prescient he might be re possible outcomes if Russia flicks the oil switch, but this is clearly a bit different from what the Daily Mail is telling me – so I’m clearly still missing lots.

  26. Our enemies are not in Russia, or the Ukraine. It’s not Putler who’s stealing half your income, feeding sex change hormones to children, telling toddlers they’re racist, destroying our energy industry, or getting us all into fucktons of crippling debt over absolute bullshit. I don’t want my government to start a war with Russia, or China, or Timbuktu. I don’t want to see fat little men waddle in front of the cameras to do their worst Winston Churchill impressions. I just want them to fix potholes and take my bins away more than twice a month.

    This.
    Although I would have added “keep the bloody lights on”. Or something to that effect.

    It seems that governments create more problems than they solve.
    We should keep government to as minimum as possible.

  27. Steve

    Your final two paras are interesting. Trying to work out how that reconciles with all the lock-step tyranny bollocks (and its wider implications) during Covid…

    “Only remains to be seen if some Mexican warlord eventually coronates himself leader of the Holy American Empire or something.”

    LOL. Thankfully I’ll be long gone by then.

  28. I’m just fed up with the 5 minute hate thats going on at the moment. Putin is being painted (correctly) as a ruthless dictator responsible for countless deaths, and we’re all invited to throw metaphorical rocks at him on a daily basis. Yet there’s loads of similar ‘world leaders’ that get an audience with the Queen if they happen to pop in to the UK (Xi and the Saudis for starters). Its the utter two faced hypocrisy of it all. With one hand we have Xi to practising genocide against his own people and we pretend not to notice because we get all our cheap sh*t from him, plus he owns most of the UK’s governing class now, and on the other we have a bunch of Arabs who never saw a woman they didn’t fancy stoning to death or a gay they didn’t want to throw off a tall building who we sell arms to so they can kill other Arabs that they don’t like. And all this is ignored because we need their oil and gas, and it suits the West to paint themselves as white knights defending freedom and democracy, and Russians as cartoon ‘baddies’. I mean, cancelling Tchaikovsky concerts? Sacking Russian conductors and racing drivers? Threatening schools who might be educating some Russian kids? Whats next, denouncing your neighbours because they have funny names and ‘sound a bit Russian’? Locking up anyone whose name ends on ‘Ov’ or Ski’? Its a funny sort of ‘freedom’ and ‘human rights’ we’re defending obviously, the sort that people who rock up in boats from nasty sh*tholes in the Middle East get, but random Russian citizens don’t get, even if they’ve lived here for years.

    And of course the leaders of the UK and USA both have a vested interest in getting the public’s attention off themselves, because both were on the ropes before all this kicked off, and magically now they aren’t. How convenient. And I wonder what happened to that global viral pandemic we read about in the papers? It was terrible wasn’t it? Went on for ages. But just seemed to end, all of a sudden. I wonder why?

    I really don’t give a flying f*ck what happens in Ukraine. They’ve spent the last few years winding up their neighbouring psycho, and now they’re discovering why he was called one. Equally bad if not far worse sh*t has been going on around the world for the last decade or more (a lot of it perpetrated by the West itself) with no more than a ‘How terrible, pass the prosecco darling’ out of the usual suspects so count me out of the wave of mass morality hysteria thats currently doing the rounds.

  29. Don’t trust Tim when he says fracking is the answer. Pricing the unknowns has not been adequately done yet. Market based pricing is flawed because the downside is capped (your liability is limited to how much they can sue you for).

  30. I guarantee that Russia would not have invaded if Ukraine still had the leftover Soviet nukes. But we and the Russians wanted so badly to push nonproliferation that we gave Ukraine a security guarantee that Russia, the UK and the US all reneged on.

    The next time we want to push nonproliferation, we will get a hearty laugh in the face. Hi North Korea, Iran, Israel… Welcome to the club South Korea, Japan, Taiwan… Remember what great power security guarantees are worth.

  31. Does anyone here know what the hell the American biolabs in Ukraine were for?

    Plausible deniability?

  32. No, I’m not anti-us. I’m very much pro-us.

    Ah, we’re talking at cross purposes. To me, in this context of Russian invasion, “us” is the West (in a Cold War-ish way). To you, “us” is the Tuesday bin round.

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