Chemical shortages hamper US growers

US farmers have cut back on using common weedkillers. Now they are on the lookout for substitutes to popular fungicides, and they are changing planting plans over persistent shortages of agricultural chemicals that threaten their harvests.

Spraying smaller volumes of herbicides and turning to less-effective fungicides increase the risk of weeds and diseases to dent crop production at a time when global grain supplies are already tight because the Ukraine war is reducing the country's exports. Prices for glyphosate and glufosinate, a widely used herbicide sold under the brand Liberty, jumped more than 50% from last year, dealers said.

Sources from the US Agriculture Department said they heard from farmers and food companies concerned about whether agribusinesses are hiking prices for goods like chemicals, seeds, and fertilizer to boost profit, not simply because of supply and demand factors. The agency has launched an inquiry into competition in the sector, and some watchdog groups said it is moving too slowly.



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