Industries of all kinds have been experiencing a roller coaster of highs and lows when it comes to the daily operation of businesses in recent years. On the low side, there’s supply chain issues and staffing shortages. On the high side is the demand for products and services and, in some sectors, a willingness by consumers to pay a premium for big ticket items. The agriculture industry is really no different.

In 2021, Michigan farmers saw the preliminary farm value of field crops increase 24 percent as compared to 2020 but supply chain challenges took a bite out of those gains in value. Going in to the 2022 growing season, input costs are even higher, particularly when it comes to things like fertilizer. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also impacted the markets and has the potential to put additional pressure on the global food system.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state has 500 fewer farms in 2021 than it did in 2020 but the state’s average size farm remained unchanged at 211 acres. Extreme weather and disease—affecting both crops and livestock—pose a constant threat.

A Food Security and Rural Development Supplemental, valued at more than $1 billion, has been introduced in Lansing with, supporters say, the intent to support food security in Michigan and beyond.

National Agriculture Day was officially marked yesterday, March 22, and now through Saturday, March 26, is considered National Agriculture Week. The Agriculture Council of America coordinates events around the day with the intent of increasing the public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in society. It’s good to offer that reminder to the average consumer and the farmer or farm worker who toils to keep us fed. The occasion should also serve as a reminder that cultivating crops and animals is not an easy job.

It’s our wish that the 2022 growing season is a good one for local producers. It’s obvious there will be a lot on their plates—both in the form of challenges and opportunities—in the coming months.