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Rising wheat prices may not bring bounties to U.S. farmers

This month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched an investigation into “competition problems” in the markets for seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural supplies.

Russia and Ukraine are among the main producers of wheat in the world, and because of the war, the price of this product has skyrocketed. But that doesn’t mean American farmers are cashing in, said wheat farmer Nicole Berg.

“I have double, triple fertilizer costs. Or fuel costs. Then you just have to grow the crop,” she said with a chuckle.

Berg heads the National Wheat Growers Association. Between the drought conditions and rising business expenses, she said, “I’m not sure the price of wheat keeps pace with my yield, my input costs.”

According to Phil Howard, who studies food systems at Michigan State University, part of what drives up the price of farm supplies and equipment is market consolidation.

“Whether you look at seeds, chemicals, agricultural machinery, just four companies control 40% of the global market for all of these,” he said.

The USDA investigation stems from a broader order from the Joe Biden administration promote competition in the US economy.

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