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Stakes are high for farmers as 2022 crop shapes up to be most expensive in history

The stakes are high as Canadian farmers take to the fields to plant 2022's crop, which some are saying could find a place in the record books as "the most expensive ever."

On her family's farm northeast of Calgary near Acme, Alta., where she farms with her husband Matt, Tara Sawyer already knows she's going to need a better-than-average crop this year just to break even. All of her input costs have surged since last year due to inflationary pressures, spiking energy costs, and the war in Ukraine.

The price of fertilizer is more than double what it was last year, and the diesel used to power her farm equipment also costs nearly twice what it did last year at this time. But getting that above average crop could be a challenge.

Last year, Sawyer's farm was hit hard by the widespread drought that reduced crop yields across Western Canada and there are fears already that this could be another dry year. "Most farmers, including us, saw a 30 per cent reduction in our yields, so we need to be able to have really good yields come out this year in order to pay for that," she said. "But in our region, we're already horribly dry, so we're concerned." But it's not all bad news. While the cost of everything from seed to herbicides to tractor tires has increased in 2022, so too have crop prices.

Sawyer, for example, grows wheat, barley and canola — all of which are hot commodities right now due to supply pressures created by the Russia-Ukraine war and the aftermath of last year's drought. "There's a number of crops that are sitting at all-time highs, or near all-time highs," said Jon Driedger, of Manitoba-based LeftField Commodity Research. "If you go back two years, the price of canola has doubled, almost tripled. Wheat's higher than it's been in 20 years, corn's pushing up against a record high. It's really across the board."

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