For many years commodity and food prices have been so low it’s been hard for American farmers to make a profit and consequently a decent living for their families.

Like any business, no profit means farmers will go out of business, forcing food production overseas.

None of us wants food production to go the way of oil. Today, we must rely on often-unfriendly countries to supply much of our energy needs. We see the consequences of that situation at the gas pump as just the potential for tightened supply causes prices to soar.

The U.S. has about an 11-day food supply within our massive food chain. One can only imagine the consequences if we allowed China and Brazil to grow our food and they decide for political reasons to no longer send us that food.

Right now, commodity and food prices have risen. Many farmers could make a decent living based on the actual price received for the food they produce. Prices for Georgia cotton, pecans and peanuts are at or near a record high. Even Georgia peaches are likely to fetch record prices this summer.

But, just as our farmers are getting to the point where they can make a decent living from food prices, another issue has come into play. Input costs have risen so rapidly and so dramatically that it’s unlikely many of our farmers can continue to make a decent living.

Instability in the energy market affects more than the price of gas for our cars.

The price of fuel to plow fields, nitrogen to fertilize crops and grain to feed livestock has increased at alarming rates over the past year. There seems to be no end in sight to the increases of these vital agricultural inputs.

In particular, Georgia’s poultry industry, the largest poultry industry in the U.S., is having an increasingly difficult time as the cost of feed, primarily corn, skyrockets.

High food and commodity prices have given some farmers a chance to finally rely less on government-support programs. Yet, with increased costs, these programs will have to be re-instated to keep our farmers in business and food production growing in the U.S.

The only real and long-lasting solution is to reduce inputs used in traditional agriculture. We need to find ways to reduce fertilizers, pesticides and water (since it requires fuel to pump ground water) used to grow crops. The cost of feed and medicine to keep our animals healthy also needs to be reduced.