It’s a question that’s been asked a lot lately, as farmers have struggled to compete with the arrival of new varieties of seeds and pesticides.
But if you ask farmers, most would prefer to save money than to buy expensive new varieties.
And the answer is: it depends.
“The biggest problem for us right now is that there are so many new seed varieties that we need to purchase and so many pesticides that we can’t find in time,” said Andrew Zilber, a spokesman for the Colorado-based Organic Seed Growers Association.
The association has issued a warning on the topic, warning farmers that the prices for new varieties are “so high” that they can’t justify investing in a new crop.
The issue isn’t just a local one.
The USDA reports that the number of varieties growing in the U.S. increased by more than 200 percent in 2015.
That’s more than doubling the amount of new species that have been introduced since 1996.
And farmers are having trouble finding the seeds they need.
According to the USDA, the number one reason for not having enough seed for a crop is “the availability of seed and fertilizer.”
That shortage of fertilizer and seed is creating problems for the farmers who are trying to make ends meet.
“I don’t want to buy a new seed every year, but I want to be able to do that with the cheapest, most efficient seed that I can get,” said Michael McAllister, owner of a small farm in St. Louis, Missouri.
“That’s where you get the problems.”
In some cases, the problem can be traced back to an imbalance in the supply and demand for seed.
In 2014, the U-Pick company in North Carolina started distributing new seeds to farmers that they had purchased for free, as part of a program to help farmers get rid of the unwanted seeds.
That was an easy way for the company to get rid.
But it also created a market for seeds that were more expensive than what farmers could find at other seed suppliers.
“It was a great way to keep them happy, but the seeds themselves were really not that good,” said Kevin Grier, an organic farmer in Greenville, South Carolina.
“There’s just not much variety in the market.
So, when they were buying those seeds, they’re getting a lot of bad seeds, too.”
In 2015, McAllisters was one of the first to notice that some of the seeds were more abundant than the other varieties that were available.
McAllisers farm is one of just a handful of farms in the state that is producing organic crops.
But as the market for new seeds dwindles, the demand for those same seeds has increased as well.
“If you go out and you buy seeds and you’re not satisfied with the quality of the crop, then that’s what the price is going to be, and the farmer is going a lot farther to get their crop than if they were getting the seeds for free,” said Grier.
“We can’t really afford to wait any longer to get the best.”
And with so many of the new varieties out there, farmers are worried that their crops are going to end up in the trash.
“What you’re looking at right now are new plants that are just going to go into the trash,” said McAlliser.
“They’re not going to survive and they’re going to have no value in the end.
It’s just crazy.”
The USDA’s warning on this issue came after an investigation by ABC News.
The agency looked at more than 1,600 reports of problems and found that the most common reason for planting new seeds was a lack of seed or fertilizer.
In one case, Mcallisters farm reported that because of a shortage of fertilizers, they had to replace their entire stock of corn with new seed.
That led to a shortage in fertilizer for the corn plant.
The report concluded that there is a problem with the way the USDA is handling its efforts to get seed into the marketplace.
The problem is not just a problem for farmers in North Dakota, which has a similar problem.
In Iowa, where farmers are being forced to make a tough choice, the issue is even worse.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture said that there was an issue with the allocation of seed for the Iowa crop, leading to a “substantial shortfall” in available seed.
The state said that the shortage in seed was “likely due to a failure to meet the requirements for adequate supply and timely payment of a premium to the state.”
The report also found that there were a total of 3,828 reports of plants that had been rejected for seed that had not been approved by the USDA.
“Our crops are being severely impacted,” said Tom Kloza, the Iowa State Senator for the state’s 3rd Congressional District.
“In some cases they’re being rejected because they’ve got some kind of mold, or they’re just not the right color.”