The animals can work land that is inaccessible to tractors, and vineyard owners say they improve the soil for grapes. But they raise costs as well.
Natural gas is used to manufacture ammonia, which is a key ingredient in fertilizers.
"We're wondering what this next crop year brings," said Brian Duncan. "But farmers are price takers, and that puts us in a really tough spot."
Patrick Smith, CEO of Loftus Ranches, is fighting inflation as well. Some fertilizer materials have nearly doubled in a year or two, he says.
"This is scary stuff," one researcher tells us.
The pandemic accelerated automation purchases, according to an industry group, especially in agriculture, construction and fast food.
“There are a lot of empty fields that aren't being planted — something I've never seen before," say Terranova Ranch's Don Cameron.
Wheat prices could increase more than 40% and energy more than 50% this year, according to the bank's president, David Malpass.
The Biden administration is examining the role market consolidation may play in the cost of seeds, fertilizer and other agricultural supplies.