The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will support additional fertilizer production for American farmers to address rising costs, including the impact of Putin’s price hike on farmers, and spur competition.
USDA will make available $250 million through a new grant program this summer to support independent, innovative and sustainable American fertilizer production to supply American farmers.
Additionally, to address growing competition concerns in the agricultural supply chain, USDA will launch a public inquiry seeking information regarding seeds and agricultural inputs, fertilizer and retail markets.
“Recent supply chain disruptions from the global pandemic to Putin’s unprovoked war against Ukraine have shown just how important it is to invest in this crucial link in the agricultural supply chain here at home,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“In addition to the jobs, lower costs and more reliable supply, increased investment in the domestic fertilizer industry will help address climate change by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation, while also fostering more sustainable production methods and more precise application.”
Fertilizer prices have more than doubled since last year due to many factors including Putin’s price hike, a limited supply of the relevant minerals and high energy costs, high global demand and agricultural commodity prices, reliance on fertilizer imports, and lack of competition in the fertilizer industry.
The U.S. is a major importer and dependent on foreign fertilizer and is the second or third top importer for each of the three major components of fertilizer. The top producers of the major components of fertilizer include China, Russia, Canada and Morocco, with Belarus also providing a significant share of potash.
USDA will use funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) set aside in September for market disruptions to develop a grant program that provides ‘gap’ financing to bring new, independent domestic production capacity on-line—similar to the recently announced meat and poultry grants that are designed to promote competition and resilience in that sector.
The new program will support fertilizer production that is:
- Independent – outside the dominant fertilizer suppliers, increasing competition in a concentrated market
- Made in America – produced in the U.S. by domestic companies, creating good-paying jobs at home and reducing the reliance on potentially unstable or inconsistent foreign supplies
- Innovative – improve upon fertilizer production methods to jump start the next generation of fertilizers
- Sustainable – reduces the greenhouse gas impact of transportation, production, and use through renewable energy sources, feedstocks, formulations, and incentivizing greater precision in fertilizer use
- Farmer-focused – like other Commodity Credit Corp. investments, a driving factor will be providing support and opportunities for U.S. agriculture commodity producers
Details on the application process will be announced in the summer of 2022, with the first awards expected before the end of 2022.
“Concentrated market structures and potentially anticompetitive practices leave America’s farmers, businesses, and consumers facing higher costs, fewer choices and less control about where to buy and sell, and reduced innovation — ultimately making it harder for those who grow our food to survive,” said Secretary Vilsack.
“As I talk to farmers, ranchers and agriculture and food companies about the recent market challenges, I hear significant concerns about whether large companies along the supply chain are taking advantage of the situation by increasing profits — not just responding to supply and demand or passing along the costs.”