Fertilizer prices keep rising, hurting farmers in Iowa and around the country. The industry is pushing for policy changes it thinks could help the situation. But advocates for producers feel those ideas avoid core issues. Analysts say the price shift began last fall, with supply-chain issues cited as one factor. In response, the Fertilizer Institute suggests eliminating export restrictions in China, dropping vaccine mandates at the Canada/U-S border for truck drivers, and encouraging growers to adopt stewardship practices. Joe Maxwell, of the group Farm Action, agrees that global matters are a barrier. But he feels the recently released recommendations gloss over a key area.
Research arms such as the Bureau of Economics say four corporations’ control 75% of nitrogen fertilizer production in North America. But the industry argues the US market still is competitive, and that many other countries only have a single domestic fertilizer producer. The USDA is moving forward on a series of plans to address competition concerns.
Jesse Womack, of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, says some of those efforts should focus on helping farmers find alternatives to synthetic fertilizers.
But the Fertilizer Institute’s Corey Rosenbusch is among those not as convinced that dependency can be reduced.