Farm Action and 23 signing organizations urged the USDA to make policy changes that would allow the nation’s farmers to escape from under the thumb of highly-consolidated fertilizer cartels. The groups filed joint comments in response to the agency’s request for information about the fertilizer supply chain and competition in the marketplace.
The groups stated that fertilizer corporations have been price-gouging farmers by tying fertilizer prices to commodity prices instead of to natural market pressures; fertilizer corporations cite global crises, mounting costs, and supply chain issues as the reason for higher prices, but their own financial statements and sky-rocketing profits clearly refute these excuses.
Exorbitant fertilizer prices are leading to reduced crop yields and will exacerbate an impending global food crisis. The groups stated, “If ever there was a time that we should be supporting our farmers to maximize their yields and produce as much food as they can, it should be now.”
The groups made several recommendations to decentralize the fertilizer industry, such as preventing current and future investments into domestic fertilizer production from “[ending] up in the pockets of the same players who have been dominating this industry.” The groups also encouraged the government to more actively monitor price-gouging and aggressively prevent mergers between fertilizer corporations. In their closing, the groups pointed to the 2023 Farm Bill as an opportunity for the USDA to reduce the United States’ dependence on fertilizer cartels by expanding current cover crop programs and increasing funding for research around soil health and cover crop demonstration trials.
The deadline for the USDA’s request for information has been extended for a second time until July 15, but Farm Action and its allied organizations submitted their comments early due to the issue’s urgency. Farm Action has an ongoing focus on the highly-consolidated fertilizer industry; in December of 2021, the organization sent a letter to the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) calling for an investigation into this sector on suspicion of anti-competitive practices.
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