The Columbia Missourian | The Price of Plenty

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Funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center’s nationwide Connected Coastlines reporting initiative, The Price of Plenty teamed up student journalists from the University of Florida and the University of Missouri to report on the fertilizer industry from the ground up: From Florida’s “Bone Valley,” where 8-million-pound earth movers strip-mine phosphate, to agrichemical plants along the Mississippi River, to farm fields and legislative hallways, to the communities stuck next door to the industry, and to the Gulf of Mexico dead zone, where it threatens one of the most productive fisheries in the world.

Student journalists found that the industry wields outsized political power; that farmers have little incentive to use less; and that nutrient pollution persists despite exhaustive science linking fertilizer to toxic algae and other problems. 

Farmers Navigate the Tricky Terrain of Profit Versus Planet

Bailey Becker

Farm Action’s Sarah Carden said the agriculture industry and farm support programs are set up to support conventional farming, which disincentivizes alternative practices that don’t rely on chemical inputs.

Your Money and the Climate Are up for Debate in This Year's Farm Bill

Lauren Hines-Acosta

Farm Action’s Sarah Carden sees the 2023 Farm Bill as an opportunity to “lay the groundwork for the beginning of some larger-scale change” in our current food and agriculture system.

The Cost of Growth: Fertilizer Companies Cash in While Farmers and Communities Struggle

Noah Zahn

Farm Action’s Joe Maxwell discussed how consolidation in the fertilizer industry has led to market manipulation. Over the last few years, a handful of dominant companies have raked in record profits by hiking their prices. Meanwhile, farmers struggled to stay afloat under the weight of astronomical input costs.