Shortages in nitrogen fertilizers are placing an undue burden on farmers and could eventually be detrimental to the global food supply, according to testimony provided today to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Commission (ITC).
The hearing comes after CF Industries filed a petition with ITC in late 2021, requesting that the commission place tariffs on urea ammonium nitrate, which is used in liquid fertilizers imported from Russia and Trinidad and Tobago. Shortages and prices have since increased exponentially.
“Some farmers are electing not to use UAN at recommended rates and, therefore, sacrificing yield because of the shortages,” said Nebraska corn grower Andy Jobman, who represented the National Corn Growers Association during the hearing. “As a farmer and agronomist, I can assure you that we study the optimal rate of UAN that should be applied and are cutting back given the shortages in the market.”
This is an incredibly important issue for American farmers, Jobman told the commissioners.
“Fertilizer is one of our greatest inputs,” he said. “Nitrogen fertilizers, including UAN, account for more than 50% of fertilizer expenses. Even before the tariffs went into effect in December of last year, we were paying more than 300% for UAN year-over-year.”
ITC should also understand that the market needs diversity of supply, Jobman warned.
“Hurricane Ida, and the resulting shutdown of one of CF Industries’ key facilities, led to shortages in the market,” he said. “Winter storms have often led to market disruptions as well when other domestic producers go off-line, and U.S. fertilizer producers also export needed production out of the United States.”
The hearing marks a final phase of the investigation, with a decision expected as early as this summer.