Saying fertilizer shortages are creating a hardship for farmers across the U.S., the National Corn Growers Association – along with 62 other agricultural groups, including state corn grower organizations – sent a letter today to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo calling on her to consider the current difficulties faced by farmers as she recalculates duties on phosphate fertilizer imported from Morocco.
The letter comes after the U.S. Court of International Trade ordered the agency to reconsider its previous decision on calculating the duties.
“High costs and limited availability of fertilizer continue to strain family farms across the United States,” the letter said. “[We] urge you to consider the impact of phosphate duties as the Department of Commerce works to reconsider its duty rate calculation.”
The duties levied on fertilizes have caused one of the U.S.’s top importers of certain phosphate fertilizers, the Moroccan-based OCP Group, to drastically reduce U.S. imports over the last few years, even on products not sold in this country or easily attained by American farmers.
As the letter explains, these developments are having a financial impact on farmers.
“Duties levied on phosphate imports combined with these other factors have led to substantial price volatility over the past three years as evident by phosphate price increases of over 230% from 2020 to 2022,” according to the letter signatories. “During 2022, farmers spent $36.9 billion on fertilizer and lime, compared to $24.4 billion in 2020.”
The issue originated in February 2021 when Commerce called on the International Trade Commission to implement duties of almost 20% on imported fertilizers from Morocco after the Mosaic Company, which manufactures fertilizers used in the U.S. and abroad, filed a petition with the department seeking the levies. The ITC voted in March of that year to impose the duties while adding similar levies on Russian imports.
Soon after, NCGA and state corn grower groups launched a full campaign to raise awareness among policymakers, including members of Congress and administration officials, about the impact the duties would have on farmers. The organization worked with the media and provided written statements and farmer testimony on the matter.
The court’s recent ruling to remand Commerce’s decision was seen as a partial win by grower leaders, but advocates say for farmers to be successful, trade barriers must be eliminated completely.
“American agriculture must have market access to compete globally, and a major impediment like a fertilizer duty only undermines the ability to establish and expand markets,” the letter noted.
Absent delays, Commerce is expected to finalize its administrative review by November 1, and issue its remand determination by December 13.
READ THE LETTER