The USDA is dolin’ out funds and turnin’ up the heat on fertilizer markets in an effort to spur domestic production and ensure competition. During the Commodity Classic, USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced both an investment and an inquiry into the industry.
Skyrocketing input prices for things like fertilizer have farm funds tight. There’s no end in sight as Russia, a top fertilizer producer, gets the cold shoulder from global markets.
Fertilizer funds: A new grant program will use $250M in Commodity Credit Corporation funds to bring “gap” financing to new, independent, domestic fertilizer production. The investment is intent on rewarding innovation and sustainability from farmers.
The USDA says it will also tackle rising costs and lack of competition. The U.S. is a major importer of fertilizer from countries like China, Russia, Canada, and Morocco.
Competition query: The USDA says it’s launching a public inquiry into the consequences of concentration within the fertilizer, seed, and retail markets: aka, something kinda stinks. The inquiry is tied to the Biden administration’s July executive order to promote competition in the American economy. The USDA will collect comments for 60 days.
The USDA isn’t alone in their concern; the Iowa attorney general’s office is also investigating high fertilizer prices.
Where this goes: The grant program is expected to be ready for applicants this summer, with awards coming at the end of the year.
At the end of the inquiry, the USDA will compile comments, develop reports, and create policies to address concerns. New grant and loan programs or additional rules and regulations could be on the table to increase fairness and competition in ag markets.