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Resolutions urge action on fertilizer prices, shortages

Image credit: Getty Images
Date Posted: May 19, 2022

The Michigan House Agriculture Committee unanimously approved two resolutions Wednesday, urging Congress to address fertilizer shortages and price increases. —

House Resolution 205 (HR 205) urges Congress, federal agencies, and state departments to address fertilizer price increases and shortages. House Resolution 289 (HR 289) calls on Congress to pass legislation that would allow farmers to petition the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) to temporarily waive tariffs on imports of fertilizer from Morocco.

The Michigan Senate approved a matching resolution earlier this week.

In February 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce recommended the USITC implement tariffs over 19% 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.

Sponsored by Rep. Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville), HR 289 focuses on record fertilizer costs and the impact on Michigan farmers who need critical nutrients to maximize their productivity.

“Fertilizer prices had already been increasing due to factors such as rising costs of raw materials and increased demand for inputs,” the resolution states.

“With these tariffs in effect, farmers who were already struggling to compete with rising costs are now faced with an increased financial burden and uncertain future.”

The House Ag Committee heard testimony from multiple farmers and fertilizer industry experts, including Monroe County Farm Bureau member John Delmotte, who grows corn and soybeans near Ida.

He joined the hearing via video from the cab of his tractor, sharing the impact increasing fertilizer costs have taken on his livelihood, and asking the committee to think about the price increases in the same way they would with their own family.

“Think about your family budget and imagine certain costs to maintain your household doubling and or tripling,” Delmotte said.

“Then take that down to a scale that we're talking about. We're talking about tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in input costs. Imagine what that does to your family's ability to provide regular living essentials.”

Beyond the monetary costs for farmers, Delmotte said yield decreases must be considered when farmers face the decision of if they’ll cut back on fertilizer to cut costs.

“We are going to see reduced yields, there's no question about that,” Delmotte told lawmakers. 

“Maybe we don't see that this year, but long term you certainly have the opportunity for that to happen. So, I think that that it would be important for this committee to look at this from a holistic approach and recognize that we have businesses at stake, we have families at stake, and we also have a national food security issue at stake when we bring all those components together.”

While there are many factors at play that are impacting the cost and availability of fertilizer on a global scale — including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — any action from Congress to provide relief from record-high prices would be welcome news to Michigan farmers, according to Rebecca Park, Michigan Farm Bureau Legislative Counsel.

“A resolution isn’t a law, but instead acts as an expression of sentiment from the legislature that shows their support for action in Congress,” Park said.

“We appreciate the interest from the resolution’s sponsors on this important issue impacting Michigan farmers and look forward to working with our friends in Congress for long term change.”

The resolutions will now move to the full House for consideration.

Bills that would allow for farmers to petition the USITC to waive countervailing duties or anti-dumping duties assessed for covered merchandise under title VII of the Tariff Act of 1930 were introduced in the House and Senate in March. Michigan Farm Bureau supports both measures.

Media Contacts
Rebecca Park headshot

Rebecca Park

Legislative Counsel
517-679-5346 [email protected]