by Debra Heine
A corn and soybean farmer from Iowa said on Wednesday that Americans can expect to see grocery bills increase $1,000 a month due to a massive increase in the price of fertilizer .
Ben Riensche, who runs the Blue Diamond Farming Company, predicted on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that the Russian sanctions, the Green New Deal, and other factors will cause a massive spike in food prices later this year, spurring more economic hardship for Americans.
“Soaring fertilizer prices are likely to spike food prices,” Riensche told host Tucker Carlson. “If you’re upset that gas is up a dollar or two a gallon, wait until your grocery bill is up $1000 a month. And it may not manifest itself in terms of price, it could be quantity as well. Empty shelf syndrome may just be starting.”
“I’m sorry, I just wanted to make sure I heard you correctly. Up $1000 a month?” an incredulous Carlson asked.
“Sure,” Riensche replied. “The price of growing my crops, or the major crops, corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, cotton are up 30 to 40 percent. They are on my farm. And most of it is fertilizer. Nitrogen prices are up three times from the last crop we put in. Phosphorous and potassium have doubled.”
“The planting season in the northern hemisphere is just weeks away. There is no miracle technology that can cut that in a half or a third,” he said. “It’s a pretty fixed formula. For me to grow an acre of corn on my farm, I need 200 pounds of nitrogen, 200 pounds of phosphorus, and 100 pounds of potash [fertilizer potassium].
Riensche told Carlson that it remains to be seen how this plays out, and speculated that some farmers may opt to “switch to other crops that produce less.”
He said the main culprit is the price of natural gas. “It’s the key stock of most fertilizer inputs,” he explained. “But then we’ve got supply chain rules that came from the pandemic, a few hurricanes that knocked down some supply sources.”
“This could kind of be described as the food crisis of the Green New Deal,” Riensche added.
Policies that have made us more dependent on foreign energy, energy plants that have been decommissioned from other power sources, and transitioned to natural gas, and that’s competing against fertilizer input stocks, Wall Street taking an activist investor role with strategic plant closures, but the kingpin in this—the worst part for a farmer—is this action that’s been taken by the International Trade Commission (ITC)—tariffs that they put in place that are creating monopolies.
Riensche said farmers now can’t buy from friendly parties that have a third of the supplies.”
In in February 2021, the Biden administration recommended that the International Trade Commission (ITC) implement tariffs of over 19 percent on imported fertilizers from Morocco after the Mosaic Company, which manufactures fertilizers used in the U.S. and abroad, filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce seeking the levies.
A month later, the ITC voted to impose the tariff, and adding similar levies on Russian imports.
In November of 2021, The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) joined four other agricultural groups to demand that the ITC overturn its decision to impose tariffs on the phosphate fertilizers from Morocco.
According to the NCGA, the tariffs resulted in critical sources of imported supplies being shut out of the U.S. market, an increase in the the costs for fertilizers, and a near monopoly of the phosphate market for the Mosaic Company.
“Mosaic, whose control of the phosphate market has grown from 74 percent to over 80 percent, is gaining a near-monopoly over the phosphate fertilizer supply in the U.S. In fact, Mosaic’s share price has quadrupled since a March 2020 low,” the NCGA wrote.
“Farmers are feeling the pain from these tariffs,” said Iowa farmer and NCGA President Chris Edgington. “We’re facing severe cost hikes on our fertilizers, and we are worried about fertilizer shortages next year. We desperately need the U.S. Court of International Trade to remedy this situation.”
Four months later, no actions have been taken, and Americans are preparing for severe inflation and shortages.
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Debra Heine reports for American Greatness.
Photo “Corn Farmer” by Ark. Agricultural Experiment Station. CC BY 2.0.