May 4, 2022

US Department of Agriculture launches investigation into fertilizer and seed prices

Acres of soybeans seen at the Pioneer-DuPont Seed plant in Addieville, Illinois, U.S., September 19, 2018. Picture taken September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant

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March 11 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is opening an investigation into the impacts of the merger on the fertilizer, seed and retail markets, according to a news release from the agency.

The investigation stems from the Biden administration’s July 2021 executive order to promote competition in the U.S. economy, the agency said Friday.

Global supply chain problems and inflation have sent prices for fertilizers and other farm inputs skyrocketing, limiting farmers’ ability to take advantage of high grain prices for a decade. Fertilizers are expected to be even scarcer as global markets shun Russia, a fertilizer exporter to North and South America, following its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

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“Concentrated market structures and potentially anti-competitive practices leave American farmers, businesses, and consumers facing higher costs, less choice and less control over where to buy and sell, and reduced innovation. – which ultimately makes it harder for those who grow our food to survive,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the statement.

Vilsack said in February that he hoped fertilizer and agricultural input supply companies would not take advantage of the crisis in Ukraine to drive up already high prices.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is also investigating high fertilizer prices. Prices for urea and potash are up more than 200% since January 2021 and liquid nitrogen is up 290%, the bureau said in February.

The USDA will collect feedback for 60 days.

The department also announced a $250 million grant to support “independent, innovative, and sustainable U.S. fertilizer production.”

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Reporting by Leah Douglas; edited by Jonathan Oatis

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