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Fertilizer Prices Remain “Considerably Higher” Than Last Year, as Hurricane Ian Could Worsen Outlook

DTN writer Russ Quinn reported yesterday that, “Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the third week of September 2022 continue to show varied prices. Five of the eight major fertilizers are lower in price compared to a month ago, while the remaining three are higher.”

“DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends,” by Russ Quinn. DTN-Progressive Farmer (September 28, 2022).

Quinn indicated that, “Five of the eight major fertilizers were just slightly lower. DAP had an average price of $950/ton, MAP $1,005/ton, potash $875/ton, 10-34-0 $860/ton, and UAN32 $670/ton.

“Three fertilizers were slightly more expensive than they were a month ago. Urea had an average price of $811/ton, anhydrous $1,376/ton and UAN28 $578/ton.”

The DTN article noted that,

Despite lower prices in recent months, all fertilizers continue to be considerably higher in price than they were one year ago.

MAP is 28% more expensive, DAP is 34% higher, 10-34-0 is 36% more expensive, urea is 39% higher, potash is 40% more expensive, UAN28 is 51% higher, UAN32 is 54% more expensive and anhydrous is 78% higher compared to last year.”

And in an article yesterday from the University of Nebraska, John Beghin stated that, “In summary, the outlook on fertilizer prices remains pessimistic with a series of factors contributing to elevated prices, although affordability may slightly improve as long as commodity prices decrease more slowly than fertilizer prices do.  The sliver lining is that common factors such as the war in Ukraine and high fossil fuel prices influence both agricultural commodity and fertilizer prices.”

“The Storm in World Fertilizer Markets Continues,” by John C. Beghin. Cornhusker Economics- University of Nebraska (September 28, 2022).

Also this week, University of Illinois agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey pointed out that, “While fertilizer prices have declined since spring, fertilizer prices remain high, and fertilizer costs are significantly higher than a year ago.”

Schnitkey added that, “Fertilizer prices remain high and will result in high fertilizer costs for 2023.”

Schnitkey, G., N. Paulson, C. Zulauf, K. Swanson and J. Baltz. “Fertilizer Prices, Rates, and Costs for 2023.” farmdoc daily (12):148, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, September 27, 2022.

Meanwhile, a news release on Tuesday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated that, “[USDA] Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Biden-Harris Administration is making $500 million in grants available to increase American-made fertilizer production to spur competition and combat price hikes on U.S. farmers caused by the war in Ukraine.”

Illinois Production Cost Summary. USDA- Agricultural Marketing Service (September 22, 2022).

And Bloomberg writers Elizabeth Elkin and Jen Skerritt reported this week that,

Hurricane Ian is poised to strike at the nation’s production of phosphate fertilizer, threatening supply as the cost of growing food in the US rises by the most ever.

Florida is home to Mosaic Co.’s phosphate rock assets, where they mine product, and to facilities where they turn that rock into fertilizers like diammonium phosphate and monoammonium phosphate, commonly known as DAP and MAP.

“Mosaic’s New Wales plant is ‘right in the middle of the damage swath,’ said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research. It could ‘be out for weeks,’ he said in an email.”

The Bloomberg writers explained that, “Fertilizer can make or break crop production. Global food prices have touched records in recent months as inflation ripples through economies and hunger levels rise. The cost of growing food in the US is set to rise by the most ever in 2022 as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put a huge percentage of the world’s supply at risk.”

“Cost of Growing Food in US Is Set to Rise by Most Ever in 2022,” by Elizabeth Elkin. Bloomberg News (September 1, 2022).

Elkin and Skerritt added that, “Nutrien, which operates a phosphate facility in White Springs, Florida, is monitoring storm conditions, weather advisories and guidance from authorities, spokesman Richard Reavey said.”

More broadly, Bloomberg writer Pratik Parija reported yesterday that, “India, one of the world’s biggest potash importers, is facing demand destruction due to high prices and the loss of critical supplies from Belarus and Russia.”

“India’s Potash Demand Languishes as World Reels From High Prices,” by Pratik Parija. Bloomberg News (September 28, 2022).

Potash is a fertilizer that helps plants withstand drought and diseases. Prices soared earlier this year after the invasion of Ukraine, with many shippers, banks and insurers avoiding trade with Russia even though fertilizers are not directly targeted by sanctions. The industry is also contending with US and European Union sanctions on potash sales from Belarus, as well as China’s move to restrict exports to protect its domestic market,” the Bloomberg article said.

“India’s Potash Demand Languishes as World Reels From High Prices,” by Pratik Parija. Bloomberg News (September 28, 2022).

Parija pointed out that, “India’s potash consumption fell by about 50% in five months through August from a year earlier, while demand for NPK fertilizers — the three main nutrients in commercial fertilizers that represent nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — has shrunk 20% over the same period, [P.S. Gahlaut, managing director of Indian Potash Ltd., the country’s top importer of the crop nutrient] estimates.

“Demand will likely stay flat this winter sowing season unless the government increases the subsidies for fertilizer companies, Gahlaut said.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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