During his speech Friday at Commodity Classic in Orlando, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the first $29 million in grants to help independent businesses produce more American-made fertilizer. Vilsack said the goal of the grants is also to spur competition, give U.S. farmers more choices and better prices, and reduce dependence on several unreliable foreign sources.
Vilsack also announced that his department received over 350 applications for $3 billion in funding to expand domestic fertilizer production capacity. The applications came from 47 states and two territories for the first two rounds of a new grant program to add innovative domestic fertilizer production capacity.
Fertilizer prices more than doubled between 2021 and 2022 due to several factors, including price hikes caused by the war in Ukraine, a limited supply of the relevant minerals, high energy costs, high global demand and agricultural commodity prices, dependence on international imports, a lack of competition in the fertilizer industry, and a lack of fertilizer production in the United States.
“I know that increased costs for fertilizer and other inputs have put a strain on farmers and cut into the bottom line,” said Vilsack. “By expanding domestic fertilizer production, we can grow independent local businesses, bring production and jobs to rural communities, and support fairer prices for our farmers.”
Vilsack made the initial announcement to dedicate $250 million to improving domestic fertilizer production at the 2022 Commodity Classic. In May 2022, President Biden directed USDA to increase the federal funding to $500 million.