116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa agriculture groups are calling on President Joe Biden to lift tariffs on fertilizer products, which the groups say are driving up prices and hurting farmers and consumers.
In a letter this week, three ag groups — the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Growers Association and the National Corn Growers Association — urged Biden to remove or reduce tariffs on imports of phosphate fertilizers from Morocco.
The U.S. International Trade Commission imposed a 20 percent tariff — that is, a tax on imports — on phosphate fertilizer from Morocco in 2021 after a request from American producer Mosaic Co., which said it was harmed by government subsidies on Moroccan exports.
Now, with skyrocketing prices of fertilizer creating financial concerns for farmers, farm groups want those tariffs removed.
While high commodity prices kept most farmers from going into the red this year, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President Brent Johnson said sustained high prices of fertilizer could impact planting decisions and yield volumes in the future.
“If we need to make some adjustments because of fertilizer prices, that's going to potentially reduce some production when we're talking about food security issues on a worldwide basis,” Johnson said.
Prices for urea, potash, phosphate and other fertilizers reached record highs in the spring planting season due to a combination of factors, including high natural gas prices, international shortages and export caps and the war in Ukraine.
Prices fell some in June, according to a report from Progressive Farmer.
Johnson said he and other Iowa Farm Bureau members met with Iowa’s congressional leaders and officials in Biden’s administration this week to discuss concerns around input prices. He said the administration has been receptive to the idea.
“The meetings that we’ve had so far, they’ve gone quite well,” Johnson said. “And so time will tell. We’re hopeful at this point.”
Johnson said he’s hoping Biden lifts the tariff in a similar way to tariffs that were paused on solar panels from Southeast Asia last month. In that instance, Biden used national security reasons to lift the tariffs, and farm groups said high input prices could be considered the same way.
“It’s my opinion, I think it's a widely shared opinion, that food is closer tied to national security than solar panel electrical generation is,” Johnson said.
Lance Lillibridge of rural Vinton, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, said the tariffs created an unfair market for farmers and did not keep the price of domestically manufactured fertilizers down.
“When you have a company that wants to participate globally in the marketplace … but then asked for tariffs to be applied to imports coming into the United States to protect their market domestically, that's not a fair market,” he said.
The request from the groups came about a week after the U.S. International Trade Commission decided not to increase duties on urea ammonium nitrate from Trinidad and Tobago and Russia. Farm groups lobbied against adding those tariffs as well.,
The farm groups join a growing list of politicians and groups urging the administration to pause or remove fertilizer tariffs.
In mid-July, Iowa’s U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both Republicans, and Republican Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Randy Feenstra, signed onto a letter calling on Biden to waive the same imports. U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, a Democrat, joined the same representatives in a similar request in March.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Grassley said he’s urged the commerce department to take tariffs off phosphate imports from Morocco, and he also applauded the International Trade Commission’s decision not to add duties on imports from Trinidad and Tobago and Russia.
“I’m very sympathetic to what they’re trying to do, and there are some government policies that are keeping fertilizer prices abnormally high,” Grassley said.