The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) announced its policy advocacy priorities for 2014. Critical areas of focus, as identified by TFI’s Executive Committee, include nutrients in the environment, safety and security, energy and greenhouse gas emissions as well as transportation. Each issue is of critical importance to the fertilizer industry’s ability to provide farmers with the nutrients necessary to produce food and fiber for a growing population.
“These issues serve as guideposts as we develop and implement strategies for addressing Congressional and regulatory challenges,” said TFI President Chris Jahn. “We have already hit the ground running to ensure that the industry speaks with a strong and effective voice in 2014.”
Policy regarding nutrients in the environment is frequently misguided and often ignores the tremendous strides that farmers are making to efficiently use fertilizers. With the help of site-specific 4R nutrient stewardship (use of the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, the right time and in the right place), farmers are using fertilizer with the greatest efficiency in history. Policy proposals calling for across the board nutrient reductions lack a scientific basis and can impede the environmentally and economically sound use of fertilizers.
Several TFI initiatives aimed at protecting workers and communities by maintaining safe and secure operations will continue in 2014. Availability of an online retail compliance assessment tool and promotion of best practices and guidelines for fertilizer storage sale and handling will continue to receive strong support from TFI. The Institute will also continue to urge the Department of Homeland Security to finalize its ammonium nitrate security rule.
The potential impact of greenhouse gas emission policies is of utmost concern to the fertilizer industry. With the cost of natural gas comprising between 70 and 90 percent of the cost of producing nitrogen fertilizer, TFI will oppose any policy that encourages fuel switching from coal to natural gas as it could seriously impact the cost and supply of natural gas, and correspondingly, the domestic production of nitrogen.
Whether by rail, truck or barge, the efficient transportation of more than 70 million tons of fertilizer each year is crucial to growers and their ultimate customers, U.S. consumers. The unpredictability of weather often creates a very narrow window for planting, and for this reason, farmers rely upon just-in-time delivery of fertilizer nutrients. As such, threats to the continued rail transportation of anhydrous ammonia or movement of fertilizer on the nation’s river system will be met with a swift response from TFI.
“Fertilizer producers, wholesalers and retailers help farmers grow nutritious food, contribute to the economy by employing people in high value jobs and help farmers grow more food in an environmentally sustainable way,” Jahn said. “We will ensure that policymakers are reminded of these contributions as we promote and protect the industry in 2014 and beyond.”