Excerpt from prepared text of Steve Wilson, CF Industries president and CEO, presented at Agricultural Retailers Association annual meeting and expo in Dec., 2010.

We are all engaged in some segment of an industry that feeds the world. I'm sure that you are proud to participate in that industry, as I am. As part of North American agriculture, we support the most efficient and productive, as well as lowest cost, farmers in the world.

But for as much good as we do for the world, some take issue with what we do or with some aspects of what we do. I believe we should not shy away from these points of disagreement, but rather we should confront them head-on, and we should find ways to address them together.

There is much talk these days of "sustainability," and our business is all about that. We enable people around the world to “sustain” their “ability” to live — hence "sustainability." I'd like to reinforce that thought. We enable people around the world to "sustain" their "ability" to live. Our products and services are by their nature designed to feed more and more people with fewer and fewer resources per capita. The evidence is overwhelming.

Over the last 45 years, the amount of land producing coarse grains has remained essentially constant, yet coarse grain production has increased by 150 percent. This is due to the development and adoption of the modern farming techniques we all know well: commercial fertilizers, hybrid and engineered seeds, mechanization and crop protection chemicals.

The impact of these techniques has been staggering on the output side.

But also very revealing is the evolution on the input efficiency side. For example, here is a graph showing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer applied per bushel of corn produced in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005. This example shows clearly that a much greater percentage of applied fertilizer is reaching the plant and less remains in the environment. Over this time frame, fertilizer use per bushel of corn produced in this country has decreased by 38 percent for nitrogen, 52 percent for phosphate and 54 percent for potash. The very positive message conveyed by this graph is very poorly understood by environmentalists, regulators, political leaders and the general public.

Our industry associations have exerted leadership in these areas. ARA is a leader in advocating precision agriculture techniques and appropriate legislation to provide incentives for more farmers to adopt them. TFI has worked diligently to develop and promote the Four Rs: the right product at the right rate at the right time and in the right place.

In many ways, you as ag retailers are at the heart of the issue of proper fertilizer application because farmers depend on your agronomists and certified crop advisors for guidance.

We know that they do a great job, and it shows in the data. But the data, such as was shown on the previous slide, and the issues are not well understood by the general population or by politicians and regulators. They are bombarded by frequent attacks on fertilization practices and agriculture in general, attacks that have two critical flaws.

First, they are usually based on incomplete science that oversimplifies issues and fails to acknowledge progress. Second, they miss the critical point that modern agricultural practices are responsible for growing harvests that sustain a growing population without increasing pressure to bring more land into agricultural production.

One example that illustrates the flaws in reporting of these issues is hypoxia. Excessive nutrients in rivers and streams lead to algae blooms that leave sections of ocean depleted of the oxygen needed to support marine animals.

Surely this is a real issue, and much of our industry's advocacy has been focused on it, with the outstanding results. But those facts are rarely if ever noted in public discussion. The issue is oversimplified down to "farm run-off kills fish," with no mention of the many non-agricultural sources of nutrients in our waterways, the good work that has been done and is being done to reduce run-off, or the likely environmental impact that would result if American production were shifted offshore to countries with less regulation and less self-monitoring.

This oversimplified thinking constantly affects legislation and regulation. Our legislators are subjected to it in arguments for new regulation as well as by popular opinion, which they must consider as a key barometer in formulating their views. I believe that collectively we do a pretty good job of addressing issues with our elected officials and educating them on the costs and benefits of proposed changes.

We must continue to be vigilant, reminding them at every opportunity of the critical and necessary role our industry has in feeding people. We have to correct legislators when they get things wrong (or are about to do so) and applaud them when they get things right. While this is true across the policy spectrum it is particularly important in the environmental area since our products are regulated at every step in the value chain, when we mine, manufacture, transport, store, distribute, sell and apply fertilizer.

Retailers Urged to Continue Explaining Facts