Blaine’s Bulletin: Ensuring Ag Producers Have the Tools They Need

Farming is one of the most rewarding (and the most essential) industries there is. If all goes right, the hard work you put into your land in the middle of America becomes food for the world. In Missouri 27.8 million acres – 2/3 of our state – is farmland, much of which are family farms that sometimes go back several generations. Our $93.7 billion ag industry employs almost 460,000 Missourians, providing good jobs and supporting the Missouri and American economies.

Unfortunately, just like most families and small businesses across our country, farmers are feeling the squeeze of inflation and supply chain issues. Most recently, there has been a fertilizer shortage that is threatening operations for American farmers. The world relies on farmers for food, clothing, and supplies, so the cost of all of these could go up even higher due to the fertilizer shortage. With the Consumer Price Index at a 40-year high and food costs up 13.4%, it is hard to believe inflation could get much worse but that’s the direction we’re headed.

Last week, my colleagues and I sent a bicameral letter to the Biden Administration urging the White House to revoke the international duties on fertilizer imports that they have put in place. While duties are meant to protect U.S. producers from being displaced by foreign competitors, right now the duties are only making an expensive, limited product much more difficult to purchase and afford. Along with most other things in our country, fertilizer prices are at a record high. Prices were already climbing prior to Putin’s attack, but the conflict in Ukraine has definitely exacerbated the situation. And now duties on fertilizer imports from some of our most reliable trading partners are putting our nation’s farmers in a precarious position. As my colleagues and I wrote in the letter, “agricultural producers are making decisions on what to plant today based on fertilizer prices rather than typical market fundamentals.” That means we could face shortages of certain crops or products because farmers literally cannot afford to grow them.

While providing for our country domestically is always the goal, outsourcing is sometimes necessary in certain circumstances. We are experiencing a similar situation with the American baby formula supply. I cosponsored the Formula Act of 2022 to temporarily suspend tariffs on imports of baby formula and the bill was actually passed by the House last week. And just like I supported suspending tariffs to feed babies, I support suspending these fertilizer duties that will feed our entire nation and prevent the food insecurity we could face.

While agriculture of course helps to feed and clothe Americans, it is also a critical form of national security. We need American farmers and ranchers to continue producing the products people across our country rely on every day. Without affordable or available fertilizer, this will become increasingly difficult and prices will keep going up. Ag producers are always figuring out ways to adapt, but it’s our job in Congress to give them all the tools we can to make doing their job as easy as possible. Missouri farmers and ranchers fill a massively important need, and I will always fight to bring their concerns to light and find solutions.