Import Fertilizer Victory for Farmers

ITC Rules Against Import Tariffs on UAN from Russia, Trinidad and Tobago

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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After months of lobbying from corn growers and members of Congress, the International Trade Commission on Monday voted against adding import tariffs to urea ammonium nitrate fertilizer from Russia or Trinidad and Tobago. (DTN photo by Matt Wilde)

RALEIGH, N.C. (DTN) -- In a victory for farmers and a loss for the domestic fertilizer industry, the U.S. International Trade Commission on Monday voted against imposing import tariffs on urea ammonium nitrate from Russia and Trinidad and Tobago.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) said urea imports from the two countries "do not injure the U.S. industry." The decision comes after months of intense lobbying by farm groups and members of Congress to stop the commission from imposing tariffs on UAN.

"This comes as a welcome relief," said National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Chris Edgington. "We have been sounding the alarms and telling the ITC commissioners that tariffs will drive up input prices to even more unaffordable levels for farmers and cripple our supply. I am so glad they listened."

Edgington noted NCGA had come out strongly against the tariffs. NCGA was the only commodity group that testified at ITC's public hearing, and it forcefully raised the issue in the press. NCGA also engaged in an aggressive advocacy campaign with elected officials.

Kreg Ruhl, vice president of crop nutrients for GROWMARK Inc., said the ITC ruling will be good for farmers, especially those closer to the coasts who are mainly served by imports.

"With all the craziness around the world, our farmer-owners need access to all the competitively priced inputs possible," Ruhl said. "There is still going to be an ongoing chatter about European energy dynamics underlying nitrogen, but that just means nitrogen still will not be 'free.'"

Just last week, 27 members of Congress wrote President Joe Biden, calling on him to stop any import tariffs on UAN as well as reverse last year's decision to place tariffs on phosphate from Morocco. In March, more than 80 members of Congress sent a similar letter to the ITC, asking it to suspend the case against Trinidad and Tobago.

With the war between Russia and Ukraine, lawmakers and farm groups have largely concentrated their lobbying efforts on fertilizer imports from Trinidad in Tobago because they did not want to be seen as doing anything that would help Russia.

In 2020, U.S. companies imported nearly 1.2 million short tons of UAN from Russia and just under 1 million tons from Trinidad and Tobago, according to the Department of Commerce.

The ITC's ruling, which takes effect immediately, runs counter to the Department of Commerce finding in June that imports of urea ammonium nitrate from Russia and Trinidad and Tobago are unfairly subsidized and dumped on global markets.

CF Industries had filed a petition with ITC in late 2021, requesting that the commission place tariffs on urea ammonium nitrate, which is used in liquid fertilizers. Shortages and prices have since increased exponentially.

After the Department of Commerce began its investigation of duties on UAN imports from Trinidad and Tobago, import volumes of UAN fell as much as 97%.

Tony Will, president and CEO of CF Industries, issued a statement saying the company is disappointed in the ITC's decision.

"We are disappointed that the International Trade Commission has determined the U.S. UAN industry has not been harmed by the unfair trade practices from state-subsidized entities underpinning UAN imports from Russia and Trinidad that were clearly established through thorough and impartial investigations by the U.S. government," said Tony Will, president and chief executive officer, CF Industries Holdings, Inc. "Unfortunately, this outcome will perpetuate an unlevel playing field for a domestic industry that has invested billions of dollars in the U.S. to ensure American farmers have a reliable source of UAN fertilizer."

UAN28 and UAN32 prices have come down from their peaks in May. But at an average of $609 a ton, UAN28 is still about $238 a ton more than producers paid a year ago. UAN32, at an average of $702 a ton, is $281 a ton higher than a year ago, according to last week's DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends report.

See "Urea Leads Fertilizer Prices Down Once Again" here:…

See "Cutting Fertilizer a Blunt Instrument" here:…

See "Federal Judge Questions Mosaic's Phosphate Market Dominance" here:…

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Chris Clayton