Valuable Connections

The U.S. fertilizer industry is pointing to its contributions to enhance its image.

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Raw materials and manufacturing in the fertilizer industry contribute 23,000 jobs directly to 700 manufacturing sites in the U.S., according to a study shared by The Fertilizer Institute, Image by Elaine Shein

America’s fertilizer industry faces challenges going ‌forward, but the tone was optimistic at a recent Fertilizer Outlook and Technology Conference.

Melinda Sposari, senior manager for economic services with The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), reports the industry contributes $155 billion to the nation’s economy. It’s responsible for 495,000 jobs (both direct and indirect) and $36 billion in annual wages.

For the study, businesses were broken into four distinct groups: raw materials/manufacturing; terminals/wholesale; transportation/logistics; retail sector. The numbers include direct, indirect and supplier contributions.

According to the report, raw materials/manufacturing contributes 23,000 direct jobs to 700 manufacturing sites in the United States. Terminals/wholesale is responsible for 15,000 jobs and 3,000 facilities. In addition, this grouping also contributes $3 billion to the economy. Transportation/logistics has 55,000 jobs and a $5-billion impact on the country’s economy. The retail sector provides 51,000 jobs and adds $23 billion to the economy.

BUSINESS CLIMATE. Kathy Mathers, vice president of public affairs for TFI, notes the business climate has changed dramatically in recent years. She says consumers equally punish or reward businesses for their practices.

Mathers believes the fertilizer industry needs to focus more on economic and environmental impacts, as well as social benefits. This is especially important to millennials, as 94% of this age group believes it’s important to work for socially aware companies, she says. In addition, people today have more information than ever before and also have less trust in institutions. Trust is key now and will be in the future, she stresses, adding the fertilizer industry has worked hard in recent years to increase trust and lessen the effects of the industry on the environment.

EMISSIONS DOWN, INVESTMENT UP. Mathers cites the percent of greenhouse gases captured and not emitted by the industry has increased from 8.9% in 2013 to 13.2% in 2015. This also has spurred capital investment. In 2013, the fertilizer industry reported investments of $1.99 billion; by 2015, that number was up to $5.12 billion.

Other industry achievements include the use of smart technologies at fertilizer facilities to limit waste heat losses and reclaiming or restoring land from surface mines, and returning it to uses for both people and wildlife.

Mathers says TFI is using this new data to shape the stories being told about the industry.

“We use it in social media, presentations and for education purposes,” she says. “We need to tell every bit of good in the stories we tell about the issues.”

For More Information:

The Fertilizer Institute’s Economic Study


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