Farmers call on US Department of Justice to investigate soaring fertilizer prices

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Dec. 8 (Reuters) – Farmers have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether recent spikes in fertilizer prices are attributable to market manipulation by fertilizer companies, according to a letter sent by the Fertilizer on Wednesday. Family Farm Action Alliance.

The group, which has more than 6,000 farmers and rural members, alleges that fertilizer companies set prices “not on the basis of basic supply and demand, but rather on the price that the farmer is. paid for its staple crops “.

Global fertilizer prices have hit record highs this year, in part because of soaring prices for the natural gas used to produce them and severe storms in the United States that disrupted production.

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But the farm group alleges that fertilizer companies could also raise prices in response to high raw material prices.

Since the 1980s, the consolidation of the US fertilizer industry has reduced the sector from 46 to 13. Two companies, Nutrien Ltd (NTR.TO) and Mosaic Co (MOS.N), control 93% of the North American market. of potash, according to a 2020 Federal Trade Commission report. The other dominant companies are Yara-USA (YAR.OL) and CF Industries (CF.N).

“There is potential in the way this industry is structured to really exploit farmers,” said Dr. Philip Howard, associate professor at Michigan State University and an expert in food industry consolidation.

Ben Pratt, senior vice president of public affairs at Mosaic, denied that fertilizer companies set prices and said the current rise is due to “the reduction in exports from some countries, including China, and the strong global demand, among many factors “.

The other three major fertilizer companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The DOJ also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Biden administration has pledged to take action to consolidate the agricultural sector, which farmers say is reducing their profits.

The DOJ recently investigated allegations of pricing by the largest poultry companies, leading to several indictments, and price manipulation in the livestock market.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently said his department would also be looking at seed patents.

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Reporting by Leah Douglas; Editing by Aurora Ellis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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