Miss. Senator Joins Letter Highlighting Hardships on U.S. Farmers if Penalties Imposed

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) has signed a letter calling on the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to oppose imposing countervailing duties on Moroccan phosphate fertilizers, fees that would adversely affect the availability and affordability of fertilizers for Mississippi farmers and ranchers.

“The rising costs and availability of fertilizers are a problem to Mississippi farmers and ranchers.  Fertilizer supplies have tightened across the country and phosphate fertilizer prices are substantially up 25 percent or more since last summer.  The ITC should not act in a manner that adds to the hardships already affecting U.S. agriculture,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

In July 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a countervailing duty (CVD) investigation into imports of phosphate fertilizers from Morocco, which could result in the imposition of duties. The ITC decided last August to continue the investigation.  The ITC is expected to make a final determination this month.

Hyde-Smith joined Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and nine other Senators in writing, “The imposition of duties between 9.19 and 47.05 percent on phosphate fertilizers would result not only in higher input costs for U.S. farmers but also potentially limit their options for applying necessary crop inputs.  Given the unprecedented volatility experienced in the agricultural economy over the past three years, it is especially important to avoid imposing unnecessary duties that will further limit fertilizer options and raise the cost of production for farmers.”

The letter also received support from the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, American Soybean Association, National Taxpayers Union and Americans for Tax Reform.  A copy of the letter is available here.

Hyde-Smith raised the fertilizer issue at the February confirmation hearing for Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, asking how he would address concerns about fertilizer supplies and ensuring reliable markets.

Vilsack responded, “So one thing I would expect to do is to reach out to the Commerce Department to determine whether or not there was anything that can be done that would put us in a more competitive circumstance and ensure the supply of fertilizer throughout the U.S.  I also think it’s important for the Department of Agriculture when faced with circumstances where, for whatever reason, a rule or regulation is impacting and affecting folks out on the farm, looking for ways in which we can utilize the tools of the USDA to provide some kind of transition assistance or provide some kind of way of mitigating the impact and effect.”