3 Steps To Safeguarding Fertilizer Sales

Security fenceJust one look is sobering. The devastating impact of war is often featured on television and in newspapers, but may not be something that we come face-to-face within our own communities. Here at The Fertilizer Insti­tute (TFI) however, we have become perhaps more familiar with the individuals whose lives have been forever changed in just a moment by the use of an improvised explosive device (IED) that is more often than not made with ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

The Department of Defense estimates that some 75% of IEDs that are used against U.S. and allied soldiers serving in Afghanistan are made with fertilizer smuggled from Pakistan into Afghanistan. This is a jarring reminder of the chance that our very beneficial product — one that provides nutrients that are necessary for human life — can also be used in a criminally destructive manner.

Recently, Lt. General Michael Barbero of the U.S. De­partment of Defense (DOD) approached TFI and the Inter­national Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) to make us aware of this matter. In our subsequent discussions with DOD, we had the opportunity to educate our military on the lessons learned during and after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing where ammonium nitrate was so tragically used.

In our discussions, we were quickly able to educate General Barbero and his staff about the necessary role of fertilizers in world food production. The appreciation they gained for the tremendous benefits of fertilizers has factored into all of our discussions since then.

Outside Of Our Control

Yet, the IED problem in Pakistan and Afghanistan are political and thus outside the fertilizer industry’s control, we were reminded of the need for continued vigilance here in the U.S. In short, the lessons of the Oklahoma City bombing, where fertilizer was used with criminal intent here in the U.S.

The simple and very common sense steps your dealership can take to secure all fertilizers are: Know your customer, protect your product and make the right call to law enforcement if you notice suspicious activity of any kind.

  1. Know Your Customer. An inquiry from new customer without knowledge of fertilizer and agriculture is cause for concern. Specifically, can he or she answer some basic questions about the intended use of the product? Your employees should be educated to ask all new customers about their farming operation; their location and what crops they are growing are good starters here. As some dealerships learned the hard way, local and even national media will from time-to-time test the system by sending a reporter to a retail facility to make a purchase. While the threat of embarrassment alone should not be the driving factor in vigilance, it can serve as a means of keeping your employees on their toes.
  2. Protecting Your Product. This is the next important step in keeping your fertilizers and other chemicals out of the wrong hands. Again, taking this step is not only easy, it’s one you are likely doing to at least some extent. Please use this note as a reminder to review your dealership’s physical security. The measures here are site-specific. Is there product that is visible to the public? If so, it should be secured. Do you have locks on your warehouses? If not, this is another easy step that can be taken.
  3. Make The Right Call. If you notice anything suspicious, you should immediately notify your local law enforcement officials. They are equipped to step in and help.

The bottom line is that although we are a world away from the troubles of war, it is incumbent on all of us to look at the steps that we can take in our own back yard to ensure that the products that farmers and ultimately consumers rely upon are kept out of the hands of those who might do us harm.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “3 Steps To Safeguarding Fertilizer Sales

  1. KEEP A WIDE FOCUS ON SECURITY OF ALL FERTILIZERS The story “Being Aware to Safeguard Lives (& Livelihoods)” by The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) in the February 2013 Edition of “CropLife” made several key recommendations for fertilizer security which should be supported. However, the article fell short of telling the whole story by singling out “ammonium nitrate fertilizer” and failing to mention that dealers should keep a wide focus on security for nitrogen-based fertilizers. As TFI asserts it is important that dealers: 1) Know your customer 2) Protect your product; and 3) Make the right call. However dealers should also be mindful of the potential for misuse of other fertilizers by manipulation as cited by law enforcement organizations in the United States. For instance the FBI has recently published a security poster alerting the agricultural industry to report any suspicious activities involving Ammonium Nitrate, Urea, Potassium Nitrate, Sodium Nitrate, Hydrogen Peroxide and other products which the FBI, DHS and other authorities may identify as security risks. These materials can be converted into homemade explosives using relatively simple equipment and techniques. Although Calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) is considered by most to be a homogeneous fertilizer mixture that is less detonable as sold, it is being manipulated for use in the majority of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan. Urea fertilizer can be manipulated with nitric acid into the explosive urea nitrate and easily transported as was the case in the first New York World Trade Center bombing in 1993, well before any ammonium nitrate sales restrictions were proposed. Other attempts have been made to smuggle urea nitrate into the United States, and the 2010 Times Square incident in New York City was an attempt to use urea in a car bomb. Although the historic argument has been made that restricting sale of nitric acid prevents illicit production of urea nitrate, research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense has shown that producing homemade nitric acid or directly producing urea nitrate is also feasible using other commonly available materials and no advanced technical skill. In summary, dealers should keep a wide focus on security for all fertilizer activities. Phil Gough is Sr. Vice President of El Dorado Chemical Company’s Agricultural Products Division (PGough@LSB-OKC.com)

Opinion Stories
Eric SfiligojWar And Green Peace
October 11, 2014
A one-time member of Green Peace recently explained why he left the organization after 15 years. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More
OpinionAl In The Family (A Tribute)
July 2, 2014
After a nice 30-year run with our company, long-time Publisher Al Strohmaier officially retired on June 30. Here, we honor his time with our organization with a short tribute article written by one of his equally long-serving co-workers. Read More
Paul SchrimpfWorking With Walmart
June 2, 2014
It's critical for agriculture to have seats at the table as the mega-retailer works out its definition of sustainability. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
Crop InputsNovozymes Sales Figures Up For 2014
January 20, 2015
Novozymes announces its sales growth in 2014 was in line with expectations as sales grew by 7% compared with 2013. Read More