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 ([email protected])

Opinion Stories

Eric SfiligojThe 2017 Ambassadors of Respect Come from Around the Globe
July 24, 2017
After a week of fun, enjoying food, sights, and company information, DuPont Crop Protection representatives and their Environmental Respect guests Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
Soybean Closeup
Eric SfiligojGlyphosate and Dicamba Facing War In-Between the States
July 10, 2017
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for crop protection products containing glyphosate and dicamba. First, in late June, the Read More
Trending Articles
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an American Pastime
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application Parameters
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Responds to Arkansas, Missouri Dicamba Bans
July 10, 2017
Monsanto, provider of the dicamba-tolerant Roundup Ready Xtend crop system for soybeans and cotton, issued the following statement on Friday, Read More
Retail FacilitiesPCS-Hammond Meets Fertilizer Storage Needs with New Dome Facility
July 8, 2017
The new barrel dome facility at the PCS-Hammond Regional Distribution Center in Hammond, IN, can hold more than 100,000 tons Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Latest News
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
Crop InputsDow’s Tim Hassinger Named President, CEO of Linds…
July 24, 2017
Lindsay Corp. has  announced the appointment of Timothy Hassinger as president and CEO and a member of its board of Read More
Eric SfiligojThe 2017 Ambassadors of Respect Come from Around the Gl…
July 24, 2017
After a week of fun, enjoying food, sights, and company information, DuPont Crop Protection representatives and their Environmental Respect guests Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: Dicamba Update and InfoAg Preview
July 21, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss reports from the field and comments from Monsanto about dicamba drift this season, Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect: Grand Grounds, Posters Parade
July 19, 2017
To celebrate their accomplishments in the area of environmental stewardship, award recipients at the 2017 Environmental Respect week spent much Read More
StewardshipHarden’s Message to ERA Winners: Do Tell Your Good Stor…
July 19, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance the Read More
StewardshipFarming Smarter Hinges on 4R Best Management Practices
July 18, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an Americ…
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
TMX-2050-In-Cab-Display-Launch-Run-Screen
EquipmentGPS Auto Steer: Innovating in a Mature Market
July 17, 2017
In the world of Big IRON, GPS auto steer has closely mirrored the evolutionary path of consumer GPS Navigation systems Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
SERA-meeting
Stewardship4R Event Explores How to Minimize Phosphorus Losses
July 17, 2017
This year the Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) – 17; will be meeting in Oregon, OH, from August 14-17. Read More
Students Soybean Field
StewardshipCCA 4R Study Guide Available
July 17, 2017
In June the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) released the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) 4R Nutrient Management Specialist (4R NMS) Read More
Soil soybean closeup
FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soil Young Corn
StewardshipTop 10 Themes from the 2017 4R Nutrient Stewardship Sum…
July 17, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applicatio…
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
corn-potassium-deficiency-University-of-Minnesota-Extension
Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
ManagementComplexity in Agriculture: The Rise (and Fall?) of Mons…
July 17, 2017
Sometimes it seems as if the ag world is changing so fast that we can barely keep up with it Read More