That’s the question every retailer, every grower, and every consumer wants answers to, so a trio of lawmakers is asking USDA to investigate.
The delegation of Sen. Kent Conrad, Sen. Byron Dorgan, and Rep. Earl Pomeroy — all Democrats — wants immediate investigation into the rapid increase in fertilizer prices to assure that growers and ranchers are not being overcharged.
“This unprecedented volatility in fertilizer prices is responsible for growing uncertainty and frustration among our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” the delegation writes in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer. “Even with currently strong commodity prices, income from farming is barely keeping up with increased farm input costs and, in particular, skyrocketing fertilizer prices.”
In recent months, the price of agricultural fertilizer has risen to record levels. According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service, fertilizer prices in May 2008 were 69 percent higher than they were in May 2007. And the 2007 prices represented an increase in costs of 158 percent compared to May 2000.
Beyond rising petroleum costs, the Congressional delegation is requesting that USDA examine energy and transportation costs, availability of raw material, processing capacity, domestic and global demand factors, and industry consolidation.