WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 80 federal lawmakers, including some members of Indiana’s congressional delegation, are calling on the U.S. International Trade Commission to help reduce costs for farmers by cutting some tariffs on fertilizer.
Farmers across America have been dealing with rising expenses during the pandemic.
“Our nitrogen products have gone up almost 300% from a year ago,” said Philip Ramsey, director of the American Soybean Alliance Board and a corn and soybean farmer in Shelby County.
Economists say several factors have driven up the cost of fertilizer, including cargo costs, a suspension of Russian fertilizer exports and higher energy prices.
“The rise in gas prices has ballooned the fertilizer prices already long before the war really started,” said Andreas Hauskrecht, who teaches business economics and public policy at the IU Kelley School of Business.
Congressman Greg Pence (R-Indiana) is among those calling for tariff reductions.
“The farmers are just getting out into the field right now,” Pence said. “And they need these chemicals. They need fuel prices to come down.”
Economists say reducing tariffs would have some impact, though it would likely be minimal. They say it will probably be a while before farmers start to see some significant relief from higher prices.
“It’s gonna have a very small impact,” said Matthew Will, associate professor of finance at the University of Indianapolis. “The tariffs on ammonium and phosphates, they primarily come from Morocco, Trinidad and Tobago, those countries. We’re not going to see a big impact on the global market.”
“I think economists should be and will be in favor of using reduced tariffs to at least a little bit to a certain extent mitigate the consequences of rising prices for farmers,” Hauskrecht said.
The U.S. International Trade Commission responded to the lawmakers’ request, saying changes to tariffs would have to be decided by the U.S. Department of Commerce.