Soaring Fertilizer Prices Another Cog in Food Crisis

Costs up 65% percent, drawing calls for inquiries by US, UN
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 27, 2008 1:09 PM CDT
A water line carrying water and fertilizers irrigates a field of strawberries Wednesday, April 9, 2008, in Oxnard, Calif.    (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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(Newser) – Farmers worldwide are fuming over soaring fertilizer prices, the Wall Street Journal reports. Costs are 65% higher in the US than a year ago, making it difficult for farmers to boost production in response to an international food crisis. Meanwhile, fertilizer companies have reaped big profits from a cartel-based system that can leave them exempt from antitrust laws.

Fertilizer prices “defy rational explanation,” said a farmers’ union leader, and a North Dakota senator is asking for an official probe of the companies’ business strategies. The companies say the increased prices are a matter of tight supply and high demand; United Nations analysts say supply of fertilizer ingredients is “comfortably sufficient to cover demand growth” through 2012.