- The USDA has announced $52.6 million in awards under the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program.
- The program aims to boost domestic fertilizer manufacturing and support innovative technologies.
- The initiative is part of a broader set of commitments to help producers and address global food security.
- Double cropping practice is also being promoted to increase food production.
- The program has seen overwhelming demand, with $3 billion in applications from over 350 businesses.
On October 16, 2023, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a series of awards totaling $52.6 million to expand domestic fertilizer production. The announcement was made during a visit to Pernault Farms in Kankakee, Illinois, where double cropping is utilized. The funding is part of the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program (FPEP), which aims to support innovative fertilizer technologies and help lower costs for farmers.
Context and Background
The USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation funds the FPEP. It is part of a government-wide effort to spur domestic competition and combat rising fertilizer costs, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. The program aligns with President Biden’s Investing in America agenda and continues commitments made in September 2022 to help producers boost production and address global food security.
In 2022, the USDA initially made $500 million available under the FPEP to increase innovative domestic fertilizer production. Due to strong demand, the funding was increased to $900 million in June 2023. The department has received requests for $3 billion in applications from more than 350 businesses for the first two rounds of the program. Since its inception 18 months ago, the USDA has awarded 33 projects for a total investment of over $121 million.
Among the projects funded as part of the recent announcement are:
- Northstar Lime LLC in Crookston, Minnesota, has been offered a $4.4 million grant to expand its operation to include the manufacturing and processing of organic, alternative fertilizer.
- True Organic Products Inc. in Boardman, Oregon, has been offered a $5 million grant to expand its organic fertilizer production plant.
- Dairy Dreams in Casco, Wisconsin, has been offered a $2.5 million grant to construct nutrient concentration and pelleting systems on a dairy farm to convert manure into domestically manufactured fertilizer.
In addition to the FPEP, the USDA is also promoting the practice of double cropping, which allows farmers to plant a second crop on the same land in the same year. This practice helps to boost production without requiring farmers to cultivate new land. The USDA’s Risk Management Agency processed 4,166 new requests for double cropping coverage, representing a more than 43% increase in insurance coverage for second crop acres compared to the 2014-2022 average.