Whither the Farm Bill?  Choose Your Adventure

House of Representatives Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (R-PA) said this week that his committee will complete its work on the Farm Bill reauthorization effort to craft a new multi-year law addressing USDA programs and other things before Memorial Day.  Meanwhile, this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote a Dear Colleague letter to senators that omits the Farm Bill entirely from a laundry list of items to address in the remainder of the year.  You will note the partisan tone of Schumer’s letter that is sure not to impress Republicans — which is perfectly fine with Schumer.  Nevertheless, it does lay out a broad agenda of to-do items, notably including funding Ukraine defense efforts.  Thompson is a seasoned legislator who is well-respected by Republicans and Democrats alike, and he claims to have a solution that will break an impasse in the ongoing negotiations about nutrition programs.  Whether he will succeed on his timeline remains to be seen.  While the House and Senate each conduct business independently of each other, it is not ideal to do a bill that foreseeably cannot advance in the other chamber for an extended period of time.  Much more preferable is to be able to create and rely upon momentum to move a bill through both chambers and then to the president’s desk for signing into law. 

4R Research: Meet the Researcher Dr. William Frame

The FERT Foundation is home to 12 research projects that focus on fluid fertilizer and 4R optimization. Members had the opportunity to meet researchers and learn about these projects during last week’s Fertilizer Research Forum. Each week we have been featuring a different researcher in this publication, and this week, we’d like you to meet 4R Researcher Dr. William Frame.

Dr. William “Hunter” Frame is a native of Virginia and a graduate of Virginia Tech (B.S. and Ph.D.), as well as the University of Tennessee Knoxville (M.S.). He specialized in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences and Plant Sciences, with his advanced degrees focusing on nitrogen fertilizer management in winter wheat, corn, and burley tobacco systems. Since May 2012, he has been a faculty member at Virginia Tech, serving as the Field Crop Agronomist. His program concentrates on addressing agronomic challenges in cotton production and enhanced efficiency nitrogen fertilizer management for non-legume field crops. Currently, he serves as the project director on the TFI 4R funded grant ($874,980): “An Integrated Approach for Nitrogen Management in Upland Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) across the U.S. Cotton Belt” from 2019 to 2024. Outside of his research and Extension program responsibilities, Dr. Frame enjoys watching his daughter play softball and bow hunting for whitetail deer.

Dr. Frame’s work aims to: 

  • Quantify the agronomic response of contemporary cotton varieties adapted to major production regions to varying N rates and placement strategies 
  • Determine the impact of EEF’s on N transformations and increasing NUE in cotton production systems 
  • Measure gaseous N losses, other common greenhouse gases from common N fertilizers, and leaching of N applied at varying N application rates and placements with and without enhanced efficiency N fertilizer additives or products 

4R Research: Meet the Researcher Dr. Patrick Brown

The FERT Foundation is home to 12 research projects that focus on fluid fertilizer and 4R optimization. Members had the opportunity to meet and learn about these projects during last week’s Fertilizer Research Forum. Each week we have been featuring a different researcher in this publication, and this week, we’d like you to meet 4R Researcher Patrick Brown.  

Researcher: Dr. Patrick Brown is the Professor of Plant Nutrition at the University of California, Davis – USA. He received his B.Sc. in 1984 from Adelaide University, Australia and Ph.D. from Cornell University, USA in 1988.  Dr. Brown has authored more than 250 scientific journal articles and numerous books and is among the highest cited experts in plant nutrition, biostimulants, boron, foliar fertilizers and horticulture. Dr. Brown is recognized globally as a leader in both basic and applied plant nutrition and has served as a member of numerous scientific and technical committees for governmental agencies including US-EPA, USDA, Californian Dept. Food and Ag and the International Standards Organization. Dr. Brown is a member of the IFA’s Science Panel for the Responsible Use of Fertilizers. Dr. Brown has received many awards national and international for excellence in research and extension. 

Project Name: Optimizing Potassium Management in Almond  

University: UC Davis  

Years Funded: 2021-2023 

4R Questions Addressed: Rate, Source, and Place  

Dr. Brown’s fluid project is designed to

  • Determine the extent and causes of in-field K variability 
  • Develop cost-effective methods to identify areas of differential K demand 
  • Development of optimized K- fertilization sources and strategies, including site-specific fertilization strategies suited to the modern fertigated orchard context 

TFI State Biostimulant Legislative Initiative Underway

This week, TFI organized a strategy meeting involving state advocacy experts from Nutrien, Helena, Corteva, BIO, CropLife America, and Southern Crop Production Association. Together, they outlined essential steps to implement the plan for achieving state adoption of the biostimulant model state legislation. This initiative aims to establish a consistent definition and uniform label across all 50 states. The strategy will complement TFI’s ongoing efforts to educate and garner support from NASDA, state agribusiness associations and local farm bureaus.  Please contact Ed Thomas with any questions.

Do Drivers Need a Paper Copy of Your Bill of Lading When Transporting a Load? 

A TFI member recently reached out with a question regarding truck drivers’ bill of lading paperwork when picking up loads at plants or terminals and whether a pdf on an app would suffice.  Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revisions to the Code of Federal Regulations from a couple of years ago, drivers do not need to possess a paper copy.  Read the final rule regarding electronic recordkeeping below.  The real thing is just that you have to ensure the necessary record availability and record retention.  Electronic means of doing so is sufficient.  Just for your awareness when reviewing the document, not every reference to bill of lading highlighted because not all references were relevant.  For more information contact Tom Lynch.

The Importance of Adding Phosphate and Potash to the Critical Minerals List

The United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) 2022 list of critical minerals, essential to the nation’s economic and national security, notably does not include phosphorus and potash, vital elements for agriculture and our food supply.

Efforts to include phosphorus and potash in the critical minerals list have gained momentum with legislation being introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Supporters of the legislation make the compelling case that these minerals are essential for agriculture and, by extension, national security, and economic stability. The reevaluation of the critical status of these minerals is crucial, especially given the current challenges in the global fertilizer market.

The need for phosphate and potash to be included on the critical minerals list becomes evident when we consider that both are non-renewable resources and geographically limited. Being geographically limited means that the supply chains for phosphorus and potash are concentrated in a few countries, leading to potential geopolitical risks. For instance, most of the world’s phosphorus reserves are located in Morocco and Western Sahara, while Canada, Russia, and Belarus are major potash suppliers. This concentration raises concerns about U.S. national supply security, especially during times of political instability or trade disruptions. Recent global events have highlighted the vulnerability of fertilizer supply chains. Including phosphorus and potash in the critical minerals list would emphasize the need to develop more resilient supply chains and domestic sources, reducing import dependency and mitigating the impact of global shortages.

The U.S. has both phosphate and potash production, but expanding mines and opening new ones is a costly and time-consuming process measured in years and in the tens of millions of dollars for permitting alone. Being listed as critical minerals would not exclude these projects from environmental reviews, but would assign a single permitting agency to be responsible and streamline the process.

Adding phosphate and potash to the Critical Minerals list would be a significant step towards securing our own future and sending the clear message that safeguarding our nation’s food supply is not only an economic imperative, but a strategic priority that ensures our well-being.

FERT Foundation’s Ford West Leadership Academy Delivers First Class Results

More than 40 emerging leaders from across the fertilizer industry participated in the first annual Ford West Leadership Academy this week in Houston, Texas. The highly interactive industry-specific curriculum for this first cohort featured expert-led sessions on Advocacy, Sales and Business Development, Agronomy and Stewardship, The Essentials of Finance, Crisis Management, Safety and Security, Fertilizer 101 and the History and Future of the Fertilizer Industry. After conclusion of the classroom portion, participants also had an opportunity to tour American Plant Food’s Houston facilities.

“Eighty two percent of all respondents to TFI’s recent Industry Trends Survey cited recruitment and retention of skilled staff as a top tier concern,” said TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “The Ford West Leadership Academy tackles that issue head-on by exposing high-potential industry employees to all facets of the fertilizer supply chain and growing their technical and soft skills. By engaging established industry professionals as session facilitators, we’re ensuring the transfer of industry knowledge from current leaders to future leaders and equip participants with essential tools for professional success.”

This prestigious program which is open to individuals who have been nominated by their company’s leadership is named in honor of Ford West, former CEO & President of TFI, whose unwavering dedication and profound commitment to our industry set a shining example of servant leadership.

Ford’s passion for the fertilizer industry and commitment to opening doors for future generations was legendary,” said Harriet Wegmeyer, Executive Director of the FERT Foundation. “There is no better professional legacy for him than this Academy.”

The FERT Foundation would like to thank members of the Ford West Leadership Academy Steering Committee who expertly directed development of the content and curriculum of the Academy. The steering committee is comprised of a cross-section of companies and individuals with varying skills and experience in the fertilizer supply chain. Inaugural steering committee members are as follows: 

Roger Baker, CHS 
Paul Barr, Winfield United 
Marcie Booth, Koch 
Matt Brown, Landus 
Kim Colvin, Quad Chemical 
Mindy Dale, The Mosaic Company 
John Fowler, Nutrien 
Bert Frost, CF Industries 
Premjit Halarnkar, CH Biotech 
Mary Hartney, FFAA 
Kala Killworth, Simplot 
Josh Long, American Plant Food Corporation 
Tim Mahoney, IRM 
Sean McCarty, Helena Agribusiness 
Lisa Nguyen, TKI 
Jacob Schreve, Helm 
Sarah Terrell, Trammo 
Jacob Winans, Brandt 
Courtney Yuskis, Yara 

We would also like to thank our session facilitators and panelists who shared their expertise and perspectives with our participants:  

Session:                                                                    Facilitator:

Discover Your Strengths                                       Kala Killworth, Simplot

Fertilizer 101                                                          Taylor Pursell, Pursell Agri-tech

Major Events in the Fertilizer Industry                Karl Barnhart, Brandt

Advocacy                                                                Cameron Bishop, Simplot

Finance                                                                   Rowdy Smith, United Services

Crisis Management & Safety                               Todd Stuart, Koch

Agronomy                                                               Trey Cutts, Yara

Management & Coaching                                    Lisa Nguyen, TKI


Sales and Business Development Panel 

Moderator Sarah Terrell, Trammo, Panelists: Mike Hamilton, AdvanSix; Scott Lee, Sabic; and Kelly Davey, Nutrien


Future of the Fertilizer Industry Panel

 Moderator Bert Frost, CF Industries

Panelists: Toby Hlavinka, American Plant Food; Russell Sides, TKI; and Greg Griffin, Wilbur Ellis.


Plant Tour Josh Long, American Plant Food

The Ford West Leadership Academy will bring back this year’s cohort for completion of the program and begin with a new cohort in 2025 at a date and location to be announced shortly.

Shark Week in St. Louis – A Successful Growing Season Starts at InfoAg

Retailers and crop advisors will find answers to some of the hottest questions about precision agriculture, crop input product innovation, and sustainability at the 2023 InfoAg Conference, scheduled for June 27-28, in St. Louis, MO. The conference’s opening keynote is Troy Bolt, Vice President and General Manager for Simplot Grower Solutions, who will be speaking on Simplot’s Perspective of the Future of Agriculture and Ag Retail.

Wednesday’s luncheon keynote is not your average Illinois grain farmer. Rob Sharkey, better known as the SharkFarmer, is a risk taker and out-of-the box thinker who believes everyone has a story to tell. Sharkey’s authenticity and ability to tackle controversial issues and share the triumphs and struggles of the modern farmer has catapulted him onto Sirius XM, PBS, Acres TV, and 6 Seasons (and counting) of SharkFarmer TV.

Don’t settle for an imitation – InfoAg is the only conference of its kind that is programmed by retailers and crop advisors for their peers. InfoAg attendees can be assured that the topics they care most about are on the agenda.

Sessions and speakers include:

  • How to Make Use of On-Farm Data to Make Meaningful Management Decisions Dan Schaefer, IFCA; Eric Miller, 4R Grower
  • Blending Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers Into 4R Fertility Programs Dr. Greg Schwab, Koch
  • Measuring a Field: 60% of the Time It Works Every Time… Nathan Faleide, Earth Observations
  • Understanding the Basics of Soil Testing John Breker, AgVise Labs
  • Panel: Tech Booms of the Past: Why Some Technology Has Failed and Some Has Thrived Dan Burdett – Moderator; Dr. Randy Taylor, Oklahoma State; Dr. Scott Shearer, Ohio State University; Aman Anand, Nutrien Ag Solutions
  • Understanding the Regulatory Environment and Necessary Considerations for Biostimulants Dr. Mark LeBlanc, OISC Purdue
  • Panel: The Future of Carbon Markets Keith Byerly, Mosaic – Moderator; Clay Edwards, Cargill; Jamie Ridgely, Truterra
  • What Is Soil Health? And How to Improve It On-Farm Dr. Jordan Wade, University of Missouri
  • How to Incorporate Fluid Fertilizer Into Your Fertility Programs Chris Underwood, Alchemy Experts

InfoAg also features a robust trade show which allows participants to learn about the latest products and services and opportunities to benefit their farmer customers.

Please use the following links to find more information on registering  to attend or exhibit at InfoAg.