The Fertilizer Industry is Ready for Business

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May 4, 2020

We are living in unprecedented times as the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed our country to a near standstill. But in agriculture, the show must go on – even during a pandemic. As farmers headed back to the fields this spring, the fertilizer industry has been right beside them making sure they have the fertilizer they need, when and where they need it.

To do this requires addressing complex logistical challenges and coordination among all segments of the fertilizer value chain from manufacturing, transportation, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. Any break in this chain could have a negative impact for farmers. The critical work being done throughout the fertilizer industry will ensure food from commodity crops like corn, soy, and wheat to fresh fruits and vegetables will remain on grocery store shelves throughout the coming months.

But being open for business looks a lot different than it did a few months ago. Within one week of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 as a pandemic, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) was instrumental in gaining an “essential business” designation from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), meaning TFI members could remain open for business and keep employees on the job with appropriate safety measures put in place. Throughout the fertilizer supply chain, from manufacturing facilities to wholesaler and distribution to retail outlets, the entire fertilizer industry has taken precautions to protect the health and safety of all employees, including providing employees with personal protective equipment, maintaining social distancing, and following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To help alleviate some of the challenges facing the industry, TFI acted swiftly on several other key issues, including the essential services designation by the Department of Homeland Security,  securing personal protective equipment for industry employees from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and adding fertilizer to the list of product exemptions in the Department of Transportation’s Hours of Service emergency declaration.

“The next six to eight weeks will be crucial to our members and their farmer customers as they conduct spring planting activities. The timely delivery of plant nutrients to American farmers is critical to their ability to produce food, fuel, and fiber” said TFI’s President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “In order to get plant nutrients to the farm, the fertilizer industry relies on a safe and efficient transportation network, including rail carriers, ports, barges, pipelines, and trucks. In addition, the ability to move products across the border to and from Canada is also an important part of the fertilizer supply chain.”

TFI also led a coalition of more than 40 national food and agriculture organizations in sending a letter to all 50 governors requesting that they incorporate DHS’s guidance declaring fertilizer as an essential service into their state response plans. As the fertilizer industry works across state lines, it was essential to have a consistent approach across all 50 states and local governments.

Throughout this time, TFI is committed to providing resources for fertilizer industry employees who continue to show up to work at fertilizer manufacturing, distribution, and retail facilities across the country. Visit TFI’s COVID-19 Resource Center for more information.

TFI staff is filled with gratitude for the role that our industry’s employees and their farmer customers play in keeping the world’s best food production system up and running throughout this crisis. It’s an honor to serve you.

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