The U.S. fertilizer industry is one of the world’s largest. The United States is the fourth-largest producer of nitrogen-based fertilizers in the world and the second largest producer of phosphate3. The U.S. fertilizer industry generates more than $139 billion in economic benefit and provides more than 80,000 direct jobs and 370,000 indirect jobs for a total of more than 450,000 U.S. jobs4.
In 2015, 14 participating companies made $5.12 billion in capital investments. Whether purchasing equipment, building a new plant, or improving an existing facility, these investments do more than help companies operate. Each dollar spent strengthens the U.S. economy and the financial well-being of individual communities. What’s more, investments that improve infrastructure often have positive impacts on safety, environmental, and energy performance.
The fertilizer industry is committed to safety at and beyond the confines of its facilities and distribution networks. Companies in the industry actively promote safety in the communities in which they operate. In the unlikely event that an accident occurs, local emergency responders may be called upon to assist. For this reason, fertilizer companies regularly conduct emergency preparedness exercises to educate and train first responders and others about potential incidents, prevention, and mitigation measures.
From global entities to small and medium sized retail businesses, the fertilizer industry consists of companies of all sizes. Although regulatory compliance can be time-consuming and complex for small businesses, the fertilizer industry is united in its commitment to ensure that safety and security throughout the value chain are top priorities.
Following the 2013 explosion at a small fertilizer retailer in West, Texas, TFI and the Agricultural Retailers Association formed ResponsibleAg to help all retailers assess and address safety and security issues. ResponsibleAg operates as an independent certifying organization that provides retail agribusinesses a federal regulatory compliance assessment and educational resources related to the safe storage and handling of fertilizers.
Participating facilities receive an assessment by a credentialed ResponsibleAg auditor once every three years. Up to 17 areas (dry fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, shop, office, and grounds, for example) of a facility are assessed by the auditor. Education is a key component of ResponsibleAg’s mission. If the auditor identifies compliance issues, the facility will receive a corrective action plan, information on how to correct outstanding issues, and a recommended timeframe for action. Certification may not be obtained until all outstanding issues are addressed.
Knowledgeable auditors are the cornerstone of the ResponsibleAg initiative. In order to assure excellence and consistency, all auditors are required to successfully complete a rigorous ResponsibleAg training course.
OSHA requires companies to report safety data, which is then aggregated into nationwide safety statistics by sector. The employee safety graphics show how the 13 fertilizer companies participating in this metric are performing more safely than their sector’s national average. Fertilizer manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers experience fewer than one-half the safety incidents of their peers in the chemical manufacturing and merchant wholesaler industries when comparing available OSHA’s safety data5.
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2016 Fertilizer State of the Industry Report PDF