A handful of GOP members of the Senate Ag Committee are asking the Biden administration to list a pair of key agricultural inputs as critical minerals.

The letter, led by Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall and co-signed by six other committee Republicans, calls on the U.S. Geological Survey to include potash and phosphate on the 2021 List of Critical Minerals. They cite the role both inputs play as agricultural fertilizers and “without fertilizer, American agricultural yields will quickly suffer and so too will Americans who have long enjoyed affordable food prices.”

“The rising cost of fertilizer will not only increase food insecurity domestically and abroad, but that increase in hunger and starvation will increase geopolitical tension across the world,” the letter notes. “Both potash and phosphate serve as essential components to the agricultural supply chain due to their role as crop nutrients and should be included in the 2021 list of critical minerals.”

According to the letter, potash has been on the critical minerals list, but not phosphate.

Under the law defining critical minerals, three criteria are to be met: a mineral must be essential to the economic or national security of the U.S., its supply chain must be vulnerable to disruption, and the mineral must serve an essential function in the manufacturing of a product.

“While much of [the Department of the Interior's] critical mineral list is focused on defense and high technology needs, agricultural minerals are underrepresented and should not be overlooked,” the letter says.

The designation would not necessarily protect the mineral from tariffs like those levied earlier this year by the International Trade Commission, but could be used by the administration to consider future duties or to help build up a domestic industry. 

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