The Commerce Department has issued final rulings that Russia and Trinidad and Tobago unfairly subsidize exports of urea ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which is dumped in the U.S. at below-market prices.

The rulings bring the U.S. another step closer to finalizing stiff duties on the fertilizer that American farmers say has become too costly and scarce to the point where they may have to ration usage.

The final stage in the antidumping and countervailing investigations will be rulings from the U.S. International Trade Commission on whether or not the agency will finalize determinations that the UAN imports from companies in Russia and Trinidad and Tobago do damage to U.S. producers of the fertilizer.

But U.S. farm groups are concerned with the harm being done to their members from high fertilizer prices.

“Placing tariffs on nitrogen fertilizers will land yet another blow to farmers, who are already dealing with a host of issues,” Brooke Appleton, vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association, tells Agri-Pulse. “Farming is hard enough in the current environment. Farmers can’t do what they do with one hand tied behind their backs. And actions like these, pushed by fertilizer companies, will tie the hands of farmers.”   

The ITC, which held an all-day hearing on the investigation last week, will have 45 days from Friday to issue its final determination.

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U.S. lawmakers and the NCGA beseeched the ITC last week to reverse its earlier preliminary decision that U.S. fertilizer companies like CF Industries were harmed by imports from Trinidad and Tobago. Russia — which has been vilified internationally for its war on Ukraine — was mostly left out of the argument.

While the U.S. technically has no duties in place yet, Customs officials are charged with collecting cash deposits on imports until those duties are either finalized or ruled against by the ITC.

“Fertilizer prices have hit all-time highs as prices of UAN rose nearly threefold over 2021 and 2022,” said Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra of Iowa at the ITC hearing. “Given the unprecedented volatility for farmers and ranchers over the last several years, it is crucial that the United States avoid imposing unnecessary costs that could further limit the fertilizer supply and cause food supply shortages.”

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