Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall is seeking to use the next farm bill to ease permitting restraints on domestic fertilizer production.

Marshall has introduced the Fertilizer Stewardship, Utilization, Sustainability, Technology, Access, Innovation, and Nourishment Act, or SUSTAIN Act, which would revise the National Environmental Policy Act to modify the permitting process for mining. The legislation, which is supported by farm and fertilizer groups, would also make it easier for farmers to access funds from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service as well lower farmers' cost-share requirements under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Marshall wants to get the SUSTAIN Act included in the farm bill the next Congress is due to write. His measure is one of a number of marker bills that lawmakers have introduced in this Congress to lay out proposals for the farm bill debate. 

“The United States has one of the strongest fertilizer industries in the world, but it would be even stronger if it wasn’t hindered by unnecessary bureaucratic rules that other countries don’t have to follow,” said Marshall. “By eliminating federal fertilizer regulations in the upcoming farm bill, Congress can help our domestic fertilizer producers excel against competitors like Russia and China and provide our growers with affordable fertilizer.”

On streamlining the NEPA process to allow fertilizer companies to expedite production expansion, the bill would allow government agencies to authorize private companies to conduct work needed for environmental impact statements and generally speed up the process.

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“High fertilizer prices are adversely affecting family farms across the country,” said National Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag. “Sen. Marshall’s bill would boost domestic supply to complement imported fertilizers and hopefully play a role in lowering the cost of these products. We are appreciative of the senator for his leadership on this matter.”

The legislation would make it a lot cheaper for farmers to participate in EQIP by increasing USDA’s share of the costs to adopt precision agriculture or nutrient management practices as well as purchasing the equipment needed.

Furthermore, the bill tells the Environmental Protection Agency to allow phosphogypsum – a byproduct of phosphate fertilizer production – to be used in road construction, according to a summary of the legislation. The byproduct “is currently required to be stored in aboveground stacks at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars” in the U.S., while it is recycled and used in other countries like Canada.

“By advocating for a strong domestic fertilizer industry, this legislation helps insulate our nation’s farmers against the forces of geopolitical instability and helps ensure that our food production system remains the best in the world,” said Corey Rosenbusch, president and CEO of The Fertilizer Institute.