Dozens of national and state agricultural groups are beseeching the Biden administration to consider high fertilizer costs that are weighing down farmers as the International Trade Commission and Commerce Department weigh their options on continuing to levy duties on imports of Moroccan phosphate products.

The National Corn Growers Association, together with 62 other farm groups, sent a letter Thursday to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to “consider the impact of phosphate duties” on Moroccan imports from the company OCP as the department responds to a recent decision by the U.S. Court of International Trade that found fault with Commerce’s calculations.

The American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cotton Council, California Citrus Mutual, International Fresh Produce Association, Northwest Horticultural Council and U.S. Rice Producers Association are just some of the groups that signed on to the letter that was reported on initially by Agri-Pulse Wednesday.

“When tariffs are placed on crop inputs, U.S. farmers pay the price,” NCGA President Harold Wolle said in a statement to Agri-Pulse. “In this case, there is not adequate domestic supply to meet demand, and the U.S. placed duties on imported fertilizers that have historically bridged this gap. This not only drives up the prices for these crucial products, but in some cases, it has cut off the supply of the products altogether. We hope the Commerce Department will consider the arguments in our letter and ultimately decide to eliminate the duties on phosphate fertilizers being imported from Morocco.”

But the U.S. Court of International Trade also handed down a recent ruling that found fault with the International Trade Commission’s 2021 decision that imports of Moroccan phosphates are doing harm to American producers like Mosaic. The ITC is now reconsidering the decision on harm from imports that eventually resulted in Commerce slapping a 20% duty on Moroccan phosphates and OCP halting most exports to the U.S. Commerce recently reduced that duty to about 14%.

“The bottom line for soybean farmers is that the Court of International Trade’s remands back to the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission provide an opportunity for the bottom lines of farmers to be reconsidered, along with other factors that they didn’t,” American Soybean Association CEO Steve Censky tells Agri-Pulse. “We believe that the domestic phosphate industry is not being harmed by imports. Real world conditions are very different today.”

OCP shipped 1.8 million metric tons of phosphate products to the U.S. in 2019, before the Commerce began levying duties on imports, according to data from the company.

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“Farmers and ranchers across the United States are committed to producing crops that meet both domestic and global demands, which require timely access to affordable fertilizer options,” the farm groups said in the letter to Raimondo. “Should another input source become obsolete, farmers will be forced to incur unsustainable costs, delays, and limited availability which negatively impact yields. American agriculture must have market access to compete globally, and a major impediment like a fertilizer duty only undermines the ability to establish and expand markets.”

And NAWG CEO Chandler Goule tells Agri-Pulse that fertilizer is one of the “largest expenses on any commercial farming operation. NAWG believes the Department of Commerce needs to reconsider the duty rate calculation as it examines the impact of phosphate duties. High costs have continued to strain farming operations, and lack of access and increased costs would have a ripple effect as producers would have cut back on fertilizer.”