Fertilizer Inflation Likely to Persist into Spring Planting

By Kenneth Scott Zuckerberg

December 1, 2021

Key Points

  • Growers and retail input suppliers face one of the worst inflationary environments in decades, driven by a continued parabolic rise in fertilizer prices. Nitrogen production shocks, tight global supplies, rising natural gas input costs, and steady demand are pushing up prices.
  • While the situation will eventually correct itself, our analysis suggests that high fertilizer costs will persist into the spring 2022 planting season at minimum. We base this conclusion in part on a recent farmer survey and university study, both of which place the odds of high prices persisting at 70% or above.
  • Farm supply cooperatives appear to be better managing risk today compared to 2008-09, when a sudden drop in fertilizer prices forced some cooperatives to write down fertilizer inventory. In an environment of volatile crop and natural gas prices, the key, of course, is for retailers to match selling prices to the farmer with rising wholesale costs.

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