Vilsack announces more than $50 million in awards to expand domestic fertilizer production

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today highlighted progress made in partnering with farmers and American businesses to increase innovative domestic fertilizer production and in making it easier for U.S. farmers to grow food through the practice of double cropping. USDA also announced $52.6 million in awards under the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program, which will fund 17 new projects to boost domestic fertilizer manufacturing, support innovative fertilizer technologies, and help lower costs for farmers.

As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, Secretary Vilsack announced these during a visit to Pernault Farms in Kankakee, Ill., where the double cropping practice is being utilized. Support for double cropping and domestic fertilizer production expansion are part of a broader set of commitments made in September 2022 by President Biden and Secretary Vilsack, at a nearby Kankakee Farm, to help producers boost production and address global food security. The Fertilizer Production Expansion Program (FPEP) is funded by USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation and is part of a government-wide effort to spur domestic competition and combat an increase in fertilizer costs caused by the war in Ukraine.

“With President Biden’s leadership, USDA is creating a resilient, sustainable and competitive agricultural economy, which allows farmers to continue doing what they do best by growing food for the rest of the world,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “Through a farmer-focused commitment, we will continue to build on our efforts to lower costs, bring made-in-America jobs to rural communities, and strengthen the agricultural supply chain and market opportunities to the benefit of producers.”

Fertilizer Production Expansion Program

In 2022, USDA made $500 million available under the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program, to increase innovative domestic fertilizer production, creating jobs in rural communities and providing more options to U.S. farmers. Due to strong demand for funding, in June of 2023, USDA increased the funding available for FPEP to up to $900 million.

The Department received requests for $3 billion in applications from more than 350 businesses for the first two rounds of the program. Including today’s announcement, since the program was announced roughly 18 months ago USDA has awarded 33 projects for a total of over $121 million invested. USDA expects to announce additional project selections in the coming months and is inviting public comments on four projects through November 15, 2023.

Example of projects funded as part of today’s announcement include:

  • In Crookston, Minnesota, Northstar Lime LLC is being offered a $4.4 million grant to expand their operation to include the manufacturing and processing of fertilizer and nutrient alternatives. The goal is to quickly provide an organic, alternative fertilizer product that will meet 50% (of the total nitrogen needs for local row crop farmers in years 2023 and 2024.
  • In Boardman, Oregon, True Organic Products Inc. is being offered a $5 million grant to expand its organic fertilizer production plant to manufacture an incremental 15,000 tons of pelleted organic fertilizer from local waste byproducts to better serve farmers.
  • In Casco, Wisconsin, Dairy Dreams is being offered a $2.5 million grant to construct a nutrient concentration system and a pelleting system on a dairy farm to convert manure to domestically manufactured fertilizer, improving access to organic liquids and pellets. The technology will also convert one-third of manure inputs into clean, dischargeable water and is expected to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the hauling and disposal of manure.

Double Cropping

In 2022, USDA announced the expansion of insurance coverage for double cropping for 2023 to support food production and lower costs for American families. Double cropping allows farmers to plant a second crop on the same land in the same year, helping to boost production without relying on farmers to substitute crops or cultivate new land. As part of this commitment, USDA expanded double crop insurance opportunities in nearly 1,500 counties where double cropping is viable. With the expansion in 2023:

  • USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) processed 4,166 new requests for coverage in the states where insurance for double cropping was expanded or made easier. This includes 1,611 new requests for coverage for second crop grain sorghum in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, and 2,555 requests for coverage for second crop soybeans in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin.
  • In states where double cropping coverage was expanded or made easier, nearly one million additional acres were insured, representing a more than 43% increase in insurance coverage for second crop acres compared to the 2014-2022 average.
  • In states where double cropping coverage was expanded or made easier, there was a significant increase in winter wheat plantings. For example, Illinois saw a nearly 40% increase, Ohio saw a more than 30% increase, and Michigan saw a 21.5% increase.