Lawmakers are calling on President Joe Biden to help farmers by waiving tariffs on fertilizer in light of soaring fertilizer costs, pointing out that Biden took similar action last month to help boost solar production.
Farmers across the country are feeling the pinch as fertilizer costs have increased this year due to supply chain delays and the war in Ukraine. The price of nitrogen fertilizer ammonia went down 30% in May, according to Bloomberg, but was still 87% higher than it was last year.
Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, told The Daily Wire over email that the costs of fertilizer “are one of the biggest expenses when it comes to producing food.”
“Any relief, including reducing tariffs, suspending federal and state fuel taxes, and boosting energy production would help all Americans by getting more food into grocery stores at lower [sic] a lower cost,” Wade added.
Several senators and representatives wrote a letter to Biden on Thursday, urging him to waive the “duties on fertilizer imports” imposed by his administration on fertilizer items from Morocco, “and place a moratorium on any new duties” on specific fertilizer from Trinidad and Tobago.
The request comes as part of an effort to create relief for farmers so they can buy the fertilizer they need in order to grow crops. If farmers aren’t able to grow their crops to market size, or have to make decisions on which crops to grow, consumers may see fewer options in grocery stores next year
Last month, Biden waived tariffs on solar panels from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam for two years and used the Defense Production Act to spark the creation of solar panels in the United States. A probe into the four nations had previously been announced in March, and is reportedly looking into whether solar panel imports from the specific nations were avoiding tariffs on products manufactured in China.
This isn’t the first time lawmakers have attempted to secure aid for farmers. In March, Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Representative Tracey Mann (R-KS), two of the lawmakers who signed Thursday’s letter, introduced a bill that would create “a temporary waiver of countervailing and antidumping duties relating to fertilizer or fertilizer ingredients.”
According to the Tax Foundation, while tariffs have been utilized in order to make trade harder on foreign countries exporting goods and uplift companies in the U.S., the cost often falls on consumers and American companies. In the past, economic experts discovered that foreign businesses took on some of the tariffs in dropping their prices, but recent studies have shown that the burden of Trump-Biden tariffs have almost been completely put on the American businesses or consumers who end up buying the products.
Alex Durante, a federal tax economist at the Tax Foundation, told The Daily Wire over email, “if we draw from recent evidence of the U.S. tariff policy, the evidence overwhelmingly [sic] that tariffs raise prices for U.S. business and consumers and we should expect similar results [with the fertilizer issue].”
Durante noted that estimates have shown how the U.S. China-trade war likely increased consumer prices by 0.4 percentage points on its own. “That’s not a huge effect,” he said, “but it’s a policy that’s also not helping either.” He also mentioned a recent report from the Peterson Institute which estimated that lowering tariffs could help bring down inflation.
Daniel Hartwig, president of Fresno County Farm Bureau and resource manager at Woolf Enterprises, told The Daily Wire over email that the end users ultimately have to pay for tariffs, “which, in this case, is the farmer.”
“As one of our inputs that has increased the most in the past year, removing any barrier to entry, including tariffs, should help stabilize markets and hopefully bring prices down from their record highs,” he said, adding that there is still a global fertilizers shortage, so the relief would probably not be immediately felt.