The world is experiencing a shortage of fertilizer. The issue is especially acute in Florida, potentially threatening food security.
And a historic American enemy is to blame, says the only Democrat in the Florida Cabinet.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Friday blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the shortage, chiding Russian leader Vladimir Putin by name in a statement from her office, in which she credited the Joe Biden administration with slotting a quarter-billion dollars for domestic fertilizer procurement.
“Florida farmers help feed families across our state, nation, and world, even in the face of unprecedented challenges in recent years. But increased production costs due to labor shortages along with fuel and fertilizer prices skyrocketing are further threatening the sustainability of our agriculture industry. These issues are being compounded by Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, as Russia is a major supplier of fertilizer components,” said Fried. “What’s at stake if farmers can no longer afford the fertilizer needed for crop production is our state’s second largest economic driver as well as the security of our domestic food supply, as Florida’s climate allows for the production of fresh fruit and vegetables in winter months when other states cannot produce such commodities.”
“We greatly appreciate the (U.S. Department of Agriculture)’s announcement and commitment to making much-needed investments to support more American-made fertilizer production and competition to address high costs and limited supplies,” Commissioner Fried continued. “I also greatly appreciated the opportunity to speak directly with USDA officials (Friday) on the heels of this announcement to share the urgent fertilizer pricing challenges facing Florida producers in the near-term.”
Fertilizer prices have doubled in the last year, which has left the U.S. in the lurch as one of the world’s leading importers.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack likewise blamed the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the fertilizer surfeit.
“Recent supply chain disruptions from the global pandemic to Putin’s unprovoked war against Ukraine have shown just how important it is to invest in this crucial link in the agricultural supply chain here at home,” Vilsack said. “The planned investment is one example of many Biden-Harris Administration initiatives to bring production and jobs back to the United States, promote competition, and support American goods and services.”
Fried has been vocal since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, offering consistent opposition to Russian war. Now she is directly connecting the war to quality-of-life issues on the home front.