Changing fertilizer flows harder than it sounds

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The full brunt of the 35 per cent tariff on Russian-sourced nitrogen in 2022 didn’t just equal millions of dollars paid by Canadian farmers, it also put a spotlight on the challenges of some global trade flows.

Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) commissioned StoneX to explore the issue, and author of “Farmers Need Fertilizer,” Josh Linville, says he tried to best tell the story of what happened in early 2022 to get us where we are today — with a tariff still in place, no direct nitrogen shipments coming from Russia, and another spring season not far away.

The report, he says, ultimately lays out how, longer term, what things could be implemented to help improve the fertilizer supplies throughout Canada and especially for eastern Canada. The short-term solution is easy: drop the duty on Russian nitrogen shipments. (Details continue below the player)

Some of the longer-term improvements are focused not just on production, but also on logistics. The trucking industry in particular needs some significant attention if its to serve the agriculture industry longer-term, and not just when it comes to fertilizer access.

Many have pointed out that Western Canadian farmers don’t depend on Russian fertilizer — but that’s all to do with freight costs, rail logistics, and, yes, highways.

There also needs to be a political will to invest in Canada’s own natural resources and fertilizer production, and that may not be on the current government’s to-do list.

“We have to appreciate the fact that if we don’t continue to raise our production around the world, and again, with Canada being a very stable government, natural-resource rich region, then what where are we going to be in a few years?” he says.

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