By Sam K. Jones, The Chicago Times
March 11, 2023
ORLANDO, FL – The United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday that the USDA received $3 billion in applications from more than 350 independent businesses from 47 states and 2 territories for the first two rounds of a new grant program to add innovative domestic fertilizer production capacity.
The USDA also announced the first round of $29 million grant offers to encourage independent businesses to increase production of American-made fertilizer. It is hoped that it will encourage competition, give U.S. farmers more choices and fairer prices and reduce dependence on unreliable foreign sources like Russia and Belarus.
“Vilsack made the initial announcement to dedicate $250 million at the 2022 Commodity Classic, the same event where he is making the first awards a year later. From the start, it has been clear there is strong demand for the program and even before applications were being taken, President Biden directed USDA to increase the program to $500 million at a farm visit in Illinois in May 2022. This fall, demand for the program was immediately evident by the sheer number, range and diversity of applications. More than 350 applications came in from applicants of every size and business model, including cooperatives, Tribal communities, female-owned companies and public bodies. These applicants requested between $1 million and $100 million for projects across 47 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.” according to a USDA press release.
In all, $3 billion in funding was requested for projects that are expected to increase production immediately for Crop Years 2023 and 2024, as well as promote the long-term availability of fertilizer made in the USA. The USDA also revealed that projects were proposed for both fertilizers and nutrient alternatives, and represented different technologies, including composters, complex manufacturing, farm supply blenders and distributors.