Fertilizer poses public relations challenge for US farmers

07 February 2012 21:08  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN DIEGO, California (ICIS)--The use of fertilizer and its environmental impact will pose the next big public relations challenge for the agricultural industry, the top executive of the California Farm Bureau Federation said on Tuesday.

"Agriculture has seen challenges from environmental and animal rights groups and now will have to address the challenges from those who would seek to strictly manage the use of fertilizers by farmers,” said California Farm Bureau president Paul Wenger in a presentation to more than 700 delegates at The Fertilizer Institute's (TFI) annual marketing conference in San Diego.

"In California, and elsewhere in the US, a concern by environmental groups about the amount of nitrates from nitrogen fertilizers leaching into groundwater and running off from fields into rivers and lakes will result in government-mandated nutrient management plans," Wenger said.

Wenger encouraged the fertilizer industry to join forces with other agricultural industry groups to fight new regulations on nutrient use that are already in the regulatory pipeline.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already proposed a state-wide nutrient management plan in Florida and is also seeking to limit the amount of nitrates and other plant nutrients that find their way into Chesapeake Bay.

On behalf of the fertilizer industry, the TFI has taken the EPA to court in Florida to halt the imposition of a state-wide nutrient management plan, said TFI board chairman Robert Jornayvaz of Intrepid Potash.

“Weather and fickle markets are not the biggest challenge to agriculture," Wenger said. "The biggest challenge is unnecessary regulations."

Wenger urged the fertilizer industry to join with other agricultural groups in a National Farm Alliance to combat detrimental regulations.

"Working together, we must learn what consumers want and how we can best respond to them," Wenger said.

By: Frank Zaworski
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