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Adam Wilmoth column: Indiana project may help reduce cost of fertilizer

Despite low natural gas prices, two-thirds of the country's fertilizer is imported from the Middle East in what some agriculture industry experts say threatens the country's food supply.
by Adam Wilmoth Published: October 26, 2012

A $1 billion construction project in Indiana could help solve the biggest problem facing Oklahoma's two largest industries.

The country's natural gas industry is desperately trying to create new and expanded markets for its fuel after prices plummeted over the past year.

At the same time, agriculture leaders are growing concerned about the supply and price of fertilizer, which is made largely from natural gas.

More than half of the country's fertilizer — or 10.8 million tons — was imported last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The price of natural gas in other parts of the world is trading for two to five times more than it is in the United States.

“While we have been concentrating on weaning ourselves from foreign oil — which is a good goal — we have become dependent on foreign fertilizer necessary to produce our food,” Terry Detrick, president of American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance, said at the International Energy Policy Conference in Oklahoma City on Thursday.

“When natural gas is 70 to 90 percent of the cost of producing nitrogen fertilizer, it alarms me that we are importing fertilizer at an all-time high price,” he said.

Price could be just the beginning of the problems.

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by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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