USDA expands fertilizer, double-cropping programs

U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced plans to increase domestic fertilizer production and to make it easier for farmers to grow food through the practice of double cropping. The agency is providing $52.6 million in awards under the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program, which will fund 17 new projects to boost domestic fertilizer manufacturing, support innovative fertilizer technologies and help lower costs for farmers.

The Fertilizer Production Expansion Program (FPEP) is funded by USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation and is part of a government effort to spur domestic competition and combat an increase in fertilizer costs caused by the war in Ukraine.

In 2022, USDA made $500 million available under the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program, to increase domestic fertilizer production, create jobs in rural communities and provide more options to U.S. farmers. Due to strong demand for funding, in June, USDA increased the funding available for FPEP to up to $900 million.

The Department received requests for $3 billion in applications from more than 350 businesses for the first two rounds of the program. Thus far, including this latest round, USDA has awarded 33 projects for a total of over $121 million invested. The agency expects to announce additional project selections in the coming months.

In 2022, USDA announced the expansion of insurance coverage for double cropping, which allows farmers to plant a second crop on the same land in the same year, helping to boost production without relying on farmers to substitute crops or cultivate new land. USDA’s Risk Management Agency processed 4,166 new requests for coverage in the states where insurance for double cropping was expanded or made easier. This includes 1,611 new requests for coverage for second crop grain sorghum in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, and 2,555 requests for coverage for second crop soybeans in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin.

In states where double cropping coverage was expanded or made easier, nearly one million additional acres were insured, representing a more than 43% increase in insurance coverage for second crop acres compared to the 2014-2022 average. In states where double cropping coverage was expanded or made easier, there was a significant increase in winter wheat plantings. USDA says. For example, Illinois saw a nearly 40% increase; Ohio increased more than 30%; and Michigan reported a 21.5% increase.