CF DONALDSONVILLE in Louisiana is the world's largest producer of ammonia, a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3. It is a raw material chemical that is absolutely necessary to be able to produce various forms of fertilizer, but also products such as detergents and plastics. The factory complex consists of 19 plants, of which six produce ammonia and five urea. It is a nitrogen-containing chemical compound in agriculture used as a fertilizer. Photo: CF Industries Holdings, Inc.

Fertilizer shortages could become the death knell for global food production

The ongoing energy and logistics crisis is affecting most countries in the world. Many are beginning to feel the "pain" of a shortage of goods and skyrocketing prices for mainly energy. However, another more unknown shortage, which has now emerged, could be the death knell for global food security: Fertilizers.

Published: October 31, 2021, 7:06 am

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    The production of fertilizers has stopped for various reasons and prices have reached record highs.

    Sky-high prices for electricity and transport will have a major impact on food prices, but fertilizer shortages risk knocking out large parts of global food production. The consequences could be grave.

    Extreme weather, not least precipitation and cold spells, have disrupted this year’s harvests to such an extent that it has a significant effect on global food production, which in itself creates price increases and a shortage of certain foods. In China, everything from the city’s street lighting to entire factories are being turned off while the Communist Party CCP has been trying to cover up a lousy autumn harvest. The recent floods in China once again hit Henan Province, which is considered China’s granary, seriously affecting China’s food production.

    Poor people in countries like Brazil are even worse off and already have to choose between being able to afford food or energy such as electricity and fuel. In the Philippines, for example, fuel prices have risen by almost 40 percent in just three weeks, but at least warm countries do not have to worry about cold winters.

    The latter is a real threat to northern latitudes, as last winter was historically long and cold in most places in the northern hemisphere. It may be repeated since we entered a Grand Solar Minimum (GSM) in December 2019, and it does not bode well for the coming winter.

    Food and commodity shortages have always created chaos. The example that may still be in fresh memory is the so-called Arab Spring of 2010, which started with bread riots. In countries such as Lebanon, the decline of society has also already begun. After months of week-long power outages, food shortages and skyrocketing commodity prices, the country is falling into chaos with threatening recurrences of civil wars.

    Developed countries will ‘soon feel the pain’

    For a few months now, the shortage of energy and goods has also affected developed countries and has gradually spread and worsened. An opinion poll conducted by the Atlanta-based survey company Trafalgar, which was presented on October 22, showed that more than half of all Americans were already affected by the shortage of goods. Some 54 percent answered “yes” to the question of whether they suffered from “delays or shortages in trying to buy ordinary consumer products”.

    Europe, which imports 90 percent of its natural gas, mainly from Russia, has so far mainly been affected by an energy shortage. On Tuesday 19 October alone, prices rose by more than 20 percent in a single day. Prices have increased fivefold since the beginning of the year, from 19 euros at the time of writing 96 euros per equivalent megawatt hour (MWh).

    Farmers across Europe are hard hit by this, which in turn threatens the entire food chain. An example is Italy, where the prices of methane gas have doubled, which will raise the prices of cereals such as wheat and thus, among other things, bread and pasta. This is because methane, propane and natural gas are used to dry harvested crops so that they do not rot.

    Meat and dairy products are also affected, as prices for animal feed have risen markedly during the year and have accelerated more rapidly in recent times. Valentino Miotto from the trade association Aires Association, which represents the grain sector, describes the increasingly difficult situation of Italian farmers with the words: “From October onwards, we have started to suffer an enormous amount,” Miotto told the AP news agency.

    The EU warns families and businesses

    On Wednesday, October 20, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, warned that factories in the EU may be forced to close due to high energy prices. “We are seeing a rise in prices that makes it difficult for many families to get their finances together, and we also see that there is a risk that companies will have to close down,” said von der Leyen.

    The European Commission has six stated priorities for the years 2019-2024. The first is that Europe should “become the first climate-neutral continent” on the planet and the second is a “digital strategy” where the people of Europe will have to live with “a new generation of technology”, which will transform Europe during the “digital decade” by 2030. Then at least 55 percent of carbon dioxide emissions must also be eliminated, which requires a total adjustment of everything and not least industry – which now risks having to shut down due to energy shortages.

    Sources with insight at European government level said that behind closed doors around Europe, plans were now being drawn up for electricity rationing, similar to that in China, in case of a cold winter. There are many indications that Europeans are actually facing a record cold winter.

    Epidemic of accidents

    The only thing worse than energy shortages with skyrocketing prices for electricity and fuel is a food shortage. Already in the autumn of 2019, the EU’s Commissioner for Agriculture, the Pole Janusz Wojciechowski, sounded the alarm about how many farms were lost in the EU countries.

    ACCIDENT WITH FREIGHT TRAINS CARRYING FERTILIZER. No fewer than 47 wagons derailed and several began burning in the state of Iowa on May 16 (pictured). Less than a day earlier, another freight train with 28 wagons with chemical products for manure production derailed in Minnesota. Photo: Nathan Minten

    And something which has the potential to knock out half of all food production in the world all at once, is the lack of fertilizer. As Alfred Henry Lewis (1855-1914), an American investigative journalist and author once noted: “There are only nine meals between humanity and anarchy.”

    Fertilizer manufacturers have suffered countless setbacks in recent times. It is about everything from climate-related political decisions and failed transport capacity, to natural disasters and a wave of strange accidents that occurred during the year. Around the world, everything from factories have been destroyed in explosions to trains loaded with fertilizer derailed. In some cases, sabotage is suspected.

    An example of devastating accidents occurred in the US state of Iowa on May 16 earlier this year. A freight train transporting fertilizer in no less than 47 wagons then derailed and several of the wagons also started to burn. Less than a day before, another freight train with 28 carriages derailed in Minnesota. It carried, among other things, hydrochloric acid, which is an important ingredient for fertilizer.

    The accidents with hazardous chemical substances led to both evacuations of surrounding residents and time-consuming clean-up work, which disrupted both logistics and the supply just when demand was high. These are just two of the unusually high number of accidents that have affected manufacturers and transports of fertilizers in the past year. An American train driver with over 30 years of experience commented that “we have more derailments with fertilizer trains this year than during my entire professional time”.

    Natural disasters compounded

    An example of a natural disaster that seriously affected the availability of fertilizers is when Hurricane Ida swept across the southern United States and Louisiana on August 29, the second most powerful hurricane after Katrina to hit the southern United States.

    In Louisiana, is CF Industries’ largest ammonia factory in the world, but it was closed down for safety reasons the day before Ida struck, but could not resume production after it had passed due to the power outage.

    When the news reached the market, the already sky-high prices of fertilizer skyrocketed. In many respects, the event triggered a negative spiral of rampant prices – which in turn created panic purchases and exacerbated the shortages.

    Fertilizer factories have recently also begun to close down their operations due to the high costs of natural gas, which is used in production.

    A couple of examples  are two factories in the UK, one in Billingham and one in Cheshire, which closed in mid-September. The two plants account for no less than around 45 percent of domestic demand. Industry insiders have pointed out how they found it strange that these were owned by CF Industries.

    Instead of compensating for delays due to the hurricane, CF chose to close two more factories two weeks later.

    The same thing has happened in many European countries with “too high natural gas prices”. Austrian fertilizer producer Borealis AG and German SKW Piesteritz, which is Germany’s largest producer of ammonia have scaled down production by 20 percent. The German company said in a statement that “the level that has now been reached no longer enables economically sound production, so we have to take this step”.

    This could be devastating for next season and the 2022 harvest in the northern hemisphere. Hermann Greif, a farmer from the village of Pinzberg in the southern state of Bavaria, told AP that he was shocked when he discovered that he could not even order fertilizer for next year. “There is no product, no price, not even a contract. It is a situation we have never seen before,” said Greif.  “If I do not give my crops the nutrition they need, the yield will be much lower. It’s that simple.”

    Ironically or tragically, his corn harvest does not go to food, which soon risks becoming a global scarce commodity, but to biofuels to create so-called emission-free electricity – which globalists have demanded that nation states force their farmers to switch to.

    Billion risk starvation without fertilizer

    China is the largest producer of fertilizer with 37 million tonnes (2019) per year, which is more than the total production in the number two producer India, the number three US and four Russia. After Russia, China is also the second largest exporter of fertilizers. Together, they account for a quarter of all exports. Should one of them suspend exports, it would hit very hard.

    NATIONS ARE CLOAKED IN DARKNESS. The whole of Lebanon was without electricity for the second week in October after the fuel ran out at the two largest power plants that run on fuel oil. Here you can see the capital Beirut, which has been without electricity for long periods this year. It is not only the electricity supply that has collapsed, but also the country’s currency and many of society’s functions. Uncontrolled unemployment and inflation, which have pushed up food and fuel prices, have made people desperate. Chaos and violence are already a fact. Photo: AFP / Dylan Collins

    This is exactly what happened on July 30, when the Chinese Communist Party CCP ordered its phosphate manufacturers to suspend their exports one year ahead, until June 2022. China is the world’s largest exporter of phosphate fertilizers and had time to deliver in the first half of this year, before the export ban.

    This happened after CCP has already reduced production due to “climate emission issues at production facilities”. Thus, globalists demand reduced carbon dioxide emissions and CCP reduces production so much that they then realize that they probably can no longer export. The effect of these decisions had an immediate effect on prices, as China accounts for almost a third of the world’s phosphate trade.

    According to studies (Erisman et al.) Published in the scientific journal Nature, 48 percent of the world population in 2008 was dependent on nitrogen fertilizers for their daily access to food. “This means that nitrogen fertilizers in 2015 provided food security for 3,5 billion people who would otherwise have starved to death.”

    Josh Linville is an analyst and expert in, among other things, fertilizers at the large financial services company Stone X. He has almost 20 years of experience in dealing with American and international fertilizer markets. On September 29, he commented on the development: “I have said it before and I continue to say it: This is not like 2008… it is more scary.”

    Translated to today’s population figures, the lack of chemical fertilizers would lead to 3,8 billion people being left without food, with mass starvation, mass death, war, chaos and social decay that have not been seen since the previous Grand Solar Minimum.

    Christer Ericsson

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