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Spreading Fertilizer

Relying on others for a critical part of your farmland’s growth is risky. Although the very nature of agriculture is risky, right?

If you plant it, will it flourish? If it grows, will the market let you make more money than you put into it? If you invest in it, will your returns outpace other options in the long run?

“Control your own destiny,” is how Matt Brown tries to minimize part of the risk.

Brown leads the AcreEdge portfolio for Iowa-based Landus, a farmer-owned cooperative, where he has spent the past 18 years.

RELATED: Landus Cooperative produces the GROW podcast, which featured a conversation about how Farm Rescue helps farm families with their operations in times of emergency. Listen to that here.  

“You know the outcome is much different when you rely on somebody else to control it,” Brown explains, which can describe what farmland operators have dealt with when it comes to fertilizer.

Fertilizer prices nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022, a huge wallop for agricultural owners and investors. Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and other bottlenecks to the supply chain clogged by COVID-19’s disruption pushed prices up.

The Biden administration announced in May $83 million in grants through the USDA Fertilizer Production Expansion Program. That represents a doubling of the resources for the program, according to the administration.

“This program provides grants to independent business owners to help them modernize equipment, adopt new technologies, build production plants and more,” the news release announcing the new grants read.

The USDA listed these 12 states in the latest announcement: California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington.

The announcement highlighted these projects:

  • In California, 4420 Serrano Drive LLC will use a $25 million grant to build and equip a food waste upcycling facility in Jurupa Valley. The facility uses insects to recycle food waste into an organic nutrient fertilizer. Through this funding, the facility is expected to produce 11,400 tons annually, which will provide domestic fertilizer for approximately 90 producers in the region.

  • In Florida, Cog Marketers LTD, which also does business as AgroLiquid, will use a $4 million grant to build and equip a manufacturing facility in Lake City. The facility is expected to produce 2 million gallons of fertilizer components annually, which will provide domestic fertilizer to more than 200 independent retailers in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina.

  • In Iowa, Return LLC will use $4 million to expand its current facility in Northwood. This investment will improve existing infrastructure and purchase equipment for manufacturing and transporting materials. The funding will help accelerate growth in domestic fertilizer production and provide support to farmers and their communities.


Landus Cooperative also received a USDA grant for $4.9 million. The grant represents nearly a third of the cost of a new $15 million, 75,000 square foot fertilizer and repackaging facility in Boone, Iowa.

Brown talked about the significance of adding to fertilizer production in the United States as he reflected on supply challenges of two years ago. “That was a train wreck for most of us in the retail world,” he said.

“You know where we were,” he continued, “We had things on order for 6,8, 10 months. And then all of a sudden, you get a call. And you’re not getting it anymore, right? You think about one of those (supply chain) links of manufacturing, and it does take that out. And we control it ourselves.”


American Farmland Owner Hayfields mountains


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