Testimony in Support of HB 1546
Joint Policy Committee
October 23, 2023
Chairman Thomas and members of the committee,
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of House Bill No. 1546. My name is Matt Perdue; I am the Government Relations Director for North Dakota Farmers Union. I am delivering this testimony today on behalf of a coalition of nine agricultural organizations.
North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers use over 700,000 metric tons of fertilizer annually. Our state’s current nitrogen production capacity is only half that demand, leaving our state’s farmers to rely heavily on fertilizer produced outside the state. Moreover, nitrogen demand is growing.
From 1987 to 2017, nitrogen use in North Dakota increased by 143%. Global demand for ammonia is also expected to increase by 40% by 2050 to meet higher food demand for a growing world population. Our organizations support HB 1546, because it will strengthen the resilience of North Dakota agriculture. Over the last several years, global supply chain disruptions have caused fertilizer prices to skyrocket. From late 2021 through early 2023, nitrogen fertilizer prices were more than double the five-year average.
While the markets slowly calmed through much of 2023, they have recently spiked due to low water levels on the Mississippi River, challenges with rail delivery and global conflicts.
North Dakota is at the end of the fertilizer supply chain, which results in even greater price volatility, frequent supply shortages and higher prices for producers. In fact, the Northern Plains ammonia price is commonly 50% higher than the price in the U.S. Gulf. Increasing in-state fertilizer production will help ensure a more stable and more affordable fertilizer supply.
Finally, HB 1546 creates new synergies between our state’s two largest industries: agriculture and energy. The legislation would position us as a leader in emerging clean hydrogen markets and help farmers meet growing demand for lower carbon commodities. HB 1546 supports value-added agriculture and energy and enhances profitability for North Dakota farmers.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. We respectfully request a “Do Pass“ recommendation
on HB 1546.