Top Fertilizer Maker Nutrien Warns Against ‘Artificial’ Market Constraints

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s largest maker of crop nutrients is cautioning against any meddling in the economics of fertilizer markets.

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“The artificial injection of artificial constraints into supply-and-demand fundamentals never really works very well,” Nutrien Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Ken Seitz said during an interview Thursday.

The warning followed an Iowa Corn Growers Association call for US scrutiny of fertilizer pricing and the impact higher costs have on farmers and consumers. The group said it’s seeking increased transparency so growers can better understand “reoccurring” price increases.

Read More: Iowa Farm Group Seeks Federal Scrutiny Over Fertilizer Prices

While Seitz didn’t comment directly on the Iowa organization’s push, he stressed the competitiveness of the global fertilizer industry.

“No one in this market by any measure controls prices,” he said. “There’s no such thing.”

The Iowa corn group is calling on Congress to add language to the next farm bill that would “review competition and transparency in the fertilizer industry” and mandate an assessment of pricing by the US Department of Agriculture.

A group advocating for corn farmers in neighboring Illinois, the second-biggest US producer of the grain after Iowa, said it agrees that more data would be helpful to growers. “The information could provide a better understanding of the fertilizer industry and its business practices, which could be helpful in policy development,” Matt Rush, president of IL Corn Growers Association, wrote in an email.

Separately, Canada-based Nutrien on Wednesday posted disappointing third-quarter profit amid weaker-than-expected fertilizer volumes and pricing. Seitz said the outlook for the October-December period in North America is strong, barring any weather issues.

(Adds comment from Illinois corn group starting in seventh paragraph.)

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