Fertilizer Markets and Finance

On this blog I publish posts & news about what's new in the fertilizer industry and how it's markets are affected by geopolitical developments, environmental changes and monetary policies. I also focus on how farmers are affected by government decisions, and economic fundamentals of the market place. I am passionate about agriculture in Trinidad and write about problems farmers face in the agriculture industry especially in rural areas. Thanks for viewing.

Jonathan Mohan


Some of my highlighted work -
The destruction of Trinidad and Tobagos’ local banana market.
http://tinyurl.com/pne2lwv

The geopolitics and economic stratagem of Uralkali’s bombshell will change the global potash oligopoly.
http://tinyurl.com/l57nco8
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Posts tagged "lawsuit"

Two separate lawsuits have been filed against the owner of a Texas fertilizer plant, which exploded last week and killed 15 people. With 75 demolished homes and more than 200 injuries, a firestorm of lawsuits may soon follow.

The first two lawsuits accuse Adair Grain Inc., the company that owned the West, Texas fertilizer plant that exploded April 17, of negligence.

One of the lawsuits was filed by Andrea Jones Gutierrez, a single working mother who claims that she and her 14-year-old son “lost all of their worldly possessions”. The two lived in the apartment building next to the West Fertilizer plant, which was completely destroyed during the explosion.

Gutierrez had stepped out of the complex when she first heard the explosions, and her son was at church during the deadly blasts. Two other residents who remained in the apartment complex died during the explosion. While the Gutierrez family survived, they lost their homes and belongings and the woman suffered multiple injuries.

Read more at Russia Today

For decades, people have accused the potash industry of operating like a cartel to keep prices artificially high. They are now closer to having their day in court.

Last week, a U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago sent shockwaves through the fertilizer industry by ruling that an antitrust suit against potash producers should go ahead. That reversed a prior court decision to dismiss it, and set the stage for a legal battle that could run for years.

The class action suit alleges that seven Canadian, Russian and Belarusian companies have colluded to keep U.S. prices elevated, effectively acting as a “global cartel”. The defendants, including Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc., dominate world supply.

Unless it gets appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the case will move on to the discovery phase. A similar price-fixing suit was dismissed during discovery back in the 1990s, when potash prices were much lower than they are today.

Read more at Canada.com

June 27 (Reuters) - A U.S. federal appeals court revived an antitrust lawsuit by purchasers of potash that accused seven major producers of running a global conspiracy to artificially inflate prices of the crop nutrient, which is used mainly in fertilizer.

Reversing its decision in September, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago unanimously said the purchasers may argue that there was a direct, substantial and reasonably foreseeable link between the alleged global cartel and a six-fold increase in U.S. potash prices from 2003 to 2008.

"The allegations suffice, at this stage, to support a plausible story of concerted action," Judge Diane Wood wrote for the eight-judge panel on Wednesday.

Defendants include Canada’s Agrium Inc and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc, Minnesota-based Mosaic Co , and four companies fromRussia and Belarus: JSC Uralkali, JSC Silvinit, JSC Belarusian Potash and JSC International Potash. Uralkali and Silvinit merged last year.

These companies accounted for about 71 percent of global potash supply when the case was brought in 2008. The United States consumed 6.2 million tons of potash that year, of which 5.3 million were imported.

Read more at Reuters

A lawsuit filed this week claims that the Monsanto corporation, “motivated by a desire for unwarranted economic gain,” knowingly poisoned farmers that were pressured to use the company’s chemicals.

Farmers from Argentina claim that agricultural giant Monsanto, along with Philip Morris and other major American tobacco companies, asked them to use chemicals on their crops that caused “devastating birth defects.” The plaintiffs say that the corporations being included in the suit were aware of the implications but failed to warn the farmers, instead acting “by a desire for unwarranted economic gain and profit.”

In the suit, filed this week at New Castle County Court in the state of Delaware, Monsanto, Philip Morris and others are said to have "wrongfully caused the parental and infant plaintiffs to be exposed to those chemicals and substances which they both knew, or should have known, would cause the infant offspring of the parental plaintiffs to be born with devastating birth defects." A 55-page complaint filed in court alleges that those chemicals caused conditions to develop that include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, spina bifida, congenital heart defects, Down syndrome, missing fingers and blindness.

Monsanto, who is no stranger to legal trouble, is named in the suit along with Altria Group fka Philip Morris Cos., Philip Morris USA, Carolina Leaf Tobacco, Universal Corporation fka Universal Leaf Tobacco Company and others.

Read more at Russia Today

BOWLING GREEN, Fla. (AP) — A settlement announced Tuesday between the Mosaic Co. and environmental groups may allow full capacity to resume at a Florida mine that accounts for nearly a fifth of the country’s phosphate rock production.

The Plymouth, Minn.-based company said that with court approval of the settlementMosaic could resume full production at its South Fort Meade Mine near Bowling Green, Fla.

"We’re hopeful this agreement provides the foundation to continue our constructive dialogue with these interested stakeholders as we look to the future," said Richard Mack, Mosaic’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel. "It’s especially encouraging that this settlement includes a significant public benefit by conserving the Peaceful Horse Ranch property."

The mine has been working at a reduced capacity since 2010 because of a lawsuit over the site’s federal wetlands permit.

Read more at Yahoo Finance

WINNIPEG — Ottawa’s newly minted law eliminating the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly powers to market Prairie wheat and barley has survived its first legal challenge.

Late Friday, a Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench judge denied a motion by eight former wheat board directors that would have temporarily prevented the Harper government from implementing the new law, which received royal assent on Thursday.

"I am not satisfied that there is sufficient urgency to justify the consideration of an interim injunction at this stage," Mr. Justice Shane Perlmutter ruled. He will hear more detailed arguments on an injunction against the controversial law in Winnipeg on Jan. 17-18.

For now, though, the Harper government’s Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act (Bill C-18) remains in effect.

Earlier on Friday, at a rally with supporters on a farm near Regina, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz celebrated the passage of the new law.

"This feels … good. It’s been a long time coming," he said of the government’s long fight to end the wheat board’s single desk.

"First they said it shouldn’t be done. Then they said it couldn’t be done, and then they said it wouldn’t be done because they’ll take us to court," he said of the naysayers.

Nine days earlier, a Federal Court judge had ruled that Ritz had broken the law when he introduced Bill C-18 without first holding a vote of Prairie grain growers. But the judge did not rule on the legality of the bill itself.

Ottawa announced it would appeal the Federal Court decision and pressed on with passage of C-18.

One of the provisions of the new law is the immediate removal of the CWB’s farmer-elected directors, who had fought against the legislation. The wheat board is now being run by five federally appointed directors, giving the Harper government control over the grain-seller’s operations.

With the new law in effect, the wheat board withdrew as a plaintiff in Friday’s court action, leaving eight former farmer directors to fight the legislation on their own.

Perlmutter could still grant an injunction against the new law next month, when he hears more detailed arguments. But he wasn’t persuaded Friday to do so immediately. At one point in the proceedings he termed such an action “fairly draconian.”

It could take as long as a year for the Court of Queen’s Bench to hear a motion by the former directors to declare the marketing freedom law invalid.

Ottawa intends to end the wheat board’s sales monopoly next Aug. 1. In the interim, it is allowing the private grain trade to enter into contracts with farmers on next year’s wheat and barley crops.

CWB president and CEO Ian White issued a statement Friday assuring farmers that the board will continue to market farmers’ grain, if they so wish. “We will work to achieve the best prices for farmers and superior service for customers in Canada and around the world,” he said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca


Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and six other producers of the fertilizer chemical won a U.S. appeals court ruling rejecting purchaser claims they conspired to fix prices in violation of federal antitrust laws.

The buyers sued in 2008, claiming violations of the U.S. Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act, which can extend the reach of American antitrust law to foreign anticompetitive conduct that affects U.S. imports.

The Chicago-based court today ruled that Minn-Chem Inc. and its co-plaintiffs failed to state a plausible “direct, substantial and reasonably foreseeable,” link between the allegedly anti-competitive activity of the producers — all of whose mining operations are based in Canada, Russia or Belarus - - and the U.S. market for their product.

“All of the anticompetitive conduct identified in the complaint is alleged to have occurred outside the United States,” U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Sykes wrote in the court’s unanimous 27-page decision.

Also named as defendants in the case were Calgary-based Agrium Inc., Plymouth, Minnesota-based Mosaic Co. (MOS), as well as Russian and Belarussian companies. As of 2008, they accounted for about 71 percent of the world’s supply of potash, according to today’s court ruling.

600 Percent

The direct and indirect purchasers had claimed U.S. potash prices climbed 600 percent from 2003 to 2008, an increase they attributed to an agreement among the producers to limit production and raise prices, as they allegedly did in China, India and Brazil, the court said.

“We are evaluating the opinion and making decisions about what we will be doing,” San Francisco attorney Bruce Simon, who argued the case for the purchasers on June 3, said today in a phone interview. He declined to comment further.

“We believe the court made the right ruling,” Rob Litt, a spokesman for Mosaic, said in a phone interview.

“We’re certainly very pleased with the decision of the court,” said Bill Johnson, a spokesman for Saskatoon-based Potash Corp.

Today’s ruling reversed a November 2009 decision by U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo in Chicago. The appeals court today returned the antitrust case to Castillo with instructions that he dismiss it.

Joining Sykes in the ruling was U.S. Circuit Judge Daniel Manion. U.S. Circuit Judge Terence Evans, who was part of the three-judge panel that heard the attorneys’ arguments in July, died a month later without taking part in the decision.

The case is Minn-Chem Inc. v. Agrium Inc. (AGU), 10-1712, U.S. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Chicago).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — Bayer CropScience has agreed to pay $750 million to settle several lawsuits with farmers around the United States.

It was an experiment that went awry for Arkansas rice farmers like Sarah and Michael Oxner.

"When a section of the world market doesn’t accept the rice that we’re producing, it has an adverse effect on the price, and then, therefore, we can’t sell our rice for the price that we’d like to," said Michael Oxner.