One Commodity That May Benefit From Trade War

July 17, 2018 02:35 PM
If trade tariffs linger into late 2018, will farmers switch their acreage plans to more corn? If so, that could boost nitrogen demand.


(Bloomberg) --

There’s at least one commodity that may benefit from Donald Trump’s trade war with China: nitrogen fertilizer.

Soybean prices have plummeted since May as the oilseed got caught in the crossfire of the spat that prompted China to slap duties on American farm goods. The collapse will probably prompt U.S. farmers to swap soybean acres in 2019 for corn, a crop that’s a heavy user of nitrogen fertilizer, said Jonas Oxgaard, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York.

“If this persists, I would expect U.S. farmers to switch from soybeans to corn, and that’s a positive for all the fertilizer producers, particularly the nitrogen ones,” Oxgaard said by telephone. “Why on Earth would you plant more soybeans if your biggest importer is putting a big tariff on it?”

The potential boost from trade tensions comes as fertilizer markets are already in the midst of a turnaround following a prolonged slump. U.S. spot prices for urea, a tradable, commoditized form of nitrogen fertilizer, have surged 49 percent in the past 12 months, according to Green Markets data.

Demand for nitrogen, the world’s most commonly used crop nutrient, has picked up from a delayed planting season, and prices could rise to $300 a metric ton by the end of the year, from about $270 now, Oxgaard said. The U.S. is a net importer of nitrogen, and gets most of its supply from Trinidad and Tobago, he said.


Copyright 2018, Bloomberg

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Spell Check

Dallas, TX
7/18/2018 03:29 AM

  Given that the US is the top importer of nitrogenous fertilizers and the U.S. imports most of its nitrogenous fertilizers from Canada (according to, I'd say we're still in trouble. I mean the trade war is causing soy beans to suffer, but given that Mr. Trump put tariffs on Canadian goods, I'm worried importing fertilizer will be tough as well.

bloomington, IN
7/18/2018 08:53 AM

  Ya, because corn is so profitable. lol

Wesley, IA
7/19/2018 06:17 AM

  Isn't it great that a "commodity" is "benefitting" from the misery farmers are experiencing because of Trump and Perdue and Branstad's trade war. You are kidding, right? Cash corn is a nickel a pound. Let's go out and raise MORE? The big hog and chicken conglomerates including China's Smithfield Foods, are LOVING Trump's tramping around in our livelihoods. Biden 2020!