CF Industries says Union Pacific reductions will shrink fertilizer supply

Staff Report
In a file photo, the CF Industries Donaldsonville Nitrogen Complex is shown on 1,400 acres along the west bank of the Mississippi River in Ascension Parish.

CF Industries reported it informed customers it serves by Union Pacific rail lines that shipping reductions would result in nitrogen fertilizer shipment delays during the spring planting season.

In a news release, CF Industries said it ships to customers via Union Pacific primarily from its Donaldsonville Complex on the westbank of Ascension Parish and its Port Neal Complex in Iowa.

The rail lines serve key agricultural areas such as Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas and California. Products that will be affected include nitrogen fertilizers such as urea and urea ammonium nitrate as well as diesel exhaust fluid, an emissions control product required for diesel trucks.

CF Industries said it is the largest producer of urea, UAN and DEF in North America, and its Donaldsonville Complex is the largest single production facility for the products in North America.

CF Industries said on April 8 Union Pacific informed the company without advance notice that it was mandating certain shippers to reduce the volume of private cars on its railroad by nearly 20 percent effective immediately.

“The timing of this action by Union Pacific could not come at a worse time for farmers,” Tony Will, president and chief executive officer, CF Industries Holdings, Inc., stated in the release “Not only will fertilizer be delayed by these shipping restrictions, but additional fertilizer needed to complete spring applications may be unable to reach farmers at all. By placing this arbitrary restriction on just a handful of shippers, Union Pacific is jeopardizing farmers’ harvests and increasing the cost of food for consumers.”

A Union Pacific spokesperson told the Associated Press the measures being taken are designed to address problems in the supply chain that have caused the clogging of rail shipments. 

The Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad also reportedly has taken 100 locomotives from storage and shifted some 80 crew members to locations seeing high demand.