Purchase of Iowa fertilizer plant by Koch raises worries about monopoly

AMES — Koch Industries has announced a $3.6 billion deal to buy a fertilizer plant in southeast Iowa, and some ag leaders fear it could create a monopoly. The purchase of the Iowa Fertilizer Company in Lee County still awaits federal review. Democrats in the Iowa statehouse also have questions about the acquisition. They want federal and state regulators to investigate the impact consolidation would have on prices and the 260 employees of the facility in Wever.

Iowa State University economics professor Chad Hart says four of the top producers control 80% of fertilizer production.  Hart says, “I think that always puts up what’s called yellow caution lights within the sector about, okay, are we truly maintaining the competitive balance there or not?” Hart says the war in Ukraine led to major swings in fertilizer pricing.

A USDA spokesperson says when dominant middlemen control so much of the fertilizer supply chain, producers, and consumers “bear the brunt.”