According to Chris McGill of the American Gas Association, the average price of natural gas should be lower this year. With the cost coming down for natural gas, which is needed in the manufacture of nitrogen fertilizer, you would think that would translate to lower fertilizer prices for farmers. But Harry Baumes from the USDA's Office of Energy says the high demand for fertilizer world-wide will keep the price for fertilizer strong in spite of the decreasing cost of natural gas.
"So the weakness of the natural gas prices is good news for the producers of nitrogen fertilizer," Baumes says. "But the consumers of those products, farmers, are probably not going to be seeing that in terms of lower costs."
Doha is Still Doable
Meeting with Brazilian officials gives hope for success in trade talks.
After meeting with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's chief of staff on Thursday, White House economic advisor Allan Hubbard says the U.S. is confident of achieving a successful deal in global trade talks.
According to Hubbard, the officials expressed their commitment to making the Doha Round work and realize its importance, both for their own and the world economy.
Agricultural tariffs and subsidies have been a major sticking point in global trade negotiations. Countries that rely on agricultural exports such as Brazil, India and South Africa have asked the U.S. and the European Union to cut subsidies and trade barriers. But they want more access to the markets of developing nations before being willing to reduce domestic supports.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez went to Brazil with Hubbard and encouraged the officials to use their influence with developing nations to keep the Doha Round moving forward.
U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, attending a meeting of the Organization of Women in International Trade in Miami, said the Doha Round is salvageable, but will need some countries to step up and be willing to compromise on tariffs.