Manitoba farmers buying fertilizer in their home province this spring paid 33 per cent more on average compared to their counterparts across the border in North Dakota, according to Keystone Agricultural Producers.
The Manitoba farmers’ group commissioned a PricewaterhouseCoopers study on Manitoba and North Dakota fertilizer prices, which will form the basis of KAP’s request to the federal Competition Bureau for an investigation on fertilizer pricing in Canada, KAP said today.
The most striking difference KAP found was in the price of anhydrous ammonia, one of the most commonly used fertilizers in the province. On average, North Dakota farmers paid $522 per tonne last spring while Manitoba farmers paid $852 — a 63 per cent difference for the same fertilizer.
The study was based on surveys of fertilizer dealers in 12 Manitoba communities and five in North Dakota between April 15 and May 15. Prices for farm gas and diesel were “relatively consistent” during the period of the study, KAP said.
Liquid phosphate was more expensive in Manitoba with a 41 per cent higher price, as was dry phopshate (35 per cent) and dry nitrogen (30 per cent), the study said.
KAP president David Rolfe, who farms at Elgin in the province’s southwest, said the survey results were surprising even though the group had expected to see a significant difference just based on farmers’ anecdotes in a voluntary survey.
Factors that may have led to the price disparities included pricing policies at the supplier level, the size of contracts and quantities purchased, and the level of product dealers bought before fertilizer prices rose last spring.
Different levels of competition may have also played a part, the study noted. Most dealers in North Dakota sourced fertilizer from both the U.S. and Canada, while most of the Manitoba dealers bought their fertilizers in Canada.