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BARTOW – Mosaic staff may stop manufacturing fertilizer at their Bartow plant through at least 2020, according to a December 19 press release.

Contrary to other reports, Mosaic Public Affairs Manager Jackie Barron said the fertilizer production shutdown in Bartow is not planned to be permanent and production may resume when market prices change.

Barron said the decision had nothing to do with problems at the Bartow plant in 2019.

“This is in no way tied to the seepage issue or recent critical condition report,” Barron said. “Mother nature was not kind to agriculture in 2019, with extreme weather conditions impacting the spring planting season and the months thereafter. We are idling operations at Bartow until market conditions improve which we expect to happen in early 2020. Until that time, Bartow employees will continue to report to work as usual with a focus on extended maintenance.”

Between December 2018 and now, four sets of cracks appeared near the peak of the gypstack in Bartow and liquid from an unknown source has been continuously seeping from the ground near the base of the gypstack in Bartow since October. Mosaic staff alerted state regulators with each instance.

Some of the public documents associated with these reports state the synthetic liner in the Bartow gypstack and a nearby containment pond may be the cause of the problems, but no official cause has been determined.

Mosaic staff recently started using a special dye to try and determine the source of the seepage at the base of the Bartow gypstack, which has slowed from an initial 100 gallons per minute in October to around 25 gallons per minute of seepage currently.

Mosaic Phosphates Public and Government Affairs Director Callie Neslund said the 360 employees at the plant will not lose their jobs and that, after fertilizer production goes idle, the employees will shift focus from production to maintenance at the plant.

According to NOLA.com, last year Mosaic staff idled fertilizer facilities in Louisiana, after a bulge in a gypstack near New Orleans was reported to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Mosaic staff said market rates are the cause of the reduction, not problems at certain gypstacks, and that potash production is also being reduced at Canadian facilities due to market conditions.

Neslund said the only phosphate production facility in Central Florida where fertilizer production will go idle is the Bartow facility and that there are no planned changes at any other Mosaic Central Florida facilities.

“A third consecutive disappointing application season in North America has led to continuing high inventories and price weakness. Mosaic will not produce at high rates when we are unable to realize reasonable prices,” said President and CEO Joc O’Rourke. “We believe our extended production curtailments will contribute to balancing the global supply-and-demand picture as we move into 2020. With fertilizer-depleted soils and rising agricultural commodity prices, we continue to expect robust demand and strong business conditions in the year ahead.”

Contact Charles A. Baker III at cbaker@d-r.media.