Phosphate: A Strategic Mineral
The United States is the world's leading producer of phosphate rock. Our nation's phosphate deposits have long been recognized as a valuable natural resource. The U.S. receives significant revenue from exporting the mineral overseas, mostly to China. The deposits found in the "Bone Valley" area of Central Florida are by far the richest in the entire country and account for 75 percent of the total production for the U.S. In addition, phosphate rock mined from Central Florida reserves accounts for 25 percent of the total world supply.
The government is eager to make money from countries that need our phosphate - but at what cost? A report to Congress by the U.S. General Accounting Office titled: "Phosphates: A case Study of a Valuable, Depleting Mineral in America," points out that U.S. phosphate reserves are rapidly depleting and soon we will have exhausted them. The report suggests that the government should set limits on exporting phosphate to protect our nation's supply. However, every year the phosphate industry wins petitions for new mining permits after they have exhausted the resources at their current sites.
The GAO report says that phosphate is an essential plant nutrient, for which there is no substitute. That means, it's a nutrient that is critical to the thriving U.S. agriculture industry. When our own reserves are depleted, we will be dependent on other countries like China and Morocco to provide phosphate to us. We hope they will be as generous, because without it, our food supply and the United States' position in the global economy will be seriously threatened. We are exporting a strategic and limited natural resource today at the risk of our future food supplies.
A safe, dependable food supply is essential for the health of the nation's economy. Exporting phosphate today creates a risk for tomorrow.