An Iowa business that took a big blow from the slumping farm economy is finally making a recovery. In the previous three years, Terra Industries, a Sioux City based maker of fertilizer, had suffered 130-million in losses.Spokesman Mark Rosenbury says it takes a lot of natural gas to make fertilizer, so when fuel prices soared, dealers turned to South American imports. Natural-gas prices are back to normal and Terra is re-opening a plant in Arkansas and it may be making product before the end of the week. He says it competes with foreign imports of urea, a fertilizer ingredient. With American sales finally recovering, Rosenbury says Terra has found a new and different market for its products.Ammonia, the product they handle as urea, can be used to filter emissions from coal-fired power plants, and they’re installing some systems right now. Ammonium nitrate, one ingredient of fertilizer, was used by terrorist Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing, but Rosenbury says Terra doesn’t have that concern at its plants in the U-S and Canada.Terra has two British plants making ammonium nitrate, and is careful there to make sure purchasers are checked out. The liquid ammonia Terra makes in the U-S is more likely to be a target of theft by makers of illegal drugs, as it’s an ingredient in the manufacture of methamphetamine.The company only sells to dealers, not farmers, but helps work on ways to keep the supplies secure. In 2000, Terra had revenues of one billion dollars.
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