Catching Up With The Fertilizer Institute

On a recent visit to Arlington, VA, CropLife® magazine had the chance to catch up with an old industry friend, Kathy Mathers, Vice President of Public Affairs at The Fertilizer Institute (TFI). As fate would have it, TFI is in the middle of many major changes to the myriad educational properties and events that it manages each year.

First and foremost, in July, TFI announced the consolidation of several industry-supported organizations into the FERT Foundation. This will be dedicated to ensuring that education, research, and training that has operated separately in the past is conducted under a single umbrella. The new foundation will bring the work of the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation (FFF), Foundation for Agronomic Research (FAR), and Nutrients for Life Foundation (NFLF) together.


“We approached the leaders of these groups and asked them ‘wouldn’t it be better to have all fertilizer education, research, and training under one umbrella?” said Mathers. “They all agreed.”

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The three pillars of new FERT Foundation are fertilizer education, research, and training. Fertilizer education will continue under the Nutrients for Life program name. Training will operate under the Ford West Leadership Academy. Research will combine priorities of FFF and FAR. The new Foundation will be a separate 501(c)3 organization, and will be a private foundation, with TFI members directing its activity.

Speaking of the Ford West Leadership Academy, the first one of these will be held January 15-18, 2024, in Houston, TX. “This event is for promising leaders in the fertilizer industry,” said Mathers. “It will provide them with a 360-degree view of industry basics as well as help build their professional development.” Further details on the 2024 Ford West Leadership Academy, including a preliminary schedule and registration information, are available at

The Biostimulants Effort

Other news from TFI involves the biostimulants marketplace. On June 26, TFI officially announced that it was introducing the Certified Biostimulants Program. This is a voluntary evidence-based program that will award biostimulant companies a label indicating that their products meet industry recognized standards for efficacy, safety, and composition. The program is based on the U.S. Biostimulant Industry Guidelines.

According to Ed Thomas, Vice President of Government Affairs at TFI, the program is meant to help ag retailers and growers know that biostimulant manufacturers have followed scientific protocols before bringing their product to market.

Starting in 2024, TFI will launch the Agronomy Conference & Expo, replacing the InfoAg Conference.

“This is built around the need of ag retailers for TFI to step up to the plate and vet these products,” said Thomas at the program launch announcement in St. Louis, MO. “We want to help ag retailers with the onslaught of biostimulant products coming across their desks every year and get these down to a more manageable level.”

TFI has begun accepting applications for the Certified Biostimulants Program. The initial cost for a product review will be $1,800, with a $750 renewal fee applied at the two-year mark. Products that are approved will be provided with a label for companies to use on their biostimulant product packaging and materials.

The final bit of TFI news involves one of the association’s trade events. Starting in 2024, the association will launch the Agronomy Conference & Expo, replacing the InfoAg Conference. This will occur in St. Louis, at the Union Station Hotel from August 12-14. According to TFI, this new show will tie back to the association’s efforts to “serve the ag retail community by widening the scope of the event to include all aspects that impact a retail agronomist, including such sectors as crop inputs and biologicals as well as technology.”

More information on these and other TFI programs and events can be found at