(Bloomberg) -- Hurricane Ian is poised to strike at the nation’s production of phosphate fertilizer, threatening supply as the cost of growing food in the US rises by the most ever.

Florida is home to Mosaic Co.’s phosphate rock assets, where they mine product, and to facilities where they turn that rock into fertilizers like diammonium phosphate and monoammonium phosphate, commonly known as DAP and MAP. 

Mosaic’s New Wales plant is “right in the middle of the damage swath,” said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research. It could “be out for weeks,” he said in an email.

Fertilizer can make or break crop production. Global food prices have touched records in recent months as inflation ripples through economies and hunger levels rise. The cost of growing food in the US is set to rise by the most ever in 2022 as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put a huge percentage of the world’s supply at risk.

A US duty on Russian and Moroccan phosphate producers means the nation would have to rely on more expensive imports if domestic output goes offline for an extended period, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Alexis Maxwell. Hurricane Irma impacted phosphate production in 2017 when Mosaic lost 400,000 metric tons of phosphate products and Potash Corp. idled operations at its White Spring facility for four days, Maxwell said.

Mosaic owns more than half of the 15.86 million metric tons of DAP and MAP production capacity in the US, and the bulk of that is in Florida, according to Bloomberg Intelligence data.

Mosaic’s employees in downtown Tampa and other Florida locations are working remotely and the company will alert customers of any impact to services, spokesman Bill Barksdale said in an email. The company has taken steps to protect its employees, mines, plants and port facilities “in anticipation of substantial impact from Hurricane Ian,” he said. 

Nutrien, which operates a phosphate facility in White Springs, Florida, is monitoring storm conditions, weather advisories and guidance from authorities, spokesman Richard Reavey said.

“We have not yet made a decision about operations at White Springs,” he said in an email.

(Updates with comments from Mosaic, Nutrien starting in fourth paragraph)

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