Ag fertilizer sales to be subject to Homeland Security monitoring

By Vickie Buchanan

In 2008, Congress directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “regulate the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate by an ammonium nitrate facility … to prevent the misappropriation or use of ammonium nitrate in an act of terrorism.” Ammonium nitrate is a chemical manufactured in varying concentrations and is primarily used as a component part of agricultural fertilizer, in some first aid products (such as cold packs), and in explosives often used in mining and construction industries. Ammonium nitrate was the primary explosive used by Timothy McVeigh in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

In October, 2008, DHS issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking introducing the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program (ANSP). On August 3, 2011, DHS published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the ANSP. The ANSP was proposed with the mission of reducing the likelihood of a terrorist attack through the misuse of ammonium nitrate. Once approved, the ANSP will:

  • Create a registration program for purchasers and sellers of ammonium nitrate. Once created, purchasers and sellers will be required to register with DHS and be evaluated against the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). After clearance through the TSDB, purchasers and sellers will be issued a registration number which will allow them to participate in the purchase, sale or transfer of ammonium nitrate.
  • Establish procedures for reporting a theft or loss of ammonium nitrate.
  • Require businesses to keep records of all ammonium nitrate transactions for two years. To ensure compliance with the ANSP, DHS may conduct inspections of records maintained by purchasers and sellers.
  • We anticipate that the final rule on the ANSP will be issued by mid-year. For more information on the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program, visit