Brad Massey


The price of Florida phosphate rock skyrocketed in the 1970s. Corporate profits soared as well, peaking in 1980-1981 as phosphate-based fertilizers were applied to more and more farms throughout the world. During this boom decade, Florida phosphate companies acquired new lands for strip-mining operations, invested billions in new industrial infrastructure and employee payrolls, and created thousands of jobs. Over 90% of the phosphate rock extracted from the Florida earth was used for fertilizer production, which industry proponents argued was a noble global industrial cause. Florida mining boosters testified that phosphate fertilizers increased farm yields, staving off starvation and food scarcity for millions. In the absence of mined Florida phosphate rock-industry proponents liked to publicly proclaim-stomachs throughout the world would face the pangs of malnourishment.