Supply Chain Issues Affecting Missouri Farmers

I’m notoriously a last minute Christmas shopper, but I honestly do. Growing up, I remember going to Clinton with my dad on Christmas Eve after doing chores so he could shop at the jewelry store before it closed. Although I start planning with the greatest intentions, it always seems to me that I am scrambling at the last minute to find the perfect gift for my wife. This year, I have a lot of work to do. If I don’t start now, I might not be able to find the right one in store or online.

Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins
Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins

Across the country, we hear about supply chain issues interrupting the holiday season. Everything from microchips to prescription drugs is rare, as are artificial Christmas trees. Try to buy a new truck these days: almost impossible. Do you want to order furniture? Better to keep what you have or sit on the floor until spring. The goods are stored in warehouses abroad, or even on container ships in ports waiting to be unloaded. Even though you can get delivery on time, you pay a lot more for it.

In agriculture, we have felt the pressure of an inflexible supply chain on the input side. Farmers have seen the price of fertilizers and crop protection products go up quickly, if they can get the products. In Purdue University’s latest monthly nationwide producer survey, more than 50 percent said they expected farm input costs to increase by at least 8 percent over the course of the year. coming year. This is a real eye-opener because over the past 10 years, input prices have only increased by 1.8% per year, on average.

For some of the more basic products, companies have stopped taking orders because they are unsure of having access to the necessary supplies, many of which come in part or all from abroad. The U.S. agricultural chemicals industry, for example, depends on China to provide 40% of the ingredients and materials needed to make crop protection products.

In some cases, raw materials are there to make products, but employees are not available to take those raw materials to the next level, whether it’s further processing or delivering the finished product to the next level. customer.

Recently, the American Farm Bureau joined with 16 other national farm organizations in calling attention to multiple facets of the supply chain situation, including labor, barges, ports and sea ​​containers, trucking and rail freight, fertilizers, chemical inputs, energy and equipment and parts. . While we attribute the stalemate to the “just in time” supply chain, the problems created over time and exacerbated by the pandemic will not be resolved overnight. We need a more resilient US supply chain.

At the Missouri Farm Bureau, we’re committed to ensuring that domestic agriculture and manufacturing remains strong. We have fought to ban foreign ownership of farmland in our state, encourage the processing of agricultural products, and promote the direct marketing of meat, vegetables and fruits to consumers. We have worked with others in the agriculture industry to expand the state’s processing of agriculture and forestry products through the Missouri Food, Beverage and Forest Products Initiative.

Governor Mike Parson recently announced that American Foods Group has selected Warren County for a new state-of-the-art beef processing plant. The $ 450 million facility will employ 1,300 workers and strengthen Missouri’s beef industry. We have also seen the emergence of more small-scale meat processors across the state. These collective efforts will certainly improve the resilience of the supply chain in the long run.

In the short term, however, we shouldn’t expect supply chain pressures to ease. Treatment facilities cannot be built overnight, and expanding ports, dredging rivers and building highways can take years. Continuing inflation, labor shortages, rising energy prices and a host of other issues make it difficult for the end of 2021. We need to do our best to make prudent decisions in the future. approaching 2022 and, yes, think a little more about the shopping holidays.

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