The pressure hitting the global supply chain has hit America’s agriculture industry hard.
Farmers and ranchers all over the United States are seeing the prices of essential machinery, spare parts, packaging material, inputs and other supplies rise drastically due to mounting delays that have caused dire shortages.
Kim Rominger, president and CEO of Equipment Dealers Association, a nonprofit trade organization representing equipment retailers, says that the global supply chain is a mess right now. “It spans almost every industry right now, from appliance to automobiles to farm equipment and parts. Everything is under strain,” he says.
This strain is coming from a variety of sources. This includes the labor shortage preventing more truckers from going on the road to deliver vital equipment, not enough workers at ports delaying the arrival of containers from around the world carrying necessary goods and congestion at railroad hubs.
Slowdowns at manufacturing hubs all over the world and the semiconductor shortage that has plagued the world since early 2020 have also affected the ability of equipment makers to provide necessary gear to different industries. (Related: Major storable food supplier Augason Farms ceases operations for 90 days, citing collapsing supply chain.)
For many farmers trying to bring in their harvests before the winter months, a damaged tractor tire or a broken combine can be disastrous as replacement times keep lengthening, and it is unlikely to be alleviated any time soon.
Many farmers say they are now scrambling to find workarounds when their essential machinery breaks. Those who have spoken with media outlets say they have gotten in touch with local welders and mechanics to try and repair their equipment.
“The supply chain issues are affecting farmers and equipment dealers across the board, including sporadic delays for some parts and increased prices,” says Steve Ammerman, director of communications for the New York Farm Bureau, an agriculture nonprofit.
“This has been especially challenging during harvest,” he adds. “When a piece of equipment breaks down, farmers can’t afford to wait a week or two for a part that was typically available at their local dealer or overnighted to them. This can impact the quality of their crop and hurt their bottom line.”
“As harvest ends, we will see farmers at equipment auctions not for the machinery – but for the parts,” says Greg Peterson, founder of a website that hosts farm equipment auctions.
He has noticed a recent trend wherein people looking to purchase tractors and combines online are asking for close-up photos of the machine’s tires and its other parts because replacing these has become extremely difficult. “We’re already hearing from guys talking about buying a second planter or sprayer, just for the parts,” says Peterson.
Charlie and Kerissa Payne, who raise sheep, pigs, cattle and chickens for their meat, can’t get the material they need to send the meat products to factories where they are packed up before being shipped off to groceries.
“We use a custom-made liner to ship out meat nationwide,” says Charlie. “It’s an insulated liner that helps protect our meat as it traverses the United States. At one point in spring, we were facing a five-to-six month backlog.”
The situation has gotten so bad that some farmers have resorted to stealing valuable parts. In Iowa, soybean farmer Cordt Holub locks up all of his machinery inside his barn each night after hearing the news that thieves stole some rare tractor parts from a local dealership.
“You try to baby your equipment, but we’re all at the mercy of luck right now,” says Holub.
John Kuszmaul, a corn and wheat farmer from Kansas, is waiting on a back-ordered fertilizer tank that he may not get this year. In the meantime, he has advised farmers everywhere to begin stocking up on spare parts. “When something becomes available – if you think you’re going to need it, you better buy it.”
Learn more about how the supply chain crisis is hitting America’s farmers hard by reading the latest articles at Harvest.news.