Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
top story

Operating in a world with supply chain issues

Planning Ahead

As farmers plan to operate in a world with supply chain issues moving forward, the relationships they have with their sales person or agronomist are as important as ever.

Since the onset of the COVID pandemic in 2020, supply chain issues have continued to disrupt the agriculture industry, forcing farmers to adapt and seek alternative solutions when specific resources haven’t been available to them.

At the Big Iron Farm Show on Thursday, Sept. 15, in West Fargo, N.D., the Red River Farm Network hosted a supply management forum with a panel of industry professionals to discuss supply chain bottlenecks and the changes farmers have made to ensure they get the products they need.

The three-man panel included: Jason Edwards, general manager at CHS, Inc.; Thad Meister, sales rep at Helena Chemical Company; and Chris Wharam, district sales manager at Wilbur-Ellis.

Looking at COVID, the panelists discussed how the pandemic impacted their company’s ability to move product from the source all the way to the farmer.

“The domestic logistics had a significant impact on moving product from where it was manufactured to where it’s consumed,” Wharam said. “We saw a lot of that on the crop protection side of things. It became cost-prohibitive to bring cargo containers across the ocean, the ports weren’t staffed appropriately, and there were also a lot of impacts on crossing the Canadian border. All those things impacted the supply chain and rippled out from there.”

Staffing issues for companies were also an issue that affected supply, according to Edwards.

“We had significant staffing issues, not necessarily because of COVID, but because of the preparations we took,” he said. “We sent a lot of non-essential workers home, or we took steps to send half of them home and alternated weeks with the other half. We felt it was a better option to have product moving slowly through the supply line rather than having no product at all.”

Issues with the supply chain were felt by many farmers and ranchers this spring, especially in terms of crop inputs, and Meister suggested the late start to spring fieldwork because of weather may have actually been a blessing.

“If we weren’t pushed back in our season this year, I think we would have all seen some major issues, especially up here,” he said. “I hate to say it, but we were fortunate things were pushed back this spring because it helped us get things in time for the season. Many had to take their third or fourth choice because of supply challenges.”

As farmers plan to operate in a world with supply chain issues moving forward, Edwards says the relationships they have with their sales person or agronomist are as important as ever.

“We are going to be living in a world where we have supply chain issues, so some things will come in earlier than others. Also, while not on purpose, we’ve been in this ‘just in time’ mode, so with all the complications we saw last year, people didn’t get everything they wanted, but essentially, they got everything they needed.”

Wharam echoed Edwards’ statement and added that planning will be key moving forward.

“Whether you’re planning with your crop consultant or retailer, the earlier the planning, the greater the odds of getting what you want,” he said.

Wharam noted that he’s seen farmers taking possession of product earlier in order to ensure they’ll have what they need when they need it.

“They may already have 80-90 percent of their acres planned for next year, and they’re procuring what they need for those acres,” he said. “The way to control your destiny and farm the way you want to farm is through planning. That way you don’t have to go to plan B or C. I’m seeing people make decisions to commit to product earlier.”

The idea of planning ahead is something Edwards has noticed, as well, noting how that way of operating benefits everyone involved.

“The farmer’s viewpoint is a lot like our viewpoint – we want that plan as soon as we can so we can start securing products,” Edwards said. “Even if you’re not planning to execute or pull the trigger on today’s prices and you feel like it’s to your advantage to wait, still communicate the tons you’ll need to your cooperative or retailer that you plan on buying. If you don’t speak for those tons, there could be a possibility that those tons may not be there when you ask for them.”

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Find the equipment you're looking for

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News