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Pre-planning, communication key to navigating agrochemical supply shortages
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Pre-planning, communication key to navigating agrochemical supply shortages

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Agrochemical supplies are predicted to remain tight through 2022, so producers are encouraged to communicate and plan ahead.

American farmers and ranchers survived an unprecedented year in 2020, and the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continued on into 2021. While the biggest side effect from the global crises in 2020 included the processing, shipping, and selling of end-use agriculture products, that particular issue has begun to resolve itself the deeper we get into 2021.

The tides have turned however, and instead of facing supply chain issues at the end of their production year, farmers are now facing chemical and fertilizer shortages at the beginning of their production year. The timing could not be worse, especially across the Northern Great Plains as winter wheat and fallow acres are being worked.

“We are seeing tight supplies amidst high demand, and inadvertently, we are seeing high prices,” said Karissa Floerchinger, product manager for Helena Agri-Enterprises in Helena, Mont.

Glyphosate is one agrochemical of particular importance to area growers that is currently seeing pinched supplies. Bayer’s glyphosate manufacturing plant is in Louisiana, so while backlogged cargo ships and labor shortages have certainly been an issue this year, Floerchinger pointed out the real blow to Roundup supplies came when Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf Coast in late August.

The storm ultimately caused Bayer’s plant to shut down and the lull in production just further complicated an already disrupted supply chain.

Looking specifically at states in Northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest, Floerchinger says limited supplies can be directly linked to trucking shortages.

“Our area sees this constricting upon us even more because there isn’t a lot of trucks going through. If those trucks haul something here they want something to haul back for that return trip and sometimes that is hard to come by,” she added.

Experts are predicting agrochemicals could continue to see supply chain issues into 2022. Trucking costs are slated to increase and no clear resolution has been pinpointed to unravel the snarl of shipping containers at U.S. docks.

“Producers are frustrated, and when it comes down to it, we are frustrated right along with them,” Floerchinger said.  

With complexities occurring on the global manufacturing market and the domestic supply chain and with no clear end in sight, Floerchinger says it is critical right now for producers to communicate extensively with their agronomists, reps, and other crop specialists. It takes a village to raise a crop, and given the current climate, growers are going to need a well-versed team in their corner to ensure crops are raised as efficiently and economically as possible in the coming season.

“Spend your money where you know it best pays for itself. Communicate your fertilizer needs, communicate your herbicide needs, and communicate your seed needs,” she advised.

Continuing, Floerchinger also encourages producers to plan ahead. If we know right now agrochemical supplies are tight, don’t wait until the eleventh hour to formulate an application plan for spring crops. While current times are proving to be quite a logistical debacle, she reminds producers that alongside every challenge lies an opportunity.

In conclusion, Floerchinger emphasized that the main goal of any producer, crop specialist, and sales representative is to help foster and raise the safest food supply in the world. Conditions are not ideal at the moment, but agriculture is an industry known for being able to accommodate and overcome. Current agrochemical supply troubles are frustrating, but not insurmountable.

The Prairie Star Weekly Update

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