How supply chain issues are affecting Missouri farmers, costing you more

Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you might have noticed more empty shelves and not as many choices. The supply chain issues are also burdening Missouri’s number one industry, and it’s costing consumers more.

We’ve all heard that if you don’t buy your Christmas gifts sooner rather than later, they might not show up on time this year, but what about those people who put the food on your table? Those same supply chain issues are also causing disruption for farmers in the Show-Me State.

“I’ve heard from so many farmers who are waiting on parts for their equipment,” Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins said.

Supply chain issues are causing havoc on Missouri’s number on industry and Hawkins said there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

“I am seeing a least at home, a number of farmers who are going ahead and purchasing fertilizer because they are concerned about fertilizer availability next spring,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins is also a third-generation farmer from Appleton City near the Kansas border. He and his wife have 310 acres and more than 150 head of cattle.

“Even my dad waited six weeks for a barring to come in for his tractor,” Hawkins said. “As we close out this year, we continue to see disruptions with regard to purchasing new farm equipment.”

He said the supply chain crisis affects everything from equipment to fertilizer to the products in the grocery store due to a shortage of labor at meat processing plants.

“They are not able to process at the same amount of speed that would normally be expected and so ultimately their costs are going up and those costs ultimately are reaching consumers,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said the farming industry first started to notice a supply chain issue during the midst of the pandemic.

“Things were still happening on the farm and ranch as always right, we were still producing but we saw these bottlenecks when it came to processing,” Hawkins said.

Missouri’s agriculture industry brings in more than $88 billion a year, ranking the Show-Me State second in the nation for farms, with 95,000 farms, and second in beef cattle with 2.04 million head.

“There’s a sense of great uncertainty as we head into 2022, know that we are going to pay more for everything that we touch, and ultimately we as farmers are price takers and not able to pass those costs along,” Hawkins said.

Even though consumers might be paying more at checkout, doesn’t mean farmers are getting a raise.

“Because those costs are up, doesn’t mean our net profits are up in agriculture,” Hawkins said. “We’re experiencing the same thing that all Americans are, we’re paying more every day. Ultimately, our prices are higher as well to try to get that product off the farm.”

Hawkins said he paid 60% more for fertilizer this year.

“I can tell you my wife just about fell out of her chair when she was opening bills,” Hawkin said. “At that same time, I can’t pass that cost on. I have nowhere to go with that cost. It comes out of our bottom line for the year.”

Missouri ranks sixth in the country for turkey farms, with more than 16 million head. According to the American Farm Bureau, if you haven’t bought your Thanksgiving fixings yet, be prepared to pay 14% more than last year.

“We get it,” Hawkins said. “It’s not just us as farmers and ranchers. It’s that we are experiencing these disruptions in our daily lives. But for us as farmers, it affects our choice in terms of how we think about our operations as we go into the next year, how we manage all of these tremendous price increases and we try to figure out how to do more with less.”

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