Farmers call for help to tackle supply chain disruption

8 September 2021

The US farming industry is calling for help with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its supply chain.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), a trade body representing farms and ranches, wrote to agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack detailing a list of solutions to address critical supply chain issues.

It outlines seven priorities for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to consider in response to president Joe Biden’s executive order on America’s supply chains earlier this year.

The AFBF urged the USDA to work with other agencies to ensure increased costs to farmers are considered in tariff rulings.

It wants the government to streamline the application process for guest workers and ensure personal protective equipment is available for farm workers.

Agricultural hauliers and the rest of the trucking industry must have the flexibilities needed to provide timely delivery of essential products, and the nation’s rail and port systems should be improved, the AFBF said.

It urged the government to consider the impact of trade actions on agricultural exports and resolve outstanding issues with China.

The AFBF said it supported USDA’s commitments to bolster the role of small capacity meat packers in the supply chain with a grant programme.

The letter said the issues were “matters of critical importance to American agriculture”, as the country was witnessing unprecedented vulnerabilities throughout the supply chain.

“Supplies of farm inputs like crop protectants, fertilisers, and seeds have been difficult to obtain, and expensive to purchase,” said AFBF president Zippy Duvall.

“Highway transportation of farm products and supplies is more expensive and less available today than pre-pandemic levels, and timely maritime transport of value-added agricultural exports is frustrated, at best.

“All the while, agricultural labour, both domestic and foreign, is increasingly difficult to access and expensive, making already small margins even tighter.”

Meanwhile, US paints and coatings company PPG said it expected sales volumes in the third quarter of this year to be down by $225m to $275m, due to increasing disruptions in commodity supplies, further reductions in customer production due to certain parts shortages such as semi-conductor chips, and continuing global logistics and transportation challenges.

It said raw material costs had risen from about $60m to $70m.

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