ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. — Many Kentucky farmers are having to change the way they work because of shortages and disruptions to the supply-chain.
Since 1988 Greg Thomas has had a career in farm services. He helps farmers grow the most crops or achieve the highest yields. But the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way he does business and it’s uncertain when those disruptions will end.
“If we remember back in 2020 we had some supply chain issues with our grocery stores, specifically meat processing. Fast forward to 2021 we are seeing a backlog of many issues affecting agriculture,” Ryan Quarles, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture said.
Those issues range from receiving parts as well as dramatic increases in the cost of fertilizer and other planting needs.
“Early booking prices for 2021 vs where we're at now are at least doubled so a $330 potash back in Jan. is now around $700 for example so we are seeing major increases. We have farmers struggling with the idea of wanting to pay for it going forward, some of them are going to cut back the amount they apply,” Greg Thomas, manager at Nutrien Ag Solution (Cecilia, KY location) said.
Thomas helps nearly 800 farmers through Nutrien Ag Solutions in Cecilia. Right now he’s seeing that costs are uncertain and there’s a scarcity of products.
“We may have some guys switch to more soybeans because it doesn't take as much fertilizer, it doesn't take much input costs to put soybeans out. There's a shortage of glyphosate, there's a shortage of some of the pre-emergent products, there's a shortage of atrazine which is a very critical corn product,” Thomas said.
Thomas has experienced the disruption of deliveries himself. He's currently waiting on parts for two pieces of equipment that are broken down.
“It's not terribly unusual for a piece of application equipment to be waiting on a part because I may have a breakdown on a piece that's not normal and the supplier does not have it in stock but it seems more and more now just about every time you need something you're waiting for it,” Thomas said.
Quarles says people will have to plan ahead.
“We know that this may be a higher than expected Thanksgiving cost or a holiday season meal may be up. Same for farmers as we look into 2022 where we ask people to be cautious, plan ahead and if you can log in your inputs early with our suppliers,” Quarles said.
Commissioner Quarles said his biggest concern beyond agriculture is the effects of runaway inflation in America.
According to the Department of Agriculture turkey report, frozen turkeys between 8 and 16 pounds already cost 25 cents a pound more than a year ago.