Persistent supply chain issues are not an agricultural supply issue

By Jennifer Whitlock

I feel like every time I read or watch the news lately one of the headlines has something to do with supply chain issues.

Vehicles, toys, clothing and many other consumer goods are scarce. It makes sense. They are either made overseas or require parts overseas, so if we experience cargo delays in ports on both sides of the ocean, I can see why these items are not available.

But what happens at the grocery store? Why, months after people stopped hoarding COVID, are grocery store shelves taken out of stock and labeled with “temporarily unavailable” signs?

It is not because farmers and ranchers have stopped growing and raising our food. Throughout the pandemic, farmers and ranchers have remained focused on their goal of providing safe and affordable food to themselves and their fellow Americans.

“Our abundant food has not stopped growing in the fields.

They faced a lot of challenges, that’s for sure. From bottlenecks in livestock processing facilities to rising feed prices to reduced availability of important agricultural inputs like fertilizers and herbicides, farmers and ranchers have been affected by the impacts. supply chain issues.

But they are dedicated. Concentrated. And resourceful. Our abundant food has continued to grow in the fields.

Labor in processing plants and food manufacturers – or rather, its shortage – seems to be the main culprit behind empty grocery store shelves.

Food and beverage companies have experienced a dwindling supply of labor for years, but the pandemic has exacerbated these problems.

Employees who have been made redundant or whose hours have been reduced at the height of shutdowns and manufacturing slowdowns are not returning, and not enough new people are arriving to take their places.

And without enough staff, they don’t make enough products to meet demand. From manufactured food products to the packaging of those products, manufacturers are feeling the pinch of not having enough help.

The same labor issue resonates throughout the rest of the food supply chain. Truck drivers, food service workers and grocery store workers are in high demand.

We need every link in our food supply chain to function optimally in order to maintain the stable and affordable food supply to which we are accustomed in this country.

It may just take a little longer to get back to full speed.

So remember that when you can’t find a food or household item that your family loves, it’s not because farmers have stopped growing wheat and sugar or dairy farmers have stopped milking their crops. herds. It is more likely that the manufacturer simply cannot meet the demand.

Farmers and ranchers shop in the same grocery stores as we do. They are also disappointed when their favorite foods are out of stock.

Do not accumulate. Be reasonable in your purchasing habits and know that farmers and ranchers are #stillfarming and #stillranching. And they will continue to do so.

Jennifer Whitlock is the Field Writer for Texas Agricultural Bureau.

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