Short Supplies, Rising Cost, Inflation: Definitely Not a Pretty Picture

I’ve debated over the last three weeks about writing an article that addresses the title.  I usually try to have a positive message even when there is a problem that we face.  Most problems can be resolved or prevented.  They sometimes resolve over time without intervention.  Unfortunately, the problems we face currently, I don’t think, are going to resolve themselves or have an easy solution to mitigate the problem over the next year. 

Here are a few headlines of articles (among dozens) I’ve been reading over the 10 days to two weeks:

“Lack of Workers is Further Fueling Supply Chain Woes” CNBC

“Supply Shortages Here to Stay?”, Kenan Institute, UNC, WRAL TechWire

“America Faces Supply Chain Disruption and Shortages.”  The Guardian

“Container Ships Backed Up Outside LA ports”, ABC News

“Home Heating Prices Expected to Skyrocket this Winter”, ABC News

“Why Shoppers are Finding Many Products Hard to Find”, CBS News

“We Haven’t Seen Anything Yet: Food Prices Continue to Climb”, CBS News

“Ports Face Record Backlog ahead of Holidays”, CBS News

“Supply Chain Workers Warn of System Collapse”, Fox News

“Builders Face ‘Unprecedented’ Supply Shortage”, Fox News

“Inflation and Supply Shortages Mean a Return of Empty Shelves and Panic Buying”, Bloomberg

“Bottlenecks and Shortages: supply chain woes dog global recovery”, Yahoo News

The reasons for these headlines and contributing factors are many. Some are directly due to a single cause and effect, others due to the convergences of more than one contributing factor.  The most obvious are: the occurrence of SARS-CoV-2, it’s emergence and world’s reaction to it, government leaderships changes, increased debt, a volatile dollar, inflation, rising economies fueling more demand, and the disruptions caused by the convergence of these factors.  Our “just in-time delivery system” collapsed under the weight of lockdowns, labor shortages, rising fuel cost, factory shutdowns and confusion brought by changes in government regulations and rules and rising cost of goods and services.

Container ships waiting to unload

All of this has hit every local, state, national and global industry.  We are not immune to this problem. We’ve all seen the shortages in our local businesses and, likely, have felt the sting of short supplies particularly when you needed it now.  Over the last several months I’ve heard growers, friends, neighbors tell their stories of not being able to find their favorite product (food, clothes tools, common household items, parts).  I heard stories of delaying in building homes buildings or sheds, in hopes that prices will decline.  New tractor deliveries are months apart, tractor supplies short, pesticides, pharmaceuticals short, fuel cost rising, fertilizers prices skyrocketing, and help wanted signs everywhere.  Even raw materials to make products such as metal parts, chemistries, plastics, lubricants, etc are very short. There is just no let up, yet.

This all leads me to one conclusion.  Though we are in the middle of harvesting all our row crops, vegetables, tree nuts, etc., it is highly prudent to act now to create Plan A, Plan B and Plan C for 2022 production.  Fuel, chemicals, seed, equipment parts, fertilizer, etc., are not going to get cheaper.  We know supplies will be short (though we hope against it), so we must look ahead to 2022 and not get caught short on what we need to get a crop in the ground.  So, I encourage you to not only plan but start purchasing as many supplies as possible so as to get as much of the crop in the ground come good weather this spring, and not be caught short and then delayed.  If you can’t purchase but are allowed to put an order in so as to be first in line, then do so.  Supply shortage is a global problem and we unfortunately are dependent on foreign made goods for much of our agricultural production. 

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