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INDUSTRY LEADERS LIST MAJOR SUPPLY-CHAIN ISSUES IN THE AGRIBUSINESS INDUSTRY
by Chris Clayton, DTN/Progressive Farmer

(l to r) Tom Brand, NAFB, MC; Ben Smith, John Deere; Chris DeMoss, MFA; Dave Spears; Mid-Kansas Co-op; Michael Lichte, Dairy Farmers of America, and Jarrod Gillig, Cargill Protein.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (DTN) -- As President Joe Biden was signing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act into law Thursday, a group of executives from across the agricultural spectrum spoke about the various bottleneck and stress points in the supply chain that continue to plague the sector from the farm to the ocean carrier.

The various challenges of labor in rural America, transportation and reliance on foreign countries for key inputs were repeated themes as executives from Cargill Protein, John Deere, Dairy Farmers of America, MFA Inc., and the Mid-Kansas Coop each touched on the individual challenges in their businesses during a forum hosted by the Kansas City Agribusiness Council.

The executives touched on growing concerns about inflation, including the problems that have plagued West Coast ports. Biden, in signing the supping bill into law, stressed the legislation is needed to address inflation and ensure exporters such as agricultural shippers can get their products in containers and onto cargo ships.

Cargill exports about 20% of its beef products, so the port situation has been a challenge, especially because freezer space at ports becomes limited when shipping gets backed up, said Jarrod Gillig, president of Cargill Protein North America. While the Biden administration has tried since the beginning of the year to help boost agricultural shipping at California ports, Gillig said it remains slow.

"It's still definitely slower, and we believe there continues to be constrained movement through those ports, and that's what we're seeing whether that is due to container availability or the physical ports," Gillig said.

Michael Lichte, vice president of milk optimization and customer relations for Dairy Farmers of America, added the dairy industry is now reliant on nearly 20% of production going to export, so dairy farmers too are affected by slow service at the West Coast ports. Lichte also pointed to the pandemic shutdown in Shanghai, China, this spring that created a bottleneck for getting containers.

"We couldn't get our products exported overseas," Lichte said.

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