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Farming latest industry to deal with supply chain issues

Posted at 4:30 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 19:26:19-04

MANTUA, Ohio — At the start of the pandemic in 2020, one industry that was better equipped to handle it might have been farming.

"We invented social distancing," joked Portage County Farmer Chuck Sayre at the time.

A year and a half later though farming, like all industries has been impacted by supply chain issues. News 5 caught up with Sayre Tuesday as he was taking a rain-induced break from harvesting.

"We actually needed the breather," Sayre said. "One of our big combines, one of our big harvesting machines last week had an oil line break. Simple fix, I mean nothing, there are no parts available. They sourced one part that we needed from Canada, it's stuck in customs right now. The machine is broke down out in the field, it won't move and they don't know when the part's coming."

He also has a truck that pulls one of his grain trailers sidelined because of a faulty diesel exhaust fluid sensor.

"Pretty common for those sensors to go out, they're non-existent, you can't get them right now. So my truck's been down for almost two weeks because it doesn't has the sensor."

Yes, parts coming in are slowed and so too in some cases he said are crops going out.

"The trucking shortage and rail shortage, the elevators we take our grain to are full, there's nowhere for them to go with the product. Some farmers are having to make the choice of leaving product in the field you know there's just nowhere to go with it," Sayre said.

"Leaving it in the field is not an option you want to do but if there is nowhere to go with it, if you don't have trucks and you don't have storage, that's the only choice and there are farmers who are going to be making some tough decisions."

And economists believe the challenges will only grow in that pipeline with the upcoming holiday season.

"You know this puts even more strain on the already challenges that are happening in the supply chain," said Michael Goldberg of the Case Western University Weatherhead School of Management.

And if you feel the pinch at the pump as gas prices rise farmers feel it more.

"Agriculture and petroleum go hand and hand, fertilizers are all petroleum-based so when petroleum goes up our fertilizer prices go up, our diesel it takes a lot of diesel fuel to plant and harvest that has tripled since last year."

The Sayre's have stuck with soybeans as their primary crop for years but these supply chain issues have already got them thinking about next year for this reason.

"Some of our products that we treat the soybeans with to kill the weeds are not going to be available next year. We already know that they're not going to be available," he said. "The input costs are going to be so high that I'm not sure which way we're going to head right now."