FRANKFORT – Supply chain problems and inflation caused by the pandemic are causing problems in a variety of Kentucky’s economic sectors, including agriculture, a legislative committee heard Wednesday.
Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles told the Interim Committee on Shared Resources and Revenue that supply chain issues were at a critical juncture.
“In the middle of the harvest, our farmers are just a worn part, a broken part that will be shut down for another two or three weeks,” he said. “It’s kind of ironic that a half-million dollar device could be retired for a portion of $ 30.”
Quarles says this isn’t just a short-term problem.
“We see rising production costs from spring 2022, especially for fertilizers and parts. We have barges that hold the parts we need that are not unloaded, and of course there is a shortage of shipping containers when shipping. “
While farms’ net income from crops is expected to increase this year, Quarles says that isn’t the whole story. Feed costs go up when grain prices go up, he said.
A labor shortage is another problem facing agriculture, according to Quarles.
“America currently has over 10 million jobs. It’s hard to get people into the ag at first; it’s hard work and you can’t ‘enlarge’ it, ”he said. “You have to show up every day despite the weather and that really becomes a problem.”
There are other bottlenecks affecting agriculture, Quarles said. “There are different types of containers in the dairy industry because they have difficulty finding plastic bottles. Our friends in the bourbon industry are currently struggling to find glass bottles to pour bourbon into. In some states there are no bourbon deliveries because the glass for filling cannot be found. “
Tom Underwood, executive director of the Kentucky Wholesale Distributors Association, said there are bottlenecks in a number of products at the wholesale level as well. As a result, he suggested that anyone shopping for Christmas should do so now so as not to be left out.