Are There Enough Chemicals and Fertilizer to Plant This Year's Crop? An Inside Look at What's in Jeopardy
As many U.S. farmers anxiously await spring planting, supply chain concerns continue to plague planting outlooks. And while weather typically has the final say in what farmers plant, input availability issues could be another factor farmers battle all spring.
USDA’s Prospective Plantings report shows farmers intend to plant 4% fewer acres in 2022, largely due to fertilizer prices. However, it’s chemistry availability that seems to be a growing concern for both ag retail suppliers and farmers. Commodity and input prices have seen a dramatic change since the USDA survey was done at the beginning of March. And if farmers decide to switch acres last minute, finding the necessary inputs may be the biggest hurdle this year.
Farm Journal recently conducted a survey of ag retailers, and it found 87% of retailers say they have had difficulty sourcing inputs this year. And of those who are having trouble with input availability this year, 85% say herbicides are the biggest problem. The next biggest concern is with fungicide as 42% of retailers surveyed say they’ve seen issues with that input. 38% of respondents reported fertilizer supply problems.
The Farm Journal survey also drilled down further into the chemistry supply concerns. Ag retailers say glyphosate is the biggest concern at this point in the year.
Glyphosate production was hammered with several black swan events this year. Ripple effects of COVID-19 in China caused issues in sourcing the active ingredients in glyphosate. Then, Hurricane Ida hammered the Gulf Coast, with the largest glyphosate plant in the U.S. taking a direct hit. The Bayer facility, which supplies the majority of glyphosate in the U.S., was offline for more than six weeks last fall. And then another issue spurred supply concerns this year, as Bayer declared a Force Majeure after a supplier of an ingredient for its widely used herbicide glyphosate ran into a mechanical failure, which Bayer said could hamper the output of the product.
“Our supplier is on track to restore production, (and) we’ve sourced additional materials and made other mitigation efforts to help best manage this situation,” the company said in a statement reported by Reuters.