Hearing it’s the supply chain’s fault is maddening
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Hearing it’s the supply chain’s fault is maddening

Everywhere you turn, suppliers are blaming the supply chain for higher prices.

But do you ever wonder who the members of the supply chain are?

Suppliers! That’s who.

And in agriculture, many suppliers are punting the high-price blame to others, with no or little explanation, insinuating that problems related to their part of the supply chain started elsewhere…like the farm.

But now this matter has landed on consumers’ laps, and it’s time for suppliers to step up.

Take fertilizer prices, for example. They’ve gone through the roof in the past year. Farmers could end up paying as much as 200 per cent more for fertilizer this year compared to 2021.

And who’s to blame?

Mosaic Fertilizer – the company whose logo you see midfield in Regina’s Taylor Field – is one of North America’s biggest suppliers. It has half of the U.S. potash-based fertilizer market. That is huge. And it’s among the companies connected to farmers’ big bills.

In an interview with Scoop magazine, Mosaic’s director of market and strategic analysis blamed the problem on – you guessed it – the supply chain.

For example, production costs are up, driven significantly by the price of the natural gas required to make potash into fertilizer. 

Demand is up too. As Mosaic notes, fertilizer demand follows commodity prices. When the prices farmers get for crops are up, they buy more fertilizer, to get more yield. Crop prices are way up, because demand is up and supplies are strained. So, the spotlight falls on farmers.

The Mosaic spokesperson told Scoop the company empathizes with ag retailers and farmers’ “conundrum” of needing fertilizer and having to pay so much more for it.

Fine, then, do something about it. Take less profit.

It’s not all crops, though. Beef prices are soaring too, and once again the can is being kicked from supplier to supplier.

Energy producers, transportation companies, feed suppliers and meat processors all say their costs are up, and I’m sure they are. Again, though, how about profits? In the US, lawmakers are fuming about meat processors making gobs of cash during the pandemic, running up prices while Americans scrambled to fill their freezers.

At the end of the line, retailers face consumers and say of course we too have to charge more, everyone’s costs are up. No wonder frustrated consumers are looking for alternatives.

The barely visible parts of the supply chain that can easily slip under the radar or pass the buck need to consider what happens to their services when consumers start saying no thanks and push back.

In the face of this simmering situation, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is launching an initiative in 2022 called Connecting with Ontarians. It’s designed to encourage farmers to tell their stories and develop relationships with the public.

That’s where we should be able to get a true picture about what’s contributing to the price of food, from the real people who produce it. All this punting has to stop.

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