The current economic and supply chain crisis in the U.S. has resulted in rising food prices and shortages of goods. These issues could get worse as livestock producers warn that they are now having trouble getting feed.
There are rail bottlenecks in many supply chains throughout the U.S., but recently livestock owners have complained that they are on the verge of completely running out of grain, according to AgWeb.
“Feed users in California and the Southwest are having issues sourcing grain,” the outlet reported. “There are also concerns the rail issues could grow worse during harvest this fall.”
The National Grain and Feed Association has been running into these issues since late winter and throughout the spring.
“What I’m hearing from our members is fewer equipment issues and that the equipment and engines seem to be not breaking down, but the train times — the amount of time it’s taking to get the trains — and the reliability of receiving them is still quite a problem in quite a few areas of the country,” said Mike Seyfert, president and CEO of NGFA.
Some have come dangerously close to running out of feed entirely.
“At times in the past several months, we have heard from more than one member that has had severe difficulty getting feed, sometimes being within several hours of being short,” Seyfert said.
Part of the problem causing these transportation snags and the resulting supply shortage is actually a shortage of labor, AgWeb reported.
According to NFGA, the railroads being used to transport grain were already down about 25 percent in staffing before COVID-19 hit. But during the pandemic, things just got worse as labor shortages became more severe.
Labor force participation throughout the entire economy has suffered and has been slow to rise after the pandemic, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the grander scheme of the American economy, shortages of feed could further damage the food market.
Food prices have already risen as the inflation crisis has worsened.
In April, food prices were 9.4 percent higher than they were in April of 2021, CNN reported. Grocery prices overall jumped 10.8 percent.
Now, if grain shortages start to plague the livestock industry, Americans could be looking at even steeper prices for basic foods and necessities.
Members of Congress have begun to move to address the supply chain issues, but there is no firm plan yet, AgWeb reported.
“On behalf of our constituents and farmers around the country, we write regarding poor rail service, which has limited fertilizer shipments, among other essential agricultural inputs and commodities, including grain and feed,” a letter from U.S. representatives to the Surface Transportation Board stated.
“We must ensure critical commodities reach essential industries and workers, such as America’s farmers, who are essential to feeding our nation and the world. Food is a national security issue, and we must treat it as such.”