Plan ahead to minimize supply chain disruptions

December 7, 2021
Dave Guilmette, CHS director of supply chain, discusses how truck driver shortages impact farmers and why early planning is the best solution.

As an industry that relies heavily on truck transport, a shortage of truck drivers poses a major challenge for agriculture. Unfortunately, according to Dave Guilmette, CHS director of supply chain, this isn’t a short-term problem with a simple solution. However, proactively working with your cooperative to plan ahead can go a long way in minimizing the impact shipping delays have on your operation.

“What this comes down to is overproduction overseas,” says Guilmette. “Manufacturers are producing more and the U.S. is buying more, so there is a lot of congestion at our ports. From there, of course, goods within the shipping containers need to get out of the ports to be delivered, which causes major bottlenecks.”

“There aren’t a lot of truck drivers coming into the profession, so CHS and the cooperative system are trying to retain and attract as many drivers as we can,” says Guilmette. “That way, we’ll have drivers when needed to contend with these headwinds that we’re facing.”

Long-term implications for farmers

Anything farmers need to ship to or from their farms hinges on truck transport. For example, seed or crop inputs the farmer has ordered need to come in and harvested grain needs to go out. Guilmette says the challenge isn’t just trying to find enough trucks to get products where the farmer needs them, but also to position products at the right time and in the right location.

While Guilmette doesn’t see supply chain issues being resolved quickly, he has reasons for optimism. “This is more of a long-term problem that we’re taking steps to solve,” he says. “As a company, we’re finding creative ways to help minimize the impact so that we can continue meeting our customers’ needs.”

Plan as much as possible

Guilmette advises farmers dealing with supply chain issues to prioritize early planning even more than they normally would.

“The best advice I can give right now to anyone in the ag industry is to give the people they work with as much advance notice as possible,” he says. “Many of our retail partners want to take possession of goods sooner than they have in the past because of the supply crunch and driver constraints in the marketplace. It’s more important than ever to plan ahead so that products can be delivered safely and efficiently.”