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What can farmers do to mitigate the supply chain issues?

Industry Experts Discuss Challenges Facing Rural America on RFD-TV

Labor shortages. Supply chain issues. Residual effects of the pandemic. A panel of three agricultural manufacturing experts tackled these all-too-familiar topics during the CLAAS Hour on RFD-TV’s Rural America Live. Many factors are affecting the availability of ag equipment and other supplies. Parts that have been readily available for years are now more difficult to get. Prices are increasing, and delivery times are getting longer.

Host Mark Oppold interviewed these industry leaders regarding the challenges:

  • Eric Raby, Senior Vice President for CLAAS Americas Region
  • Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, an organization that provides support to the manufacturers that support agriculture
  • Corey Claussen, President of Custom Roto-Mold LLC (CRM), a family business that supplies ag manufacturers, including CLAAS, with fuel tanks and other components

As Eric Raby puts it, “We boil it down to three things: Availability, deliverability and the cost.” There are multiple factors causing all of this. Of course, some of this is due to the pandemic.

“Our biggest concern was lack of labor with an increase in demand,” says Cory Claussen. “We soon realized that the components coming from overseas were also a big challenge.” While microchips are the most well-known equipment shortage, Curt Blades says steel, plastic and rubber are all in short supply, too. “Whatever makes up a combine or a tractor is having supply chain issues. It’s not just one thing – it’s a number of things.”

Supply Logistics Image_12

Managing Labor Shortages

While working remotely has gained in popularity, on-site equipment manufacturing has suffered. At CLAAS, people need to be on-site to build machines, so the company made an effort to promote employee safety and well-being. Raby says CLAAS also started an apprentice program in the factory, and recruiting efforts now begin much earlier.

“By that I mean not just looking at vocational education programs but high schools, and even the upper grades of elementary school. We’re talking about careers in agriculture and what can we do to really get them interested in the business. That’s what keeps our economy going.”

Increasing Efficiencies

Technology in agriculture helps reduce labor and other costs on the farm. By using less fuel and more efficient machines, operators can get more done in less time.

Technology can save time and headaches with service as well. CLAAS can provide remote service for many issues, including diagnostics and repairs before the operator realizes there’s a problem.

The On Your Farm Parts program can also help farmers stay ahead of mechanical issues. CLAAS has a vast inventory of spare parts, but nothing compares to having those parts on hand. On Your Farm Parts can save time and money, especially with the special discounts and payment terms CLAAS offers.

Tips From the Panel

“Plan as far ahead as you can and let as many people as possible know what your plans are,” says Raby.

“Communication is important,” says Blades. “The right opportunity will present itself, but we can’t do that if we don’t know.”

“The old way of doing business is out the window right now,” says Claussen. “For that grower, I’d get to that dealer early and often to let them know what you need. The more we know, the sooner we know, we can meet those demands.”

Blades adds, “The thing I’d ask is for a little bit of grace. We’re all working toward supplying on time.”

Raby wraps it all up with, “In addition to planning, have some trust. Even though we’re in the business to sell things, if we don’t do things correctly, those sales don’t last. It’s incumbent upon us to make sure we are earning the trust of growers and keeping it.”

To watch the full episode of Rural America Live click this link.

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