WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is calling for the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman to hold a hearing to examine the recent supply chain crisis and to probe the Biden Administration’s plan to address supply chain failures as it relates to the agricultural industry. In a letter to Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, Ernst highlights the dramatic increase in the cost of fertilizer and other ag inputs and asks for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a co-chair of the Supply Chain Disruption Task Force, to testify.
In the letter, Ernst and her colleagues write, “As you are aware, we are in the midst of a supply chain crisis that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. While some of this crisis can be explained by COVID-19, the unseen over-regulation of industry and labor shortages exacerbated by this administration’s policies are as much or more to blame for the crisis. Instead of loosening the reins and providing businesses with more regulatory flexibility to combat this crisis, this administration continues to explore additional regulation on businesses to micromanage free enterprise.”
On the cost of fertilizer and crop protection, Ernst and others write, “The administration’s policies have dramatically increased energy costs, in turn increasing the cost of fertilizer and crop protection products. Fertilizer already costs the farmer exponentially more this year, in some cases more than 300% from November 2020. Crop protection products necessary to no-till farm are five times more expensive for next year’s 2022 crop than the 2021 crop year. If these products aren’t available at a reasonable cost, farmers will opt for traditional tillage as a means of weed and pest control – a measure widely discouraged by the current administration.”
They continue, “American farmers and ranchers work through the volatility of weather, market demand, and cost of production every day. They deserve more than to be left in the dark surrounding a man-made issue which permeates every part of their livelihoods and threatens to make or break their operations. We insist that the committee host members of the Administration as soon as possible to bring these problems to light and create solutions together.”
To read the full letter, click here.
Since being confirmed on February 23rd, Secretary Vilsack has only appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee one time this year, virtually.