When executives from farm machinery maker AGCO visited Midwest suppliers this summer, they found some companies were operating at only 60 percent staffing levels, said Greg Toornman, who oversees AGCO’s global supply chain management.
Toornman said staff levels are dropping at some suppliers in the Dakotas, Nebraska and Texas, as workers object to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate or drop out of the workforce for fear of getting COVID-19.
“It’s the perfect storm of Tylenol moments,” Toornman said. “It’s one headache after another.”
The supply squeeze has put particular pressure on equipment dealerships, who typically see their service business boom during the traditional September-through-November harvest season.
This year, some have resorted to sifting through decade-old inventories for solutions. One pain point for dealerships is an industry-wide shortage of GPS receivers, which are used to run tractor guidance and data systems.
At Ag-Pro, the largest privately-owned Deere dealership in North America, staff in Ohio have been digging out GPS units that date back to 2004. Until now, they were essentially worthless, but producers can use them to record a digital harvest map of their farms—something many need when talking to their bankers, landlords and crop insurance agents.