The surging Omicron COVID variant poses a big unknown for January’s agricultural economy and other sectors, according to an American Farm Bureau economist. Omicron is forcing new business and school closures, thousands of airline cancellations, renewed mask and vaccine mandates, and new worries among farmers of input delays. American Farm Bureau Economist Shelby Myers says; “I think it pushes the delays even further and causes a lot of back-up issues for the availability of necessary inputs for farming and ranching.”
Myers says producers have already faced a year-and-a-half of supply chain delays and soaring costs. Now, they could face more.
“You have slowdowns at a production facility, domestic or abroad, and then the transit, cost, supply to get it to its final destination. Any kind of hiccups that have occurred through there, any labor shortages, container shortages, all of those, impacting the flow of goods and that pace of flow.”
Even getting chemicals and supplies, once in the country, to where they need to go. “Out to rural areas, the long-distance hauls that a lot of folks haven’t had to make over the last year, and are now being asked to make, changes a lot of the cultural norms we’ve started to get adjusted to, as well.”
Truckers, warehouse workers, airline employees, and others are in short supply. And as Omicron cases surge and hospitals hit capacity, some economists are now predicting growth could slow next year.