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How to Prepare for Supply Chain Disruptions

I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but it appears we are heading for some troubling times ahead, and it’s time for producers to prepare accordingly.

Labor shortages. Rolling blackouts. Ports overflowing with ships unable to dock and unload. Fuel prices rising. Food prices skyrocketing. Inflation taking off again. Power outages in China. Vaccine mandates pushing employees out of jobs leading to greater labor shortages. Parts for equipment on major backorder. New regulations. Increased taxes. Government overreach. Lockdowns. Mandates.

The list of potential supply chain disruptions continues to grow, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see we aren’t out of the woodworks when it comes to pandemic-related outages, shortages, malfunctions, and chaos.

Back at home on the ranch, these problems may seem obscure and beyond your day-to-day worries; however, our just-in-time manufacturing and delivery systems have some major vulnerabilities that can and will impact consumers, retailers, packers, feeders, stockers, and cow-calf producers alike.

While some shortages and supply chain delays may just be minor inconveniences, others could become catastrophic depending on your circumstances.

So, what can you do at home to prepare for these disruptions?

It’s time to look six months, one year, and beyond when looking at your inventory of feed and supplies and plan accordingly.

Don’t wait until the last minute to stock up on your cattle business essentials. Order early. Order in bulk. And stockpile what you need well in advance of when you need it.

Create a checklist of what you need to operate in the coming months, and prepare now. Certainly your operation could use some extra tax deductions with business expenses purchased in Q4, so if anything, use that as motivation to make your purchases and lock in prices before the end of the year.

Ask yourself these questions as you prepare:

How much feed do you have on hand?

How long would your feed inventory last if deliveries were delayed?

How about your equipment? Do you have spare parts and essentials to do simple repairs if your dealership is backordered and unable to service your equipment?

Do you have backup equipment for feeding and hauling in case you have a major breakdown?

How about fuel? How many months do you have in storage?

What about water? If a major weather event occurs, do you have multiple ways to water your cattle?

Let’s think about generators next. Are they in working order and ready to roll as needed?

Calving season kicks off in December and January for some folks. Do you have everything you need? Bedding? Tags? Milk replacer and colostrum?

What’s your medicine cabinet look like? Which products do you need for deworming and vaccinating?

How about treating illness? Do you have more on hand than you think you might need? What about yourself and the family? Do you have all of the winter gear you’ll need for doing chores in all types of weather?

How about food? Water? Toilet paper? While you’re taking inventory of what’s going on outside, be sure to check the pantry for essential household items you might need to keep your family operating even in dire situations.

When you’ve exhausted this list, consider the holidays, as well. Even Vice President Kamala Harris said in August that parents should purchase Christmas presents early if they want things under the tree because the Biden Administration is anticipating these supply chain disruptions.

Use these questions to jumpstart your readiness preparation. If no supply chain disruptions occur that impact your operation, you’re no worse for wear. Your operation will have what it needs, and you won’t have to stress about factors beyond your control.

You’re now ready for anything!

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