Los Angeles and Long Beach ports have a backup of cargo ships that extends all the way to San Diego. Coupled with a shortage of truck drivers and warehouse workers, there are reports of a lack of goods on the shelves affecting different sectors. Here in Monterey County, the agriculture industry—the county’s largest—is seeing some of these impacts. Norm Groot, executive director at Monterey County Farm Bureau says getting farm operations supplies such as hand tools, gloves and clamshell containers has been challenging. Groot says that if growers run out of tools and equipment with a slow resupply timeline, it could hinder production and harvesting season. County Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales says several growers have mentioned a shortage of wood pallets that are used to store and transport goods.
Overall, the impact of delayed shipments is relatively minor. Other factors loom larger for ag. Adding another layer of uncertainty are issues like water supply, labor shortages and inflation. Groot says some smaller growers have decided to lease out their land instead of growing produce themselves.
Chris Christian, senior vice president at the California Strawberry Commission, says strawberry farmers are seeing delays and price increases in supplies like drip tape (for irrigation) and mulch film, which prevents moisture loss, due to the port issues. But she does not expect to see acres in strawberry production decrease next year.
Exporting goods could become an issue. “When you’re dealing with a perishable product that you want to ship, it has to be done pretty quick,” Groot says.
By the time the Salinas Valley’s next spring harvesting season starts, “we are hoping the export of our products is much smoother,” Groot says. “When we look at the entire context of what we do here, and the markets that we supply, export is an important element of our economy here.” (The biggest trading partners for Monterey County are Mexico and Canada.)