Fertilizer Supply Chain Issues Cause Challenges

Nov 23, 2021

Fertilizer Supply Chain Issues Cause Challenges
As we transition further into the busy season of fall fertilizer, we wanted to keep everyone informed on what Ag Partners’ anhydrous ammonia (NH3) business looks like behind the scenes.
Each fall, Ag Partners locations run between 17,000 and 18,000 tons of NH3, depending on how the weather works out. Of those tons, most are prepaid by our customers. With our 14 main NH3 plants and nurse tanks, we hold close to 3,300 tons of inventory, which is filled during the summer months. Without including direct farm loads, that leaves us with about 13,000 tons to haul in during November and December from Enid, OK, Conway, KS and Beatrice, NE.
If a truck hauls out of Enid, it can typically make one load per day. A trucker hauling from Conway can usually get two loads, or maybe three if they’re aggressive and times it right or is hauling to our southern region. In comparison, loads from Beatrice are usually how we can keep product in our tanks during the season.
As of today, there are very few suppliers of NH3 in our area, which makes us reliant on one when referring to overall supply and delivery timing. This year, Ag Partners was required to buy 6,500 tons out of Enid, much more than in the past, due to the lack of product available at other plants. In addition, we were only granted 5,500 tons out of Beatrice, with the remaining balance coming from Conway.
Ag Partners requested early on to have an average of 15 trucks per day delivered to us out of Enid, which would have taken them 22 days to haul all our purchased tons. Unfortunately, we are averaging way less than that due to truck driver shortages and other logistical issues. We have tried several times to transfer contracts to the closer locations, but our supplier feels they cannot provide that. We also attempted to buy more tons out of Beatrice at the current price to cut down on time we spend out of product but were only granted one-third of our request.
As an industry, we are in the fourth week of an unbelievable fall fertilizer run with no weather breaks in the system so far. One wholesaler who oversees dispatching to retailers such as Ag Partners told us yesterday that he has never seen anything like this, never been this far behind, and has no idea how far behind he truly is. The truckers who are available have been putting in countless hours of overtime but will face further setbacks with the Thanksgiving holiday slowing supply to a crawl until next week. However, our supplier has assured us that Ag Partners will have additional trucking resources starting on December 1 and our name is on additional tons from Beatrice that will be available December 2.
Moving forward, we will be dispatching whatever NH3 supply we can get equally across our regions as efficiently as possible to keep our locations with product. Our extreme west territory is expected to finish soon after missing the last rain that came through our region.
With the Thanksgiving holiday further slowing our supply, and the amount of overtime that our crews have already put in through harvest and into fertilizer season, Ag Partners locations will close the evening of Wednesday, November 24, and reopen Monday, November 29. 
We appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience as we continue to work with the resources available to us. If you have questions, please reach out to your local location or to Ben Zimmerman (785-313-1405), Wes Spohr (316-833-7268) or Brian Winkler (785-294-0082).

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