Articles > Persevering Through Spring Challenges

Persevering Through Spring Challenges

Apr 09, 2022

As each year passes, it gets harder to find people who are willing and able to work the demands of retail agriculture. Currently, the competition for qualified employees is extremely tough due to the large amount of available job opportunities and the high number of actively looking workers. But the challenge doesn’t stop there. Once we’ve hired a qualified employee, only half the battle has been won. The other half of the battle is being able to retain existing employees. Every sector of the workforce is facing this challenge, not just retail agriculture.

There are many factors contributing to the challenge: 

  • Retiring staff
  • The practice of younger people changing jobs more often and exploring different careers
  • In season demands of retail ag
  • Not as many farm kids to choose from 
  • Pay rates while trying to effectively manage overhead costs

As of late there are two areas that have been affected the most: CDL drivers and custom applicators. With that said, most job functions at your coop are short on employees and more importantly, short on applicants for open positions.

Every season presents unique challenges and spring 2022 will be no different. Yet, we remain committed to working through them and taking care of our patrons as we’ve done in the past. To accomplish this, it will take contributions and collaboration across all divisions of the co-op agronomy operations, agronomy sales, grain, energy, feed, etc. In the months ahead, you can expect to see members of the operations team putting in longer days than normal while doing their best to maintain safety standards, high customer service and manage the added stress of being away from their families. You may see members of our sales team driving tender trucks and delivering tanks in order to help get the job done. Behind the scenes, our office staff and management team have already gotten involved in various tasks and responsibilities in order to keep the daily operations of your coop running smoothly and with as little interruption as possible while still tending to the responsibilities of their ‘regular’ roles. As we move into spring, I ask for your patience and grace as we collectively work through this challenge. Our commitment to providing our patrons with the best products, services and agronomic information remains our top priority despite the challenges we face.

For a complete list of career openings at UFC please visit: ufcmn.com/careers. If you know of someone who is looking for a new career opportunity, please point them in our direction! Referrals from our patrons are always welcome and appreciated.

We look forward to serving you this spring, and to the warmer months ahead!

OPERATIONS AT A GLANCE

  • Most of the fertilizer and crop protection products are in our bins, tanks, and warehouses for the upcoming spring season.
  • Near completion of updating and replacing worn out legs at the Winthrop fertilizer plant along with upgrading computer software at both Brownton and Winthrop locations.
  • Agronomy team is wrapping up the winter maintenance and inspection of all rolling stock. UFC will be ready to hit the fields when conditions allow.

  • UFC has updated two trucks to haul fertilizer out of the Brownton location along with a new CASE IH sprayer out of the Winthrop location equipped with the latest technology on the market today.

  • The operations team has completed three days of product knowledge and application training from all major crop protection manufacturers.


​ADDITIONAL DETAILS YOU NEED TO KNOW

In my Fall 2021 Fieldviews article, I highlighted challenges the industry was facing due to supply
chain disruptions and geo-political influences. With spring at our doorstep, I wanted to circle back on
these topics and share additional details and new developments with you. Educating our patrons on agronomic products and services is important, but the last year has demonstrated the importance of staying up to speed on global and national market influences, geo-political influences, supply and demand trends and economic trends. As your partner in agriculture, sharing the latest economic and market updates with you is a responsibility we take seriously. By sharing these updates with you, our goal is to help you understand and prepare for the season ahead.
 

  • Last fall we spoke about trade and logistic delays and how both are impacting UFC’s access to crop protection products – mainly glysphosate and glufosinate. We continue to face this challenge today. Manufacturers and distributors continue to place products on allocation. To combat this challenge, our team has adapted a heightened attention to detail in order to maintain our supply and deliver according to our patrons’ needs.
  • The price of fertilizer products remains at levels none of us are comfortable with! There are a few variables at play. First, China has not lifted its ban on phosphate and urea exports creating a ripple effect of trade imbalances and market volatility that is being felt globally. Second, increased demand from countries like India (which are taking a big bite out of the already limited supply) are keeping the markets bullish.
  • New since fall: the world’s third largest potash producing country, Belarus, has had sanctions placed against them for political reasons which has dramatically reduced their ability to export. Unfortunately, potash prices have increased recently as a result.
  • Urea, the most traded fertilizer in the world, has been up and down for the last five weeks. With heightened tensions in eastern Europe and likely sanctions on Russia, the market is expected to remain volatile and priced on the high side.
-Jim Carlson, Vice President of Agronomy


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