santa claus with empty sack

By Romeo Agbalog, Executive Director, Kern County Farm Bureau

Romeo Agbalog
Kern County Farm Bureau Executive Director, Romeo Agbalog

We’re all familiar with the lyrics of the classic Christmas song, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” (Coots and Gillespie, 1934). Whichever rendition you prefer whether Bing Crosby, Mariah Carey, Sinatra, or Springsteen, the verse each vocalist emphasizes that stokes enthusiasm and anticipation in both young and old announcing the Christmas holiday and the near arrival of gifts and festivities is, “Santa Claus is coming to town.” But nowhere in the melody and lyrics is the question asked: But what if Santa Claus is late?

Now there is no need to panic, most certainly Christmas will be celebrated on December 25th, as it always has, but the part about the arrival of gifts is what I am referring to. Just what if that special gift or item you have been behaving for all year is stuck at one of the world’s ports? The ports are like the modern-day North Pole filled with goods and products set to traverse the oceans en route to consumers, both naughty and nice, spread out across the globe. Farmers and ranchers too rely on this modern-day North Pole and the supply chain that moves produce, fabric, and other commodities to consumers around the world.

So why the delays? Well, there are a number of kinks in the supply chain that have resulted in massive delays and skyrocketing prices. These issues, on top of being in peak shipping season include weather conditions, labor shortages, lack of empty shipping containers, congested ports, and terminals, lagging inventory, and the residual effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, new restrictions have all contributed to slowing the supply chain to a near halt and cost increases affecting farmers. Further, the inability to export commodities has saturated the domestic market affecting prices.

To reference another holiday classic with a verse that says, “all I want for Christmas,” at this point “all I want for Christmas” is a fix to the kinks in the supply chain (Carey and Afanasieff, 1994). The fixes do not even have to come through by way of the modern North Pole, nor do they have to be delivered by Santa. They could however come from the legislature, the governor, and the federal administration. Now, if only the fixes could, like Santa, arrive on time.

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