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Supply chain challenges, labor shortages affecting the local mushroom industry – Daily Local

According to Rachel Roberts, president of the American Mushroom Institute, the current market for a significantly reduced agricultural labor market combined with a global supply chain shortage, transportation availability constraints, and the seasonal threat of crop illness. Power is the number one factor influencing mushroom production.

NEW GARDEN — Pennsylvania’s $ 1.2 billion mushroom industry is steadily working to overcome obstacles to its supply chain and labor shortages.

Like other agricultural sectors across the country, the federal mushroom industry continues to face a labor shortage of about 25%, according to Rachel Roberts, director of the American Mushroom Institute.

This labor shortage existed before 2020, when the pandemic shutdown worsened. For example, some companies in Chester County are currently facing a labor shortage of one-third as the winter of 2021 approaches.

The Pennsylvania mushroom industry generates $ 18 million in annual tax revenues.

In addition, each year, “the industry supports about 9,400 jobs and earns $ 313 million,” Roberts said.

“Pennsylvania mushroom farmers and their workers are not only working in Chester County, but also part of the community. Here they raise their families, send their children to schools here and into the communities where they work and live. I’m giving back, “says Roberts.

She said that 64 percent of agricultural workers have been in the industry for over a decade. “This industry helps support a variety of other industries,” said Roberts. “This helps make Kennett Square one of the most popular small towns in Pennsylvania.

Kennett Square, the historic hub of industry in the region, is well known nationally and globally as the “Mushroom Capital of the World”.

Southeastern Pennsylvania has completed 60% of mushroom production in the United States, and 50 family-owned commercial mushroom farms operate in the Kennett Square area.

But today, in addition to the ongoing labor shortage across the industry, some of the key raw materials needed to grow mushrooms are either unavailable or available at high cost to meet recent demand and are available. What you can do is sparse. And as an agricultural product, the well-being of the crop is always relevant. There are also transportation constraints that affect the entire supply chain network of American mushroom producers throughout North America.

“The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for mushrooms, and this year is no exception,” Roberts said. “But our members say they are facing the challenge of getting the raw materials they need to grow mushrooms and the costs are rising. They are all small labor markets.”

Residents of Chester County may not be able to help freighters cope with labor shortages in ports that have been backed up for miles and months, but as consumers, people are still here. Can make a difference to support the mushroom industry. For one thing, people can continue to buy mushrooms at the grocery store or while eating out.

“Mushroom farms are doing what they can to combat these headwinds, harvesting, packing and shipping mushrooms 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” says Roberts.

In addition to the labor shortage, the main product that is abundantly scarce today is peat moss, an important element of compost in the mushroom-growing world.

Anthony Leone of Mushroom Central Supply said at Baltimore Pike in 1290: Toughkenamon in New Garden.

These shortages, which Mushroom Central Supply usually sells to local farmers, range from plastics to shovels, Leone said Friday. The company purchases major industrial supplies from state distributors that import from abroad to the United States.

Container ships backed up at the port, for example, led one supplier to back up with more than 60 drums, but that supplier usually backlogs one or two drums.

According to Leone, orders to customers in May last year continue to be delayed, and each time an order is scheduled to be delivered, the supplier will call another to add another 30 days delay. join. “

The industry needs specific materials for agricultural production and takes years to obtain state and federal approval to implement within the industry to ensure high quality growth standards for American consumption You may.

“When something becomes available, I usually order twice what I need, so the next time I call, there’s some fallback in case it’s not there.”

Leone added: “Unfortunately it works because it’s what we want to do, but it exacerbates the problem for everyone else. There is another company that wants to buy it and I just bought a double And if they couldn’t get it first, and now they’re out longer. It’s happening everywhere, and I don’t know when it will stop. “

“The most difficult I’ve seen”

Leone has been working in the mushroom industry for 21 years.

“This is the most difficult year I’ve seen,” he said, adding that 2021 is “the most difficult year, especially for producers.” I had a hard time for a year. There is no exit for anything. No matter where you look, you turn your back because no one has it, whether it’s a harvester or a product you need. Everything was just a waiting game. “Hurry up, wait” basically. “

Still, Leone agrees with the rest of the community, and the mushroom industry will not only survive the obstacles affecting local businesses today, but will eventually prosper again in the end.

“The mushroom industry has been around for a long time,” Leone said. “There have been ups and downs over the years.

As for the solution, he said, “whether it will be more efficient how we do business and find alternatives to the products we normally depend on.”

This includes finding other products that producers need for production, Leone said. “I’m sure they understand something — they’re a group of wise people.”

One of the leaders in the American mushroom industry is Joseph Baschani, Chief Financial Officer of the Baschani Group of Companies, a fifth-generation company run by descendants of Mario and Anna Baschani. As previously reported, this business is one of the largest vertically integrated mushroom conglomerates in North America.

Founded in 1925, the company operates more than 100 mushroom growing rooms. The Basciani Group of Companies is headquartered near the Avondale Municipal Line in New Garden on 944 Penn Green Road in southern Chester County, just a few miles from Kennett Square.

“The mushroom industry offers big wages,” Joseph Baschani said on Friday. He said all companies in the industry that employ employees are incredibly loyal and flexible.

“Many of us are confused about why we can’t find a workforce,” he said. There is no exact answer. “

In addition to being well paid to those employed in the industry, there are opportunities for profit and growth

Busy mushroom packing place. In Chester County, the industry operates on average 25% of the labor shortage.

es.

“The industry is a really generous employer,” said Basciani. “It’s just mysterious.”

Basciani added that there is a misconception that working in agriculture and getting your hands dirty is unsophisticated. “But that’s a misunderstanding,” he emphasized. “It requires a lot of skill and determination,” and there is strong compensation for it.

Nationwide, some people are collecting unemployment that originated from last year’s pandemic unemployment. In addition, in recent years, new work competitors, including Amazon, have emerged in the region.

However, it is also adopted by the mushroom industry.

“There is plenty of room for growth,” says Basciani.

“Mushrooms are a very perishable item in mild agriculture that needs to be harvested by hand,” said Baschani.

There is also a high level of leadership available in the industry, especially for those who are trying to enter the agricultural aspect of mushroom production.

“Mushrooms are nutritious, delicious and versatile foods,” said Roberts, Chairman of the American Mushroom Institute. “Mushrooms are suitable for all kinds of healthy diet plans and can be used for breakfast (eggs and toasts), lunch (salads), entrees and side dishes for dinner. Rich in vitamins and nutrients. It contains little or no fat, calories, and cholesterol. “

For jobs where workers are in short supply, it means that there are leadership positions available, Basciani said.

“There are so many opportunities,” Basciani said.

Industry advocates petition DC for change

The crux of the labor shortage is that, unlike other agricultural products, the mushroom industry does not currently have a visa program for workers. There are H2A temporary workers programs used by many segments of agriculture. However, mushrooms are grown all year round, so the industry is not eligible to apply under current federal regulations.

The American Mushroom Institute and hundreds of agricultural and labor partners across the United States continue to advocate laws and policies in DC that enable a legal and reliable workforce.

In March, the Peasant Labor Modernization Act passed the US House of Representatives and is currently awaiting its introduction in the US Senate.

Among other provisions, the federal bill, HR 1603, establishes the status and operation of certified agricultural workers.

In southeastern Pennsylvania, skilled workers are harvesting mushrooms.

H-2A Temporary Workers Program, including the mushroom industry. If the law is enacted, the bill will address existing trained and skilled workers (the average mushroom industry worker has been with the average mushroom industry for 16 years, according to the American Mushroom Institute) for many years in the industry. Allow as many as needed to fill the labor gap. ..

On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives Agricultural Commission held a hearing in Washington, DC entitled “Immediate Challenges to Our Country’s Food Supply Chain.”

“The American Mushroom Institute has strong relationships with federal, state and local representatives, who understand the plight of our members.
In the early days of the pandemic, the government invested in the food system and took swift action to work together to keep the supply chain running, “said Roberts. “To mitigate these challenges, it is imperative that governments work urgently with all parts of the supply chain.”

Supply chain challenges, labor shortages affecting the local mushroom industry – Daily Local

Source link Supply chain challenges, labor shortages affecting the local mushroom industry – Daily Local

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