Kansas lawmakers urge action as supply chain shortages affect Thanksgiving, auto manufacturers

Live at Five
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 11:46 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas lawmakers have urged action as supply chain shortages affect Thanksgiving as well as auto manufacturers.

Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly says she joined a bipartisan coalition of governors from across the nation to urge Congressional leadership to approve full funding of the Creating Helpful Incentives for the Production of Semiconductors for America Act.

Gov. Kelly said she joined Govs. Tony Evers, Wisconsin; Roy Cooper, North Carolina; Andy Beshear, Kentucky; Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania; Kay Ivey, Alabama; J.B. Pritzker, Illinois; Gavin Newsom, California; and Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan, to send a letter to Congress to urge quick action to fund the bipartisan program.

According to Gov. Kelly, the bill is meant to turbocharge U.S. production of semiconductors, including the “mature node” chips which are crucial to automakers and parts suppliers, and strengthen the supply chain.

“As the global semiconductor shortage continues to challenge our automotive manufacturing industry and threaten our supply chain, it is critical that Congress take immediate action on the CHIPS Act,” Governor Kelly said. “I look forward to working with our federal partners – and with my fellow governors - to deliver solutions for our auto manufacturing industry that will secure our supply chain, create jobs, protect our workers, and further strengthen our state’s already booming economy.”

The Kansas Governor said the letter details supply challenges that have idled auto plants throughout the nation and have impacted over 575,000 auto-related jobs.

Gov. Kelly said the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act already passed the Senate and has included funding for the CHIPS Act re-shoring provisions. She said it includes $52 billion in incentives to boost domestic semiconductor production and research, $2 billion of which will be dedicated to incentivizing the production of the “mature node” semiconductors.

According to Gov. Kelly, the “mature node” semiconductors are also a key component for other manufacturing sectors including medical devices, agricultural machinery, and radiation-proof chips required by the national defense industrial base.

In the letter, the governors urge the House and Senate to find common ground on the USICA, including full funding for the CHIPS Act.

However, semiconductors are not the only shortage that has negatively impacted the nation’s supply chain.

U.S. Senators Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said they appeared at a news conference to discuss the rising cost of Thanksgiving as well as the supply chain issues that have kept typical holiday items off grocery store shelves this season.

The Wall Street Journal indicates Thanksgiving turkeys are over 60% out of stock, cranberry sauce is 20% out of stock, sweet potatoes are 25% out of stock and refrigerated pies are 26% out of stock.

“Inflation is slamming the heartland with consumer prices up 7.3% in the Midwest. Unfortunately, it is here to stay as long as President Biden and the Democrats keep up with their reckless taxing, reckless borrowing, and reckless spending,” said Sen. Marshall. “Inflation is hurting everyone this Thanksgiving, but none more than our seniors and young hard-working families living paycheck to paycheck. I’m disappointed grocery stores will have short stock supplies and that the price of Thanksgiving dinner will be more expensive for Kansans. That said, I am thankful this Thanksgiving as we live in the greatest country in the world.”

As for inflation hitting Thanksgiving items, the Senators said the Bureau of Labor Statistics found the price for Thanksgiving turkey is up 18% from 2020 while potatoes are up 17%. They also said the price of green beans rose 38% from 2020 while eggs, bacon and butter are almost 30% more costly than they were last year.

“Soaring inflation and supply chain woes will make this Thanksgiving our most expensive in history,” said Sen. Moran. “Kansans know that, they see it, and they are conveying it to their elected officials. I co-chair the Senate Hunger Caucus and the demand for services this Thanksgiving season at our food banks is increasing dramatically as more and more people can no longer afford that Thanksgiving meal. Inflation is hurting everyone, from those at the checkout counter to farmers and ranchers producing food for our Thanksgiving tables.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Congressman Jake LaTurner (KS-02) says he and House Oversight Republicans called on U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to delay the implementation of the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for USDA employees until the department can explain how it will make up for the potential loss of staff.

Representative LaTurner said he had concerns with current vacancies at the Farm Service Agency and the COVID-19 vaccine mandate’s potential to impair the economy, food supply and national security while so many industries have already been affected by supply chain shortages.

“I have heard from countless farmers and ranchers across Kansas that are deeply concerned with President Biden’s overreaching and unprecedented vaccine mandates. Our agriculture communities rely on Farm Service Agency employees to deliver and implement critical Farm Bill programs,” said LaTurner. “If the USDA pushes forward with these mandates, we will undoubtedly see a spike in FSA vacancies, making it harder for Kansas farmers and ranchers to feed, fuel, and clothe our nation.”

LaTurner said local and state FSA offices have played a pivotal role in interacting with the agriculture community. He said 11 months into the new Administration, the USDA has only appointed seven state FSA Directors, which do not require Senate confirmation.

According to LaTurner, recruiting and retaining local and state FSA personnel is a complex and slow process. He said the vaccine mandate will only exacerbate this issue and result in the loss of decades of experience and knowledge.

To read the full text of Rep. LaTurner’s letter, click HERE.

To read the full text of the letter sent by Gov. Kelly, click HERE.

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