A strike involving thousands of John Deere employees is now a little more than a day away from happening, and that possibility has some farmers fearing the worst.
Joe Dierickx, a corn and soybean farmer in Iowa, uses John Deere equipment, and he is currently busy with harvest season. He said whenever he’s needed parts for his John Deere equipment, he’s been able to get it at the nearest dealer or their distribution center.
But with the strike looming, he said the potential for parts being harder to get has him a bit concerned, especially since it is harvest season.
“It’s a little disconcerting to me that there’s a potential strike because the window for harvest for farmers in the fall is a fairly narrow window,” Dierickx said.
Dierickx has already dealt with equipment breaking during harvest season this year and said he was able to get the parts he needed within a few hours. Dierickx said he will need that kind of reliability to last all the way through harvest season, meaning he and other farmers with John Deere equipment likely can’t afford a strike and lack of accessibility to parts.
“Last week I had a bearing go out and a belt tensioner for the engine on my combine [harvester],” Dierickx said. “When the machine is down, there’s no more harvesting. So harvest stops and we have to wait until we can get it repaired. This strike can kind of eat into what they [John Deere] have been known for … having a good supply chain set up for all their customers and their dealers.”
John Deere said in a statement after Sunday’s union vote that they expect to continue operations as normal. But for now, Dierickx and other farmers are holding their breath, knowing this potential strike could put them in a tough spot.
“It’s a little unnerving, during harvest, to have this happen,” Dierickx said.