Bare shelves concern Alaskans from Ketchikan to Fairbanks - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, January 29, 2022
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Bare shelves concern Alaskans from Ketchikan to Fairbanks

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Across Alaska, hundreds of citizens have taken part in the #BareShelvesBiden project created by Must Read Alaska on Facebook. We asked people to post their photos of bare shelves in their communities, and dozens of people already had the photos in their camera phones, ready to participate.

The increasingly bare shelves are on. many Alaskans’ minds. The MRAK “group project” had over 500 comments in two days, many with photos and descriptions of food shortages they are witnessing in stores.

Alaska is at the end of the supply chain. Those in the trucking field say that Anchorage, for example, only has a three-day supply of food on hand at any given time. And while food supply issues have always plagued rural Alaska, with delayed shipments, and sometimes stale provisions, those on the Railbelt and in Southeast haven’t seen it like this since the 1960s.

The problem is not exclusive to Alaska. From Memphis to Milwaukee, news organizations are reporting on shortages on the shelves. In Seattle, the mainstream media said the problem is currently due to weather. But flying over Seattle in December, it was clear to this writer that even then, the shipping containers were stacked up at the port and on barges for miles, as the supply chain has been stalling for months. There were 20 container ships waiting for their turn to pull up to the dock. It’s not looking much better in January.

Seattle freight docks, Dec. 15, 2021, with containers being stored for miles.

The shortage problem has seemed to be more widespread in recent weeks, and the mainstream media blames it on the Omicron variant of Covid, labor shortages, and now the weather.

Nationwide grocery shortages of produce, meats, and dairy are especially noticeable, while things like dog kibble and packaged cereal also missing at times. Right now, the unavailability rate of grocery goods around the country is about 15 percent, according to a Seattle Times report that quoted Consumer Brands Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman.

Some industry experts say that tuckers are a big factor and that there are between 20,000-80,000 fewer long-haul truckers now than there were before the Covid pandemic.

Labor unions dispute that, and say that there is no shortage of truckers, but many just don’t like the working conditions.

“There’s no trucker shortage; there’s a trucker retention problem created by the poor conditions that sprung up in the industry in the wake of 1980s deregulation. Turnover for truck drivers in fleets with more than $30 million of annual revenue was 92% at the end of 2020, meaning roughly 9 out of every 10 drivers will no longer be working for that company in a year, reported Time Magazine in December.

“​​There’s no shortage of workers, that’s the narrative that gets propagated by industry leaders,” said Mike Chavez, the executive director of the Inand Empire Labor Institute, according to the magazine. “We still have a lot of positions that can’t be filled because of the working conditions.”

Truckers can’t get to Alaska through Canada without proof of vaccination for Covid, another hurdle for the state.

Food security is on the radar of Gov. Mike Dunleavy. He asked for and received from the Legislature $4 million in food security money in 2021 to help sustain communities on the Yukon when salmon runs failed and there was no point in putting nets in the water.

In the 2023 proposed budget, the governor has a $25 million ask from the Legislature for a food security agriculture incentive program, to enhance the grow-our-own, farm-to-table safety net, encouraging new farms and bettering storage capacity. He wants more Alaskans to get interested in being part of the Alaska farming sector. That item is in his Capital Budget request on Page 5.

Dunleavy is also advancing a bond package that has food security baked into it. In it, there are hundreds of millions of dollars to repair the fragile Port of Alaska in Anchorage, to build out Port MacKenzie, and to upgrade the Port in Seward, all with the intention of creating more redundancy in the shipping sector, in case of a major earthquake or other disaster that impacts the ability to unload cargo containers that supply most of the state.

The Port of Seattle is already working to relieve the congestion of its containers. Just this week, cargo ships began unloading at a new terminal, which will alleviate some of that area’s supply chain problems, and may help Alaska in a few weeks, as the congestion in Seattle eases.

The new Terminal 5 has the largest cranes on the West Coast, and can unload the largest ships. It will increase the port’s capacity by about 40 percent when fully open in two years. Right now, it’s just half open.

The Port of Seattle started unloading cargo ships at a brand new terminal this week. That will help with some of the region’s current supply chain issues. But it won’t solve the whole problem.

For now, the bare shelves in Alaska and across the country continue to worry shoppers, who are watching prices go one way, and availability go the other in the Biden economy.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Let’s go Brandon!!!
    Wow only a year for this administration, imagine another couple years of this.
    No boarders, no financial security, no military strengthing, no food, health-care crumbling and fuel prices up 57%. Cost each household a average of 5000 more a year just to live.

    • The economy is actually booming. And oil prices going up is good for Alaska. Do you have a Biden flag out front of your house this year?

      • John, the level of your manifest denial of reality (and/or dishonesty) is positively breathtaking.
        .
        “The economy is actually booming”? Yeah, and the sky is pink and grass is black. But who are we going to believe, you or our lying eyes!
        .
        PS: Let’s go Brandon!

        • Jeff, do you think annual GDP growth of 5.5% is bad? The fact is, the US economy is seeing GDP growth and employment higher than anything we’ve seen in the last 25 years. If you have a problem with that, feel free to present some bad numbers to go with it. Otherwise, you’re just whining like usual.

          • John,
            1) GDP figures are so massaged (just like official inflation statistics) as to be grossly UNreflective of the actual, REAL (i.e., non-financial) economy,
            2) A rise of 5% on top of a drop of 20+% is hardly news to cheer.

          • Jeff, why would you pretend GDP numbers are not reliable? Trump lived and died by GDP numbers. He never whined like you and tried to claim they weren’t real though.

            A GDP rise is good news. You disagreed with the fact the economy is booming. Your argument is that the numbers are fake, and even if they are real, they’re not good enough.

            In other words, Jefferson, you can be ignored, as you eventually got around to admitting your claims are bogus.

            Got any other weak attempts to deflect? We’re done here. Walk it off.

          • John, anyone with any sense or intelligence has realized for many years that the numbers spouted by the BL(B)S on GDP and inflation are hopelessly disconnected from reality, and are much more pro-establishment propaganda than honest reflections of economic reality.
            Your apparent gullibility and trust in the corrupt and failing power structure is so profound that I refuse to believe that YOU believe the obvious and laughable lies that you routinely spout and repeat here. You are clearly a paid or otherwise incentivized troll sent here to spread pro-establishment lies and disinformation.

      • No but how’s that PFD treating you? That’s the money we Alaskans want! If we’re rolling in it where is it? Hmmmm? Economy would be really rolling with all the PFD money our lazy legislators didn’t choose to give us. Please vote and get the right legislators in. Vote! Amen!

        • Oil prices on the rise. That means more income for the state. Maybe our lawmakers will finally fund the government and can give Alaskans their PFDs as well.

      • Things are going so great 2 more Democrat Congressmen announced their retirement yesterday. That’s 26 at last count. And more to come I’m sure as Biden continues to attack the energy industry making everything more expensive.

  • Don’t worry, there are no shortages of anything, and for those goods that are currently unavailable, all shortages are purely transitory. Anyway, as the Biden regime will tell us again and again, it’s all the fault of the unvaccinated (sic). Get your jabs and everything will be peaches and cream!

    • Keeping beating that dead horse as the world goes on without you.

      • That horse is not a dead one, yet anyway, Greg.

    • According to suppliers, the shortages are largely due to extreme winter weather. Of course you’d like to make it political. It just isn’t.

      • Yeah, and the current inflation (soon to be hyperinflation) is merely “transitory”, right John.
        .
        Get the hell out of here with your ridiculously insulting lies.

        • Are you saying inflation is the reason shelves are bare?

          And what lies are you referring to? Airlines across the country are canceling thousands of flights due to winter storms. Storms in the Pacific Northwest are devestating, and that directly impacts supplies going to Alaska.

          How about you come up with something rather than constantly whining? Why do others always have to educate you? Why can’t you be a grown adult?

          • And why can’t you try looking at and seeing reality for once, John, instead of being a blind conformist and servile lackey to the corrupt power structure?

          • Jefferson, tell me the sky is pink some more while you cry about reality being unfair.

            There’s your victim complex, right on time as usual.

            Are you getting tired of losing?

  • No shortages here. I’d be scared if still in AK though.

    • There are more “Food shortage” videos on YouTube than cat videos right now…

  • Born and raised in Alaska. You should always have one to two weeks of food and water stocked up at all times due to us being at the “end of the road”, so to speak. Stop trying to blame the President. The last time I checked, it was not in his job description to ensure grocery stores stocked their shelves.

    • We probably had 2 months reserve in the bush, but yeah, everything is Brandon’s fault.

    • Nice shilling for a failure of a President

    • It’s also not in his “job description” or the oath he took at the 2021 inauguration to workaround the legislative process and courts of the land like he has tried to do with the OSHA mandates, which by the way have interrupted the delivery of food to the stores preventing them from stocking their shelves.

    • It’s not the job of our duly appointed president to destroy the supply chain, but he’s doing it.

    • None of this shortage [email protected] under Russian puppet Trump, even as his incompetence was endangering all life on earth and the Pandemic was in full force without ANY vaccines. What’s different now? #mandates #noearlytreatment

      • Progressives and their TDS. All you can do is laugh at them at this point.

        • Obama was correct when he said, “Never underestimate Joe’s ability to f*ck things up.

      • You already forgot about the shortages of 2020?

    • Ok now you reveal you are in the bush. Apologies. Many of us are very tired of out of state people Stirring the pot. Our apologies. In the end, nobody really cares what we think so this is all nothing more than a soap opera.

    • That may be true, but you’ll recall we saw none of this when president Trump was in office.
      So, I would direct you to the poor policies of the current president. Still think he’s not to blame?
      No one is blinder than he who will not see.

  • Oh we’re not blaming just Brandon. That list is very, very long. Also, this is not something that is just happening to us, like say an earthquake. This is being done to us. By intent.

  • This is disinformation. The Biden regime has said that this has all been solved. And I agree, or I will be declared a domestic terrorist.

    • JMARK, thank you for reminding us of the magnanimity of our gallant and heroic president Joe Biden. I listened to President Biden speak about how he had taken time out from his busy day in between naps and placed one phone call to Harbor Officials relative to this subject. I have no doubt given Joe’s vast knowledge in these matters that he did not solve the issue.

      What we are actually seeing here regarding reports of empty store shelves is the work of domestic terrorists, aka, MAGA people, who are purposely pulling items away from fully stocked shelves in order to take staged photos of empty grocery store isle’s. This behavior should be punished swiftly and severely.

  • Doesn’t our ships/barges come out of the Port of Tacoma?

    • Yep. 3.5 day trip on the water for the 2x per week steamship and roughly 3 weeks for a barge to make the same trip.

  • Instead of those billions the Walker administration wasted planning a gasline with China, someone should have built indoor growing facilities across the state. The indoor growing technology is so advanced that a connex size container can yield large amounts of edible greens. This state is too focused on gas & mining instead of actually working on a sustainable food plan.

    • Steve Stine, we as individuals can work on our own sustainable food plan. Upon hearing of Xiden’s selection to office I immediately purchased materials to enlarge my garden. As a student of history I can tell you that Totalitarians loathe free markets and free people and love Central Control of the economy especially when it comes to food and medicine. You see nothing gets peoples attention like an empty stomach!
      So, stock up on items as you can and enlarge that garden this Summer!

      • Robert, care to guess which president in history tried to overrule a free and fair election in order to retain power? If you’re a student of history and all…

        • Who? And don’t say Trump because the election wasn’t fair.

          • Wait, what? What wasn’t fair?

        • “Free and fair election”
          .
          “Safe and effective vaccines”
          .
          Got any other good ones for us, John?
          .
          PS: Tell us (because you never have yet), what does it feel like to be a shill and a servile lackey for corrupt authority? Does being a spineless conformist give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside?

          • Time to present evidence of election fraud. How are those cyber ninjas doing, Jeff?

            Also, time to present data showing vaccines aren’t safe. Anti vaxxers have never published a credible study. Sorry.

            Don’t cry Jeff. Put your money where your mouth is. Or fly a kite.

          • The evidence of the 2020 election fraud is all out there for examination, John, but all the evidence in the world will not matter if blinkered and compromised people like you, who apparently exist in a self-referential corporate media bubble of fantasy and establishment propaganda, refuse to see it.

          • The courts have all agreed there is no evidence of fraud. So you continue to lie, Jefferson. What do we call people who lie?

            You lost. Get over it. and quiting lying.

          • The courts refused to even examine the massive evidence of coordinated voting fraud in the 2020 election, John — which, once again, makes you the liar and deceiver, not me.
            .
            Who pays you to troll your specious pro-establishment talking points here, anyway? NEVER have I seen you engage in any kind of honest or logical discussion or argument here — you invariably just repeat, over and over, your pro-status-quo, pro-powers-that-be propaganda and sound bites. Very lame, and very obvious, John.

        • Biden was installed. That was far from a”free and fair “ election.
          A standard is only a standard if you apply it to yourself as well as everyone else.

          • Things crazy people say for $1,000?

    • I’m envisioning huge geothermal powered “container farms” across the inlet and massive bison ranches all over Alaska. Time to put land in private hands so it can be put to use.

  • Great! It’ll put an end to the obesity epidemic, not to mention adult-onset diabetes and other gluttonous maladies. Move south, snowflakes- you never belonged up here anyways.

    • No s* exactly.

  • Us “Conspiracy Theorists” have tried to warn others for well over a year now about this orchestrated food shortage. There’s nothing accidental about this planned supply chain breakdown. We also told you the would blame it on the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic or new variant outbreak.
    So far, ALL of our so called “conspiracy theories” have come to fruition and continue to do so. Two weeks to “flatten the curve” turned into years, mandated vaccines, vaccine passports just to name a few as you all called us nutcases.
    ****
    As I type this, (and while the MSM ignores it) they are currently erecting a concrete wall around the most fortified location in the USA, the White House. Why? Because things are about to get really crappy with the release of information concerning the vaccines. As Russia seizes the US Bioweapons labs in Kazakhstan, as China hoards 3/4 of all the worlds grain and corn supply, and the US Government is gearing up for Martial Law you are to busy bashing the big, bad, evil orange man to take notice of the impending life changing events that are about to devastate you.

    • Seems like your conspiracies have all failed to come to fruition. The prediction that the pandemic would last more than 2 weeks was accepted by most everyone. The reason for flattening the curve was to reduce hospital strain and mortality rates. Which it did. The rest of your conspiracies are still just that.

      • Poor John Seymour. Hawking his MCM delusions in hopes that people ignore the reality around them. At this point we can only count on community efforts as Brandon destroys energy production, supply chains, food production and pumps his useless jabs.

        Gear up folks. Get away from major cities. Stash up food and prepare to fend off the John Seymour’s of the world when Brandon succeeds in destroying the lower 48.

        • What are you crying about now, Jay? I don’t follow.

      • Today’s so-called “conspiracy theories” are tomorrow’s news.
        Over and over we have seen this happen in just the last two years.
        .
        I will remind you that draconian measures such as society-wide lockdowns, mask and vaccine (sic) mandates, and now vaccine (sic) passports, along with the artificial and genetically-engineered nature of the Wuhan Virus, were all “conspiracy theories” a mere two years ago.

        • Nope, didn’t happen… (sarcasm)

        • Show me that election fraud, jeff

          • Open your eyes and your mind to the evidence, John.
            .
            Sadly, you can lead a radical leftist to the water of reality, but you can’t make him think.

  • Its going to be alright! Besides if you are 20-40 lbs and more overweight you can live off your fat. Which most americans are count your blessings you are fully stocked! Hahahaha

  • Sure would be nice to have a rail link to the L48… just sayin

    • Brian,
      You prefer empty rail cars?

  • Please support the governor’s changes to his lands bill that the legislature failed to pass last year. Those changes would improve regulations associated with the state’s Ag covenants that have been a plague on farmers efforts since the 80’s. More fee simple land for Alaskans is definitely part of a food security solution

  • If Russia invades the Ukraine and/or Red China moves on Taiwan we will see shortages of everything become more intense.

  • You are correct, Robert. Gardens will make a big difference and backyard chickens, etc. Does anyone remember the governor of Michigan forbidding people to work in their gardens or buy seeds, etc., in the early days of COVID? We have so many idiots ruining (running?) this country.

  • A big thanks to all the workers who are trying to keep us in food. We totally appreciate your efforts on the People’s behalf!

  • Why quote a union leader? They always say the same thing: Bad working conditions.
    Poor babies.

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