In early 2021, an intense cold blast gripped the central U.S. and forced grid operators to plunge nearly five million homes and businesses into darkness, primarily in Texas. Some of the country's largest oil refineries (Saudi Aramco Motiva Enterprises, Marathon Petroleum, Exxon Mobil, and Total Southeast) shut down completely and reduced the availability of gasoline, diesel, and ethanol. Chief energy regulators called for rationing of gas supplies to help curb the crisis and natural gas demand exceeded supply.
This single event caused millions of dollars in damage and losses across the U.S. and has brought some energy companies to their knees. It was a test of energy infrastructure capabilities and exposed major vulnerabilities across multiple sectors, including agri-food.
The deep freeze disrupted shipments of corn and soybeans, and farmers and ranchers saw devastating effects from the weather on livestock. Some dairy operations were forced to eliminate milk from the value chain because processing plants did not have power.
As the U.S. moves toward more electrification, this and other remaining vulnerabilities should be addressed to ensure the continued resiliency of the agri-food value chain.