Input Security in Times of Crisis

( Darrell Smith )

You can’t eat at the local restaurant, the grocery store looks like some strange dystopian future where everyone wears masks and social distancing is strictly enforced in any public place. Nearly every part of your life outside the farm has changed since COVID-19 concerns peaked, and, in reality, there might even be a few changes on your farm or with your input suppliers, too.

When it comes to safety and input security, select suppliers tell farmers to rest assured: product will get to your door.

“When this crisis started to develop, one of the first steps we took was to make sure we have a secure supply in seed and crop protection products,” says Chris Turner, Bayer U.S. division head. “We have multiple storage facilities across the U.S. to make sure we can meet customer demands.”

For Indiana-based seed company Beck’s Hybrids, as soon as they started hearing about the crisis they rushed to get all seed products delivered quickly.

“We ramped up shipping efforts to ensure farmers did have seed on farm, just in case something even more drastic happened that could prevent delivery,” says Scott Beck, president of Beck’s Hybrids. “Our seed supply is pretty much set with no concern due to the coronavirus, with the exception of seed coming back from South America.”

South American production is typically some of the later seed to arrive. As of right now, South American-produced seed is coming in as expected.

On the crop protection, chemical, side of input supplies it could be trickier as many chemical manufacturing facilities are outside of the U.S. As of right now, there are no reported shortages.

“FMC maintains operations in more than 50 countries around the world, including China. The agriculture industry has closely partnered with associations and governments around the world to ensure crop protection companies such as FMC are able to continue supplying critical products to farmers,” FMC said in an emailed response to AgWeb questions.

Bayer’s Turner echoes FMC’s confidence in their chemical supply as well.

New safety measures

With so much uncertainty, companies are adapting to make sure they can still ‘meet,’ albeit virtually, with their customers to answer questions. Field days might look a lot different than farmers are accustomed to this year, too.

“We’re delivering agronomic expertise in a different way than we’ve ever done before,” Turner says. “In some regard, we’re reaching more customers in a timely fashion than we have in the past and I think in the future that will continue.”

Farmers and employees have been forced, through this crisis, to use technology in ways they’ve maybe never used it before—and that could impact the way they operate in the future.

“We’ll meet in person where it’s more effective still,” Becks says. “And we’ll use virtual meetings when it makes better sense. We’re a company that provides a lot of training events, field shows, trips, etc., we’re thinking about any changes we might have to make to those events during the summer.”

Read more on the supply chain here:

Ag Retail and COVID-19: Unloading Seed Alone, Not Shaking Hands