[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]by: Corey Getz and Quint Shambaugh

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the essential nature of agriculture and the American farmer into the spotlight – and rightly so! American agriculture has stood and still stands resilient, hopeful, and composed in spite of challenges. In fact, the farming community made it abundantly clear during the pandemic
that, no matter how difficult the circumstances, our work will and must continue for the betterment of our country and its people. While the work has carried on this planting season, there were noticeable changes in the way business was conducted.

Agriculture is an industry that still privileges face-to-face interaction, and professionals take pride in getting to know their clients on a personal level. During the pandemic, the situation forced new ways of communication and approaches to conducting business. These methods, although different, could leadour businesses to an even brighter, more agile future!

Building Resilient Businesses
It is no surprise that budgetary, family, and job concerns are becoming front-and-center. Everyone’s personal lives have shifted — kids are home from school, people have lost their jobs, and health and safety are a number one concern. While the customer’s preferences have shifted and people have become more risk averse, it becomes important to control what is manageable. In addition to adding considerable value to customers, it is important to empathize and respect the client’s personal health and social well-being concerns.

It goes without saying that COVID-19 prompted sudden changes, giving people no time to prepare in advance. The pandemic strengthened the ability for the agriculture industry to work digitally and remotely. Companies that were quick to identify processes that could be managed digitally, remotely, or through video conferencing saw an increase in efficiency.

An avenue that allows for this flexibility and steadfastness is the digital space (virtual conferences, e-newsletters, social media, webinars, etc.). Conquering the virtual world has opened up opportunities to interact without geographical and environmental restrictions. This shift in the way the agricultural industry communicates may be a blessing in disguise. It is not to say that traditional ways of doing agricultural business are not merited. They are and will always continue to be part of the American farming heritage. However, familiarizing ourselves with other tools at our disposal makes our sector more resilient than ever and multiplies the resources we have to do what we do best – grow healthy food for the entire world since efficiency and accuracy breed equity for the customer.

Digitizing farming may open the industry to untapped potential. For example, increasing the client’s access to digital deliverables, remote discussion, or even 3-D farm visits can be additional steps that businesses can take. In addition, there are innovations in the industry with drainage technologies that help create plans for your farm virtually without ever stepping foot on the farm, as well as software and technologies that engineer and facilitate a drainage or irrigation project quickly, efficiently, and accurately.

The Future
Moving forward, agricultural businesses need to be mindful of how to build strong personal relationships that can survive the absence of in-person meetings. This pandemic made everyone realize that business can be conducted in multiple ways. Now our job is to cultivate those innovations so we can best serve each unique client’s needs. In the next few months, innovators in the industry will have additional avenues and opportunities for clients to reach and communicate with businesses digitally. Visionary leaders are investing in the client’s health, sustainability, and future.

The farming community continues to show its importance and adaptability. Aside from the pandemic, pork and beef producers are facing increased supply chain issues, row crop producers are dealing with another wet spring, and everyone is dealing with lower commodity prices.

But everyone continues to dig their heels in, work, and produce. There is a lot to be said about an industry of thousands of independent producers and ag product suppliers that did not blink in the face of adversity. Technology, innovation, and our farming culture made all that happen. It is our belief we will persist in leveraging this digital future as our industry is more important than ever. So let’s build upon this momentum together![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]