The show must go on
By KRISS NELSON
One thing COVID-19 cannot stop is the 2020 planting season.
How are area cooperatives planning on handling the situation to keep their employees and customers safe yet be available to provide their services?
“Our first priority right now is health and safety of our team members and clients. We want to do all we can to make sure we are ready to hit the field in the coming weeks while protecting the well-being of everyone,” said Keith Heim, MaxYield CEO.
With the potential spread of COVID-19, Heim said they have been, and will continue to take the necessary precautions.
“In most cases our clients already know what is expected during this time of dealing with COVID-19,” he said. “Our policies are consistent with others in the ag industry. Whenever possible we’ll be contacting our clients to arrange pickup and delivery of seed and agronomy products ahead of the spring work. In all cases during this time, if a grower needs something, give us a call and we will have the products ready for pick up or delivery. We’ll take care of much as we can by phone and by practicing appropriate social distancing requirements at our facilities and on the farm as much as possible.”
Heim said they are making plans to hit the ground running when the weather improves.
“We are working with our growers to schedule product pickup and delivery along with custom application services,” he said. “Much of the product and supplies our growers need this spring are already here, with more shipments arriving at MaxYield each week. To date we have not experienced delays in inventory arriving at our facilities. We are watching the situation closely and are creating plans to adjust if needed.”
NEW Cooperative says they are monitoring the ever-changing climate of the COVID-19 pandemic and are doing what they can to ensure their No. 1 priority is the health and safety of our employees, customers and suppliers.
In a statement made by NEW Cooperative, “with the government designating agriculture as a critical infrastructure industry, and NEW Cooperative’s customers relying on us to assist in planting this springs crop, our company does not have the option of shutting down. We must be diligent with our preventive efforts of COVID-19 and ready to respond in any way, if exposure elevates. We will keep you posted as we continue to evaluate the situation.”
“We have taken steps to limit our chances for the COVID-19 to spread. We have communicated to employees to follow the recommendations of the CDC, staff has been instructed to conduct as much business as possible through phone, text and emails and we have suspended all internal meeting and appointments with outside vendors and suppliers,” said Dan Dix, general manager for NEW Cooperative.
Precautions, according to NEW Cooperative include following all CDC recommendations and ensuring supply chain readiness and contingency planning around our plant and field operations.
Dix said they are constantly monitoring for any impact.
“Thus far we have assessed a very low risk to our supply chain and business capabilities. We have several plans in place that ensure having multiple resources for the manufacture and delivery of feed, agronomy services and energy,” he said.
According to a statement NEW Cooperative has made their commitment to employee safety as well as customer safety during delivery and pickups. The company suggests:
– On-farm deliveries of agronomy and petroleum products will continue to take place. Please call your location to schedule delivery. If possible describe where the product is to be dropped and allow the NEW employee to make the delivery alone. If you must be present please keep an appropriate distance.
– If picking up agronomy inputs at one of NEW’s locations please call ahead and an employee will meet you at the appropriate warehouse for assistance.
As far as NEW Cooperative’s employees on your farms, the company stated over the next few months, please be assured that all NEW Coop employees will be adhering to our pandemic protocols. If there are any additional precautions that you wish for us to be made aware of, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
With the use of NEW Cooperatives Mobile App, NEW Connect, the company says they can seamlessly conduct grain contracts and offers along with grain settlements including direct deposits can all be done remotely, thus reducing person to person contact.
“We continue to do daily business while continually monitoring the COVID-19 situations. With the spring planting season approaching, We are doing everything possible to ensure our employees are healthy and customers are supplied with the products and services they need. Our goal is to continue to provide services to our member/customers,” said Dix.
Landus Cooperative also has a plan in place and says they will do what they can to keep their farmer/members moving this spring.
Currently the cooperative’s plan includes:
– Ensuring our employees have the support, resources, and information needed.
– Being flexible in our policies and practices at the location to protect your safety and that of our employees.
– Mailing contracts and grain checks to avoid in-office visit.
– Regularly cleaning locations according to CDC guidelines.
– Reducing/eliminating unnecessary traffic into our offices.
“We want to thank our growers; we are seeing a reduction in foot traffic which protects the growers, our employees and our communities,” said Alicia Heun, director of communications for Landus Cooperative. “To get there, we are promoting the use of our app. We are asking growers to call ahead for product pick up. We’ve implemented new bill of lading processes to avoid drivers having to come into the office to sign papers. We’re mailing all grain checks and contracts. Grain Marketers and FSAs are doing phone visits versus on-farm visits.”
The app, Heun said will give customers a way to sign up for location-based text messages should COVID-19 impact your location by using subscription tools in the Landus Cooperative app or portal. In addition, Heun said they will keep our COVID-19 section on our website updated whenever we have new information.
Landus Cooperative is taking these steps to ensure their customer’s spring, operational needs are met:
– UAN, NH3, and other product inventories, at this time, have been uninterrupted.
– Seed is ready for delivery/pick-up.
– Custom application schedules are continuing, please ensure your work orders are in place.
“We are not experiencing any input shortages or delays at this time, but if a grower is ready to pick up seed, now is a great time to grab it mostly due to our delays with the weather,” said Heun.
– Identifying needs and scenario-planning with every location and mill for “what-if.”
“Each day, the locations managers score each category as high, medium or low risk. These category scores then feed into a daily location score and placed into a sheet showing all Landus Cooperative locations,” said Heun. “This allows your leaders to quickly identify if any locations are having any issues or if all locations are good to go. It streamlines the process and allows us to respond more quickly if needed so we can focus on customer-facing operations while still managing COVID-19 and protecting health. We have a plan for how we’ll communicate a positive test result for an employee.”
Heun said they are also working with their industry partners, including Gov. Reynold’s office, the Iowa Department of Ag, National Feed and Grain Association, National Council for Farmer Cooperatives and others to identify and alleviate marketplace barriers.
Some of these barriers being addressed include:
– Harvest weight exemptions are in place
– Hours of service exemptions are in place
– Identifying ways to create new demand for corn and beans for Iowa grain
– Showcasing industry impact on your behalf
– Ensuring our industry is defined as “essential” should a shelter in place order be implemented.
Also Huen said, they are prepared to share new USDA details on a 2020 Market Facilitation Program as soon as they are finalized.
“Thank you for working to help ‘flatten the curve’ as we each do our part in social distancing in this uncertain time. We will continue to utilize these practices until we receive data-based information to the contrary. Thank you for your business and be assured that your Landus Cooperative team is ready to serve you this spring season,” she said.
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