Throughout the COVID-10 pandemic, much attention has been placed on industries like hospitality, recreation and airlines, but what about the agriculture industry?
How has COVID changed our industry for the foreseeable future?
Uncertainty Rules The Day
Consumers have obviously still needed to eat throughout the pandemic, but there has been significant instability in the market since March of 2020. For example, the price of milk dropped nearly 45% in Q2. Prices for cattle, corn and other farm goods dropped and with people driving less, demand for ethanol from corn plummeted in March, April and May of this year. Further, livestock producers who relied on distillers’ dried grains—a byproduct of ethanol production— had to scramble to replace that source of animal feed.
But at the same time, consumer demand for other grains rose as shoppers stocked up on – and in many cases hoarded – shelf-stable items like cereals and pasta. From a food security standpoint, the pandemic has led to a shift in grain supply chain strategy from “just in time” to “just in case.” Some of these situations have improved with eased lockdowns, but the looming threat of another wave of the virus and renewed shutdowns leave the entire agriculture industry on edge.
COVID And The Workforce
Worker safety and access to a reliable workforce have also presented challenges, especially in manufacturing and processing plants. Several major producers had to shut facilities down due to outbreaks, and companies have had to walk a fine line when it comes to balancing worker safety against maintaining output.
Additionally, limits on mobility across state and national borders have contributed to labor shortages for the agriculture sector, particularly those that rely on seasonal labor. Production losses due to lack of access to workers have been real, and in some cases, have led to shortages.
People working behind the scenes have also been impacted. As office workers were forced out of their cubicles and into work-from-home settings, there were some growing pains when it came to stabilizing workflow and processes.
Improved Efficiency Is The Key To Survival
One of the biggest and most lasting changes across the board is the need to optimize efficiency. The instability that happened in 2020 was jarring and the ag industry has been working hard to ensure it is not repeated in the future. Farmers are adopting techniques to produce greater output with less livestock and fewer human workers. Companies are streamlining back-office operations, as well to ensure more can be done with fewer employees. New technology is being implemented and automation is becoming more widely adopted in every process from farms to corporate offices.
If you are looking to optimize your hiring processes to access top sales and marketing talent that will keep your ag business profitable no matter the environment, contact the expert recruiters at Morris Bixby today.