May 2020

Pause, please take a minute to pat yourself on the back.  For the last thirteen weeks your life has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.  You’ve been concerned with keeping yourself safe while in public, keeping your family safe, keeping your more-vulnerable loved ones safe all while maintaining productivity on the farm or in your agribusiness.  You’ve had to keep your “essential business” engine running without a sputter.  You’ve had to stay informed on the latest COVID-19 happenings to help ensure you can provide employees with proper personal protective equipment, follow federal guidelines and state orders, ensuring they feel safe and comfortable in your workplace.  You deserve a pat on the back for all you have done for yourself, family and employees.  Keep up the great work!

We are not out of the woods, yet.  It seems the entire supply chain has collapsed in recent weeks.  I’m exaggerating, kind of.  Since I was a young farm kid, I wondered “who drinks all the wine our family farm produces in the marketplace”, “who eats all the almonds or raisins we produce?!”  Maybe a dairy kid would ask him or herself, “who drinks all this milk or eats all this cheese?”  The answer, people all over the world do!  We, as farmers, are only a piece of the supply-chain-pie.  In fact, we aren’t even the first piece of the pie!  Suppliers who support our businesses including irrigation supply companies, equipment suppliers and livestock supply companies, just to name a few, may be some of the first.  A few other contributors are truck drivers, distributors and freight forwarders.  The point is, we need them just a bad as they need us.  We all influence, for better or worse, the entire supply chain loop.  As the saying goes, “We’re only as strong as our weakest link”.  In this case, COVID-19 has given us several weak links on the same chain, proving difficult for us to stay connected.  Just because the supply chain breaks doesn’t mean it can’t be mended stronger than before.  I believe our supply chain will change and evolve into a stronger and cohesive unit as we approach the tail end of this pandemic.  The supply chain will be finely tuned in the years following providing consumers with a great experience and offering producers great value and returns.  At least this is what my crystal ball is telling me.

In the meantime, continue to think about how you think about things.  It’s okay if you need read that last sentence again.  My marketing professor at Fresno State would often say this in class to get us to think critically.  Lastly, prepare for the opportunities that are on their way.

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