Written by: Paul Davis, Ph.D. | February 8, 2022
In the early part of 2020, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic had been declared in the U.S., it was apparent that the business of agriculture would continue. Even facing down many challenges, the production of food, fuel and fiber pressed on. Looking through a lens of reverence and helpfulness, the American Feed Industry Association’s Nutrition Committee set about capturing the enduring spirit of our industry and disseminating it to those that could benefit from the experiences and philosophies of others.
At the recent International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Ga., we presented the “Business Continuity in Times of Disruption” program, where the audience heard from three dynamic speakers, each of whom gave a thought-provoking presentation with several nuggets to implement in our own homes, social circles and places of work. With a combined industry experience of more than 60 years, the program’s speakers reminded us that resiliency can run the gamut from basic human emotions to cutting-edge digital technologies.
Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Association and Northwest Chicken Council, emphasized the need for relationships to help successfully navigate government regulations and local mandates. He encouraged the audience to invite elected officials to tour facilities and learn more about its respective industries. Citing the need for familiarity and understanding, Mattos suggested that cultivating personal relationships and a more intimate understanding of production agriculture is mutually beneficial for agriculture and government. He emphasized the need for strong biosecurity practices during any farm visits.
Scott Lovin, vice president for feed at AgState, shared his thoughts on leading in chaos. With unparalleled genuineness, Lovin reiterated the need for an organization’s leadership to actually lead with punctual decision-making and lots of visibility. He emphasized the importance of compassion and honesty during stressful times and reflected on the confidence and peace that such actions bring to employees. Lovin reminded attendees of the value of a positive attitude and the necessity of “courage under fire.” He left the audience with a final thought of “this too shall pass,” pointing to the temporary nature of these trying times.
Yone Dewberry, chief supply chain officer for Land O’Lakes, Inc., shared his experiences for not merely continuing, but thriving during disruptions. He cited disruptions beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, which included weather, labor shortages, raw material shortages and the unprecedented blockage of the Suez Canal. Like previous presenters, Dewberry cited basic mantras such as “not forgetting one’s purpose” and the need to demonstrate empathy and compassion toward employees and their families. He went on to cite instances where some of the latest technologies had been invaluable in communicating with workers and staying connected when all staff was not in one location. Yone closed with the encouragement to “absorb the shocks” and continue moving forward.
All three of our speakers did an outstanding job, with each message resonating with a very engaged audience. Several future industry leaders from the IPPE’s Young Leaders Under 30 Program attended and I, for one, am very pleased for them to hear firsthand about the resiliency of animal agriculture.