Feed Bites

Investing in Our People in Times of Crisis

Written by: Constance Cullman   |   December 2, 2020

Coronavirus, Member value, Worker safety

This fall, I had the opportunity to sit in on several virtual roundtables with many American Feed Industry Association members talking about how they dealt with COVID-19 in their businesses and operations. I was proud to hear every participant start by saying the health and safety of their staff, customers and suppliers was, and remains, their primary focus.

The roundtable participants provided ideas and feedback in so many areas, but overall, five key themes emerged:

  • Employee safety is paramount;
  • Clear, often and timely communication is critical;
  • Investing in the essential workforce now means on- and off-the-clock;
  • Companies can develop creative solutions to achieve work-life balance; and
  • Making it through the pandemic requires collaboration with stakeholders.

As I write this blog, a number of states are reporting increased COVID-19 cases, so we know the virus is not done with us, and the steps we take now have the ability to continue to save lives. While we may see the light at the end of the tunnel with three vaccines showing promising results, we are preparing for several more months of pandemic-induced challenges as we plan for 2021.

With our member input, we now have a baseline for understanding where the industry has been since the virus began its spread in the United States and where it is headed. These roundtable discussions also shed light on several questions with which our members are grappling. For example:

  • How can we get better access to testing in rural America?
  • Should companies invest in permanent, rather than temporary, solutions to mitigate the risks of COVID-19?
  • What biosecurity measures and technologies currently being implemented for COVID-19 will become the “new norm”?
  • How will the economy and consumer demand (for meat, milk and eggs) impact the industry’s future outlook?
  • How will certain functions traditionally performed in-person (e.g. inspections, sales, industry conferences and training) adapt in the future?

Though companies are proactively addressing the pandemic in various ways based on their unique situations, the American Feed Industry Association will use the input received to advocate for policies in 2021 that will advance the industry.

I invite our AFIA members to view a copy of the report on our member website. For non-members, please contact Sarah Novak, for information on how to join.




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