The Relevance of Digital Agriculture in the Time of Coronavirus

From the CEO

The Relevance of Digital Agriculture in the Time of Coronavirus

By AgGateway President and CEO Wendy Smith

What will the Coronavirus pandemic mean to agriculture, in the weeks and months ahead? We’re only beginning to get a sense of the many ramifications. At the upstream end of the supply chain, some manufacturers aren’t able to source ingredients used for animal feed and other agricultural needs, due to interruptions to the normal flow of some goods between and within nations – as well as the drop in production of some by-products (such as feedstuff from sagging ethanol production). Throughout the supply chain we’re experiencing shifts in how and whether workers can do their jobs, including the availability of a steady workforce. And at the demand end – with the global drop in travel, eating out, and gatherings of all kinds, there’s already a significant shift in what consumers are buying. Add to this the tragic health toll and its impact, and there’s no doubt we are facing an enormously challenging time for agriculture.

Each day of this crisis, we’re reminded that digital connectivity is incredibly important to our industry’s economic health – and by extension the health of people around the world. The groundwork that AgGateway members have done in the past few years is paying off in a way none of us could have imagined. With digital connections, product can continue to move through the supply chain – directed remotely from a manager sitting at her kitchen table. Invoices can be processed, and inventory can be managed from a single keyboard at one location. A farmer can coordinate with his advisors to reassess conditions and make planting decisions. These decisions no longer require a face-to-face meeting at the office, or a trading partner delivering physical paperwork.

At the same time, the crisis will likely reveal areas where we need to be working faster to get digital connectivity in place. Let’s watch for those critical points where agriculture needs us all to step up. Consider weekly and monthly de-briefs with your work teams – and with your AgGateway teams – to share observations about what could be working better during this crisis when it comes to digital connections. For a while we will all be working remotely – collaborating remotely – but that’s nothing new for AgGateway. We have virtual meeting capabilities, and cloud-based project management and content management, so in 2020 we can be as productive as ever – just as we would wish as much as possible for our members.

I want to express AgGateway’s thanks for the extra work many of you are doing during this crisis, keeping the flow of agricultural goods steady for the millions of people who depend on our industry. Whether in your home, at a near-empty office or out in the field, the work you’re doing is more important than ever. We will continue to do all we can to support your efforts to move toward digital agriculture – I believe the importance of that mission has never been clearer.