As Ag Retailers Association (ARA) president and CEO Daren Coppock points out, “this is the most important season of the year, no matter which geography you're in, as far as ag is concerned.” He joined host Chip Flory on today’s AgriTalk to discuss how the ARA is helping ensure ag retailers can keep operating and supplying farmers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the challenges are the restrictions on face-to-face interactions for retailers and farmers or their ability to have in-person meetings with farmer customers.
“It's been a challenge because direct on the farm contact really makes that relationship valuable. A lot of them, if not all of them, have converted to doing it all by phone,” Coppock says.
Another challenge is the logistics in delivering to farmers and farmers picking up from retailer locations.
“They're still doing everything they possibly can to serve those growers,” Coppock says. He shares these examples:
- Retailers asking farmers to call in advance so they can have pick up orders ready for them without requiring face-to-face interaction
- When picking up/dropping off, people keeping their distance from one another
Additionally, ARA has been working so the supply chain logistics for agriculture are included in the necessary exemptions for business to continue as it can.
“Our focus has been making sure that whenever states or the federal government announced shut down measures or shelter in place measures, that they rely on the DHS definition of critical sectors, which exempts agriculture from those restrictions,” Coppock says. “And as long as that definition holds, and as long as the states interpret it uniformly, then retailers are still going to be able to be in business and serve their customers.”
Coppock pledges that ARA is continuing to watch for other unintended consequences of the regulations and how they apply to ag retail.
“We've got issues with people that have CDLs, and their license is expiring, but the DMV is closed, and they can't go get them replaced. So we're asking for extensions,” he says.
Hear the full interview with Coppock and Flory below, which includes discussion about different considerations for crop protection and fertilizer this crop year: