Reflecting on the past 12 months brings on a flurry of emotions, as I’m sure it does for many people. The struggle of quarantining, not being able to see elderly relatives at holidays and the toll it took on rural America were all devastating. Not to mention, last year’s pandemic brought the kind of market disruption to the feed and grain industry that we haven’t seen since the stock market crash of 2008.
Collectively, we’ve been looking forward to 2021 for a long time. But unfortunately, COVID-19’s effects will likely persist well into this year. In our latest NGFA Policy Notes by David Fairfield, vice president of feed services for the National Grain and Feed Association, COVID-19 was ranked the No. 1 issue to impact the feed industry in the coming year.
Fairfield said that although significant recovery for the animal protein industry has occurred since the outset of the pandemic, major outbreaks in 2021 could disrupt U.S. livestock and poultry plant processing capacity, which could significantly impact feed manufacturing operations.
But on the flip side, he also mentioned several positive changes brought about by COVID-19 that may become standard practice. Examples include enhanced facility and employee hygiene, the use of new communication technologies, geographical diversification of supplier relationships and optimized formulation flexibility to offset the impact of ingredient shortages.
The business lessons learned in 2020 will serve companies well as time goes on and mark the beginning of a transformation into the “new norm.”
It’s certainly been a transformative year for Feed & Grain, too. After nearly 40 years of serving the feed and grain industry in media, Arlette Sambs — my mentor, dear friend and longtime publisher of Feed & Grain — announced her semi-retirement last fall. Now I’ve been given the incredible opportunity to step into the role that I’ve watched her masterfully execute for the last 13 years.
Not only do I have her to thank immensely for my appointment as publisher, but many other people (too many to fit here) in the feed and grain industry who have taken me under their wings over years, providing knowledge, resources, and professional and personal guidance.
I’m honored and humbled to continue working for and alongside you all in my new role! ■