The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) sent a letter to President Trump, asking for flexibilities for ag retailers can complete their jobs alongside farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the issues the letter addressed was the product inventory during these uncertain times.
According to Chuck Lippstreu, president of the Michigan Agribusiness Association (MABA), Michigan has sufficient inventory headed into spring.
“Here at the Michigan Agribusiness Association, ag retail is a critical component of our membership,” said Lippstreu. “In talking with ag retailers across Michigan, right now we are inventoried well, and we have the inventory to get the farmer into the field.”
He said MABA is keeping a close eye on supply chains because resupply could be an issue. However, there are still a lot of unknowns with this pandemic.
“We’re very closely tracking the ability to get drivers into trucks to transport product and looking back down the supply chain to manufacturing and warehousing because we don’t know how this is going to play out,” he said. “Right now we have the tools farmers need to get into the field, and we’re working through this on a day-by-day basis—closely following the facts, closely following what’s happening on the ground.”
As farmers are making planting decisions and working with their retailers, the coronavirus is making it harder to make plans. That issue is something Lippstreu and MABA is struggling with currently.
“Usually we can have some sense of what’s coming down the line—we can talk about issues as we have been like trade, workforce and things of that nature where there’s uncertainty, but we also have some sense of what we can control and think about,” said Lippstreu. “With coronavirus, this is completely uncharted, and we don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”
Lippstreu is confident in our national and state leaders to monitor the situation and do what they can. One question he’s been hearing frequently is, “What would happen to Michigan’s food and agriculture sector if there were to be a shelter-in-place order?”
“Here in Michigan at a state level, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that Gov. Whitmer and her team consider agriculture essential to getting us through this,” he said. We’ve been in close contact with them and MDARD. MDARD has done a great job of reaching out to our industry and working with leaders across agriculture to communicate and also hear from us about what’s happening across the state.”
Lippstreu encourages farmers and agribusinesses in Michigan to pay close attention to the facts and rest assured MABA is doing what they can to supply everyone with the most accurate and up-to-date information.
“As we head into spring—for farmers, ag retailers and anybody there on the supply chain—it’s a matter of taking things day-by-day, looking at the facts while planning for contingencies into the future,” he said.