In unprecedented times, farmers keep on feeding the world during the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted on March 19, 2020

In unprecedented times, farmers keep on feeding the world during the COVID-19 pandemic

To our stakeholders, colleagues and growers,

First off, we’d like to send out a big thank you to all the dedicated healthcare and emergency workers, the folks in service industries, those keeping our supply chains running, and all the farmers and growers out there. These are the people who are getting food and supplies to us and ensuring everyone stays safe and healthy. Your efforts are appreciated!

At BVT, we’re working through the realities of the COVID-19 disruptions like all the other businesses big or small, making adjustments as necessary. Our staff are all working from home where possible, and we’re supporting them to ensure the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones.

Ashish Malik in his home office
Ashish working at his home office.

It’s tough going for many, but there is some good news in the midst of a lot of uncertainty: bees are still flying, and crops are continuing to grow! The resilient farmer communities are continuing with their farming operations to make sure we all have the food we will need to get through these tough times. For BVT, this means we’re still connecting with our grower partners as usual, and visiting them where appropriate (and taking the necessary precautions, of course). Interactions with other business partners are now in phone or virtual meeting mode. Also, given the high volatility in the capital markets, we are being careful with our cash expenditures and are continuing only with our essential activities.

Spring waits for no man

Next week is the first full week of spring. And food production will be a priority regardless of the progress of COVID-19 – if anything; it’s an even higher priority to ensure that populations can stay healthy and robust in the face of the pandemic. That means BVT’s work is ramping up as growing seasons begin from coast to coast, starting in the south and moving north as the days get warmer. We will keep doing everything we can to support our grower community: not only are they our valued partners, they are critical to feeding our society in the days and months ahead.

Despite the pandemic, it is business full steam ahead for farmers and beekeepers, who are busy with activities in the current, or preparing for the upcoming growing season.

“Spring is the busy time of year for our agronomy team,” says T.J. Hafner, Lead Agronomist for AgriCare in Oregon. “The blueberry plants are displaying new growth and scattered open blossoms. The bees are out searching for early flowers. Mother nature keeps ticking, no matter what the state of the pandemic.”

“We are busy harvesting corn that we were not able to get out of the field last fall and preparing to plant the spring crops, including sunflowers. Several farmers in our community are hiring laid-off workers to assist with machinery preparation for planting – everyone is pulling together to get through the current situation,” says John Swanson, a sunflower grower and seed industry expert in Mentor, Minnesota.

Tom Smude, owner of Smude Enterprises, LLC and Smude Sunflower Oil, in Pierz, Minnesota says, “Spring calving and preparing for the planting season is keeping us busy with our farming operation. Our sunflower processing and food products business is actively running with good demand. We have taken the appropriate steps to protect our workers and keep as many employed as possible.”

Thank you to all the farmers and agriculture workers who are working hard from before sunup into the wee hours of the night – because of their work and dedication, the world’s population will continue to get the food they need.

Agriculture industry resilience amid COVID-19

The agricultural sector survived two world wars and the Great Depression – it will get through COVID-19 as well. Those past events weren’t without casualties, though, so it’s critical that industry leaders do what they can to minimize the impact on farmers during this fast-evolving pandemic. We are heartened to see this support happening: one great example is the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s update letter on initiatives from March 16. We should also take comfort in the commitment from the government agencies that are ensuring food safety and supply as noted in this letter from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

From all of us at BVT, we hope you, your families, and your communities all stay safe and healthy through these concerning times.


Ashish Malik, CEO