If there ever was a sector that could operate during a pandemic, it’s grain.
The Prairies are famous for wide open spaces, so with some planning and forethought farmers, truckers, grain companies, railways and terminal operators can keep moving Canadian grain to market, safely, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We don’t anticipate any issues to be able to take a delivery from a farmer,” Russ Reich assistant vice-president of Richardson Pioneer Limited said in an interview March 19. “Obviously we will put measures in place where there is safe distancing and people stay in their trucks and how we hand off receipts. We can definitely spread out and practise social distancing. I don’t see any concerns there. In regards to shipping and keeping the whole pipeline going we don’t think that will be an issue.
“The transportation of goods should remain solid as long as the cars arrive on our site.”
The same applies for getting crop inputs, such as seed, fertilizer and pesticides, to farmers, Reich added.
Much of the paperwork can be done electronically too.
“We’ve got direct deposit for our customers. We can still mail cheques to people. All of our receipts, invoices and contracts are available live through our Richardson-Pioneer website.”
Reich also emphasized safety of employees and customers is a priority.
Social-distancing measures are in place across the Richardson-Pioneer network.
“Our ask of our customers is to call, text or email in advance of coming to the site and we will take all social-distancing measures to ensure we service their every need,” Reich said.
Other grain companies have similar policies.
Cargill and Parrish and Heimbecker are asking farmers to call ahead too, reported last week.
“Our teams will use electronic documentation where possible, but if that does not work for you, we will use traditional methods with additional safety protocols to protect your health and that of our employees, Cargill said in an email to customers March 18.
Visitors to P&H sites are being asked to “avoid meeting face to face with us,” as staff “will be available via phone and text,” an official said March 17.
“… call ahead to ensure we are able to assist you,” as the company “will be limiting the amount of customers at our location at this time.
“Our teams will use electronic documentation where possible, but if that does not work for you, we will use traditional methods with additional safety protocols to protect your health and that of our employees.”
G3 takes employee and customer health seriously and has implemented social distancing to protect both, G3 vice-president of business development Brett Malkoske said in an statement March 19.
“We are keeping grain moving, but offices are closed to the public, and those delivering grain are being asked to remain in their vehicles within the drive shed and avoid entering our operations offices.”
– With files from AgCanada.com