Farm Tender

Ag Tech Sunday - The Importance of Digital Tools

By Bushel

If someone would’ve told you six months ago what you’ll need to navigate your agribusiness through a global pandemic that drastically limits human interaction, what do you think it’d be like? With intense machinery? Or perhaps automatic grain operators?

For one soybean processor, their answer to navigating the pandemic was through an enhanced digital experience. Minnesota Soybean Processors (MnSP) had the interesting experience of arming themselves for the global pandemic right before it really started. Call it insight or really good timing, MnSP is able to continue business effectively with their customers through contactless business exchanges. Their tool? The Bushel platform.

The Ag Industry During COVID-19

To understand the importance of a tool like the Bushel platform for agribusinesses, such as MnSP, during the times of COVID-19, it is important to understand the sincere effects COVID-19 has had in the ag industry. The landscape of agriculture during the pandemic has been hit with not only intense market swings, but a critical issue of staffing personnel as the virus hampers operations after infecting employees or customers. Despite those challenges, agribusinesses trudged through it as best they could because their roles are so crucial in feeding consumers and livestock as well as fueling vehicles. To make the task easier, many turned toward digital tools as a solution.

If there was a silver lining for the ag industry during the pandemic, it’s that businesses are discovering how digital tools also help with the pressures they were seeing prior to the pandemic. COVID-19 changed how everyone buys and sells goods, which increased the pressure for businesses to use new technology to adapt to current challenges and uncover a path toward recovery and growth. The businesses who adopted digital tools as permanent solutions for their agribusinesses not only survive the pandemic, but they survive the continual threat of competitors by offering digital tools that producers were demanding. In the case of MnSP, its involvement with Bushel helped future-proof how MnSP supports producers while addressing the challenge of the pandemic.  

MnSP: Armed and Ready

MnSP joined the Bushel platform in early 2020 to keep up with customer needs and continue being a primary destination for soybean producers. As the pandemic accelerated however, the processor quickly saw the additional value of having such a digital tool to overcome unique challenges caused by the virus. For example, their Bushel-powered mobile application to help their limited staff by providing key information to producers.

Capturing electronic signatures also helped MnSP staff manage contracts while minimizing face-to-face interactions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. With eSign, MnSP’s staff could send, gather, and complete contracts with producers without having to meet them in person. They could complete nearly the entire process within the Bushel platform.

Streamlining communications between MnSP staff and producers has also been key for supporting their operations. Sending notifications from the Bushel platform to the application on a producer’s phone allowed MnSP to help keep both staff and producers informed and safe. These notifications instantly went out to their producers without having to create an email or have a text message fail to go through.  

 “Providing information in our industry, for our producers and for us, is really key to being successful.”

 – Rob Hofstra, MnSP Manager

And to answer concerns about implementing a digital solution during a pandemic? Hofstra embraced it.

“I was a little nervous about the timing of what we were doing,” he said. “But it went so well, and I could listen and hear the guys talking to some of the farmers and they were talking about the program.”

Why Bushel? Why Now?

When considering a digital tool to power your operation — during turbulent times like a global pandemic, but also during really great times like an early harvest wrap up — your tool needs to support you for the long haul. With Bushel, the roadmap is built to continually serve customers innovative solutions that extend from real agribusiness needs. One example of a roadmap item is the long anticipated Offer Management System, which is primed to provide streamlined offer management solutions for agribusinesses.

Aside from constant innovation within a digital tool, you’ll also need to know you have help when you need it. Bushel prides itself with a world-class Customer Experience team consisting of dedicated Customer Support Managers and a real-life Support team (no bots here!).

With Bushel, your purchase doesn’t end at the sale; constant service is at your fingertips to answer questions, troubleshoot issues, and really just make sure you are getting the most out of the platform. Additionally, customers know that there is a continuous “what’s next?” for their platform with a robust roadmap to keep them ahead in their business.

When asking Rob Hofstra, “Why Bushel for MnSP?,” Hofstra spoke transparently. “I am a tough sell. A lot of people will promise the world, especially with technology. But with Bushel, you had that understanding of where our industry is weak and spoke to what we needed. I wanted something that works for my needs and not having to change how we do things to accommodate a system. We’re on board and you can’t shake us now. We’re in it for the long haul.”

Future Proof Your Agribusiness

In the end, we all know ag must keep on. Rain, tariffs, market swings, a global pandemic — agriculture continues to persevere. To efficiently and securely continue forward through the turbulence, digital platforms such as those from Bushel help agribusinesses be more agile during times of uncertainty and face industry-wide challenges.

Speaking from experience, Rob Hofstra said it best: “The more we can help our customers, and the better the tools we provide, the stronger the relationship grows with our producers and customers. The pandemic has made these tools even more important for success than ever before.”

Get through this pandemic — and long after — with a digital tool, such as Bushel, for your operation.

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