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Minnesota Soybean Processors

If someone would’ve told you in January 2020 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 they’re 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 2019 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 Mobile application to help their limited staff by providing key information to producers.

Being able to access information on the application without having to wait on us was very beneficial to our producers,” said Rob Hofstra, MnSP manager. “It’s increased their knowledge and faith in us because they have total visibility.”

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.  

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.  

Bushel’s Director of Customer Experience, Benny Andres, adds towards the key in relationship building between a customer success team and their customers, “We understood that there needed to be something put in place to take care of them long-term.” The golden phrase in Andres’ statement: long-term. 

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised how easy it was for our producers to use it. The times may have something to do with that, with social distancing and the inability to see people face-to-face,” Hofstra says. “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.” 

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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