Read is also a member of the also a member of the executive committee of the ForFarmers group, which is active in markets across Europe including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Poland.
The COO talks us through the contingency plans ForFarmers has put in place, the changes to the working conditions for the group’s employees, and the importance of communication in this period to maintain team spirit, how technology is helping the company uphold performance and how technology is also supporting innovation around remote feed mill control, for example.
He also references how engagement with local and EU-wide feed industry representatives have been successful: “It has been a very rapidly changing situation for everyone, including governments. Through FEFAC, and our more local organizations, Nevedi, [in the Netherlands], and the AIC in the UK, we have lobbied governments quite hard but, I would say, quite effectively. They were all very quick - the UK was actually the slowest, but it got there when it needed to, in terms of giving animal feed critical status, allowing us to designate our workers as key workers, so, in the UK, that means they can register to send their kids to school, and [so, in that way, they don’t have] to juggle childcare issues.
“In most cases, they [governments] have been responsive. There has been a relaxation of drivers’ hours, for example. There are still areas around that we are still in touch with government on - the working time directive. We keep the dialogue going there.”
In terms of advice to other feed manufacturers, apart from leveraging technology and keeping staff appraised of what is going on, he stressed the necessity of thinking quiet radically about the way things are done and “to have a very open mind about what may be possible and what may not be possible. …. Also, it is amazing the amount of innovation and will that you have within an organization, so make sure you tap into the ideas and the suggestions that people have, however wacky they might seem to start with, give them some space and see where that might go. We are finding that very innovative solutions are coming forward.”