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7 Thanks Farmers
Justin Allgaier's hood for the Homestead-Miami Speedway race on Saturday, Jun 13, 2020.

Justin Allgaier to thank farmers on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway

In the midst of a global pandemic, everyone has to pull in the same direction.

BRANDT Professional Agriculture, its constituent farmers and employees have done just that through these trying times, and as a way of saying thanks for all their hard work, Justin Allgaier’s No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet will carry a very visible nod to all their efforts this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

On Saturday, the hood of Allgaier’s car will carry a message to BRANDT employees, thanking them for serving the farmers. In Sunday’s race, the hood will carry a thank-you to the farmers, for feeding the world.

Something that was brought out in stark relief during the COVID-19 pandemic was the fact that the food supply chain is not automatic. Food does not just show up in the grocery store. There is a complex chain of events that has to happen so that everyone gets fed.

“(The special hood messaging) is a recognition of something that (BRANDT CEO) Rick Brandt likes to say and Evelyn Brandt might have started saying years ago, and that is people like to eat,” said BRANDT Chief Marketing Officer Karl Barnhart. “They have to eat. Without the folks like our customer farmers and our employees who are getting it done, you may not feel it for a month or two months or three months, but if they don’t continue to get it done now, you’re not going to be eating in three months’ time.”

Calling attention to both its employees and farmers, BRANDT recognized the fact that farming is all about getting it in the ground, getting products to market and feeding the vast majority of the population with apparent ease.

“This stuff doesn’t suddenly appear in the grocery store,” Barnhart said. “It’s a process. It’s an acknowledgment and a way for us to say thank you to those farmers who continue to get it done, continue to take it on the chin with commodity prices and uncertainty in their marketplaces. It’s a way to say thank you to our employees as well. Through this whole thing, we didn’t have any absenteeism, we didn’t have any complaints. We had people who recognized, ‘hey, it’s go-time. It’s our busy season, and if we don’t get it done, our farmers don’t get it done. If they don’t get it done, people don’t eat.’”

The pandemic hit in the early stages of planting, or very close to it. Farmers are by nature planners, and anything that messes up that timeline is bound to cause fluctuations. In March, a good portion of the warmer-weather states were involved in the time-sensitive grind that is planting season. It couldn’t have come at a worse time.

At the same time, the company itself had to adjust on the fly to both keep its 800-person global workforce safe and productive while assisting its primary customers in a crucial undertaking.

“From a corporate point of view, we did a lot of the same things other companies did: anyone who could work at home did, we locked down all the facilities, restricted access to potential vendors,” Barnhart said. “No customers, no vendors, no suppliers, no visitors if you could help it. That was across the whole company.”

Farming, Barnhart said, is a dispersed business on its face; there’s a lot of time spent by yourself. That did not extend to its production of agricultural products.

“We started social distancing, wearing masks, focusing on keeping these essential business running,” he said. “Agriculture was quickly designated an essential business. The farmers don’t have a choice; when the time is right, they have to plant. It’s a very, very small window, in some cases, it’s just a matter of days one way or another. They get that window of the right time, right temperature, the right soil conditions, they have to go.

“What we did was try to disperse our people as much as possible. We started doing sign-in forms, screening questions, contingency plans in place if one of our employees were to be infected, we would have been able to support that location’s customers. We had equipment ready to move, people ready to move. The good thing about agriculture is, it’s kind of a lonely man’s dispersed business. It was social distancing before social distancing was cool, and that’s a good thing.”

BRANDT Professional Agriculture has many facets as a business. It sells direct to farmers through 26 retail locations in central Illinois, with products like fertilizers, seeds, pesticides and herbicides. Those farmers in the region combine to farm around 1 million acres. Those retail locations are huge, spread across an area of 2 million acres.

The company also manufactures products for farmers, through plants in Illinois, California, Utah and Florida as well as in Spain and Brazil. Those facilities create packaged products, chemical compounds used as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Those go out to both BRANDT retail locations and to competitors, who then sell to farmers. The business is global, selling into 81 countries worldwide and 49 of the 50 U.S. states.

Tune in on Saturday (FOX, 3:30 p.m. EDT) to see BRANDT’s thank-you for a job well done to its employees on Allgaier’s Chevrolet, and again on Sunday (FS1, noon EDT) to help the company thank farmers for feeding us all.

— JR Motorsports —