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Land O' Lakes CEO Beth Ford on what it's like leading during time of social unrest in city where George Floyd was killed

Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford speaks with Yahoo Finance reporter Alexis Christoforous about social unrest in the U.S. amid COVID-19.

Video Transcript

BETH FORD: You went through the waterfall, the cascade of the issues that have been present for agriculture and for farmers. As you know, farming is an outdoor sport. So it can be too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry. You can be a brilliant farmer, and you can still have issues.

Well, how are they feeling right now? The pandemic did exacerbate supply chain backup. So, I mentioned what happens with food service. Oftentimes, producers, farmers, dairy, on the dairy side, ship to food service restaurants, processors who make products for food service.

Schools have been shut down. So, you lost basically 15-20% plus of the market for distribution. You saw backup in meat processing, hogs, cattle. And so, what happened was that there was an immediate drop in collapse and commodity prices. As well, there wasn't a lot of international trade, because a lot of things were staying here in the United States, especially early in the pandemic.

And exports are crucial to profitability for farmers. For instance, on dairy, one day out of seven of production is exported in a variety of products. So, this was really-- this was really causing pressure at the farm gate in terms of pricing.

Now, how are they feeling right now? Well, we've made it past this particular-- the peak point of the pressure. The administration and the Senate and the House did provide funding for farmers, interim payments to make up for this gap. Many will make it to the other side. We're going to see what happens with this next few challenging months, depending on what happens with the pandemic.

I have seen grain pricing, so grow crop farmers, so beans and corn, have started to strengthen. Bean price up over $10.20, $10.30. Corn price, I saw a 4 number in front of it. And so that's stronger performance for those crops, those are core crops. And so, that's a positive. That's a positive. I'm seeing a little bit more momentum, a little bit stronger performance.

For dairy, the food box program that is providing food for under-served communities and for the food insecure has elevated milk price a bit at farm gate. So, we're not seeing the same level of bankruptcies at the dairy farm level.

So, they're feeling a little bit-- it's not stable. Let's not say that, oh, we're in this stable environment. But there are more positive signs than there had been for the last couple of years, especially. Trade has started to pick up in China. We're seeing a lot of shipments, especially for soybeans, for hogs, et cetera, into China.