President's note: ‘The 1.5 metres society’

Online since 11-05-2020
Mid-March, I expressed my concern about the Corona virus that is still spreading across the world resulting in our lives changing. Privately, with lockdowns and travel restrictions, but also business wise.
Most of us Europeans are either still in lockdown or we are living in a ‘1.5 metres society’. A society where an interpersonal distance of at least 1.5 metres is advised to stop the COVID-19 virus from spreading. In some countries, masks are obligatory in public areas such as supermarkets and public transport. Some believe that the 1.5 metres society is going to be the new normal...

Luckily, the peak of COVID-19 infections is over now in most of our member countries. The number of ICU patients is steadily going down and so is the number of casualties. Tractor and machinery factories are either restarting or intensifying their production, taking into account the national guidelines for interpersonal distance and personal safety measures. Hopefully we can keep receiving machines for delivery to our customers. China is speeding up its industry again and that will help speeding up ours as well. Because many parts but also ingredients for like fertilisers and crop protection chemicals are produced in China.

Nonetheless, our customers face major difficulties in selling their products, simply because the demand from restaurants and the food chain has decreased significantly. Others struggle to find enough temporary workers to help harvest their products like asparagus, strawberries and lettuce that therefor end up as fodder for animals or have to be destroyed on the field. I’m sure that this loss will have its effects on our business. Not only on the short term, but also in the years to come. A recent survey by Dutch member Fedecom, indicates that 78% of its members fear orders slowing down by more than 10% and 46% expect a decrease of over 20% after this Summer. CLIMMAR is currently compiling a similar survey to set out amongst its 16 members countries to investigate the consequences on our businesses and sector.

As a branch organisation, our activities are also affected by the COVID-19 situation and regulations. We have had to cancel our Spring Meeting scheduled in April for the first time and we are looking into organising our annual congress due October this year, in a different way. This will be the first time since 1970 that our congress can’t take place as planned! As a President, I planned to step down this year, at our congress, but due to the exceptional circumstances, I will stay in position for another year.

Of course in this situation we must not forget to look at the positive points. The EU tractor sales over the year 2019 were up 5%. The recovery of the economy is expected much faster than in 2009. There is no lack in money this time, so as soon as people see the light at the end of the tunnel, the economy will rise up. This is my believe and I hope from the bottom of my heart that you all stay strong and continue to look at the possibilities at the horizon! 

Yours sincerely, 
Erik Hogervorst
President of CLIMMAR