"Wow. We didn’t realize you did stuff like that!" According to Land O’Lakes, Inc. Chief Supply Chain Officer Yone Dewberry, that’s a common reaction he gets when talking about the cooperative’s partnerships with technology leaders like Microsoft, whose cloud service and AI capabilities help power the smart farm R7® Tool by WinField.
“We use a lot more technology than people realize,” enthuses Dewberry, who trained as a chemical engineer and has spent more than 30 years in supply chain. “We’re not a small, sleepy co-op.”
Another case in point? Land O’Lakes Inc.’s pilot program with Uber Freight, which launched in late 2017 and matches suppliers with available fleet in real time -- just one way the co-op is modernizing its supply chain to help solve agriculture’s ever-evolving challenges.
While his job involves constant innovation, Dewberry says the basics of supply chain management haven’t changed in millennia. “If you go back to the days of pyramids, supply chain people planned, sourced, made and delivered stuff to move it from point A to point B,” he says. “That’s still what a supply chain person does today, but we use more technology.”
In fact, technology is built into Land O’Lakes, Inc.’s supply chain, including in the dairy business, where efficient storage and distribution of highly perishable products is essential. “One of our biggest challenges is that we’re dealing with a raw material that’s fundamentally only good 24-48 hours before we process it,” he says. “So, having a very tight supply chain is a challenge every day.”
The WinField United business faces a slightly different logistical hurdle. “If you have a disease outbreak on a farm somewhere, it could happen in any growing portion of the U.S.,” explains Dewberry. “You need to be able to react as quickly as possible to ship seeds and crop protection products.” Thanks to technology that offers visibility into where all the inventory is, WinField is able to stay nimble -- and serve farmers better.
While efficient supply chain management plays an important role in driving Land O’Lakes, Inc.’s specific business goals, it also serves our broader mission of feeding human progress. As a cooperative owned by farmers and local agricultural retailers, we use our supply chain capabilities to help bridge the rural-urban divide -- for example, by giving rural communities access to products and services readily available in urban areas or enabling broadband connectivity to help farmers across the country access better crop tools and analytics.
On a global level, says Dewberry, food and farmers are at the heart of his team’s work, in support of Land O’Lakes, Inc.’s purpose. “We’re a very innovative company that’s trying to help solve the world hunger issue, first of all, and an organization that’s trying to help farmers become part of that value chain.”
As he approaches the two-year mark as Chief Supply Chain Officer -- and 11 years at Land O’Lakes -- Dewberry cheerfully reflects on his tenure. “I continue to have fun doing this,” he enthuses. “I can’t imagine doing anything else, and I learn every day. It’s pretty neat stuff.”