You’ve heard it time and time again these past several weeks – we are living in an unprecedented time. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have upended our routines, our beliefs and, in many cases, our livelihoods.
While hundreds of millions of Americans were under orders to stay at home, domestic demand for fuel plummeted by more than 50% in a matter of weeks, damaging operating margins for ethanol producers and adding even more strain to an already vulnerable farm economy. The entire biofuels industry was forced to make adjustments to survive this economic climate, including POET, and it is still unclear when the industry will return to full production.
As the old adage goes, “when it rains, it pours,” and some may fear we’re just one setback away from drowning. But I’m a man of faith, and I believe that after every storm comes a rainbow.
There are no words to justify what has been lost during the course of this crisis and no way to predict how much it will change our world moving forward; however, we would be remiss to ignore the blessings that have come about as a result.
Most of us have had no choice but to hit pause on our overbooked, chaotic lives, providing a much-needed break to reflect upon what truly deserves our time and energy when everyday life resumes. Families are spending their days working and playing together instead of rushing off in separate directions. Communities are making conscious efforts to support local businesses and charitable causes. Teachers, public servants, frontline workers and first responders are getting the appreciation they deserve.
Our planet is not only healing, but is quickly beginning to flourish again after decades of being exploited by humans. Vehicle emissions have declined dramatically around the globe, resulting in cleaner air than we’ve breathed in decades. Scenic views that have long been clouded by smog can be seen clearly once again, a preview of what a world powered by biofuels can look like.
This time has also reminded us what POET is truly made of. Our leadership team has had to make several tough decisions in a short period of time; however, we have also managed to come together and achieve some great things for the future.
In April we were able to complete the largest merger and refinancing in the company’s history despite facing extraordinary obstacles, a move that will make us stronger and more resilient in the face of the COVID-19 crisis and other challenges to come. Additionally – in true POET fashion – our team worked tirelessly to find a way to produce pharmaceutical-grade hand sanitizer in a time when there is a critical shortage. I am incredibly proud of their display of talent and tenacity in the face of hardship and pleased to see that the spirit our company was founded on is alive and well today. Through this we have proven yet again that, by utilizing God’s green Earth and a little ingenuity, agriculture can meet many of the world’s most pressing needs.
I have seen countless ups and downs during my three decades in this business, but never anything quite like this. And while this crisis has left a mark on all of us, I am certain we will weather this storm together and emerge even stronger than when it began.