2009 Environmental Respect Awards: The State Winners
These 15 retailers are recognized for their commitment to agricultural environmentalism.
July 7, 2009
DuPont would like to sincerely congratulate the 2009 Environmental Respect Award state winners as wonderful examples of an entire industry that demonstrates its stewardship every day in the course of serving farmer-customers.
"We let the public know that we are truly stewards of the environment and are the plant doctors when it comes to prescribing pesticide use," says Fred Strauss, manager at 2009 state Environmental Respect Award winner Crop Production Services (CPS) in Vernalis, CA.
A sign in this southern California town reads "Prevent Injuries. Work Safely At All Times." The employees of CPS Vernalis take that seriously.
All agricultural chemicals are stored under roof and contained with a volume equal to at least 110% of the largest tank's capacity. A detailed facility map and emergency plans are displayed and delivered to all employees. Employees are trained in safe handling of hazardous materials.
"The Environmental Respect Awards show that we have invested in the future and well-being of our company, neighbors, and environment," says Strauss. "We let the public know that we are truly stewards of the environment."
Staff training, promotion of sustainable methods of pest control and fertility, and communication on agricultural best management practices locally, nationally, and internationally are just a few reasons why Centennial Ag Supply was honored with a 2009 state Environmental Respect Award.
The company is focused on educating its community and the industry on the importance of safety and being advocates for agriculture and environmentalism around the world.
"Environmental compliance is critical to the future of our planet, to our industry, and to any company," says Jim Fargo, safety and compliance manager at Centennial. "We have a responsibility to protect the resources we have been given if we are going to continue to meet the demands of feeding our country."
This innovative company has changed the landscape of agriculture in its community. Staff and local growers are trained in worker protection standards and additional safety issues. A professionally published newsletter providing information that will benefit customers, vendors, and employees is distributed monthly, and the company began its own winter conference.
"This is a day-long meeting where we bring in speakers from our industry to provide insightful, cutting-edge information," says Fargo. "We invite our customers, our vendors, and other business associates to a luncheon with a clear message of our values, our vision, and our thankfulness."
Centennial's company president has spoken locally, nationally, and throughout Australia to growers and dealers, advocating agriculture and educating the industry. "Through working relationships with employees, government regulators, and our growers, we will continue to develop compliance as a core value for our company," says Fargo.
The staff at Pro Source One doesn't mess around when it comes to safety of employees, community, and environment.
"Through the meetings and training sessions we have hosted, we have made it clear that safety and environmental responsibility should be everyone's number one priority," says Jeffrey Mausolf, Pro Source One manager.
A large patio area was built for sales team training sessions and grower/applicator meetings. Emergency contact information is posted on every telephone at the facility and all employees are trained in emergency response procedures. A specially designed map of the warehouse indicates to fire and emergency personnel where hazardous materials are stored and each year, company leadership meets with the fire department to provide update lists of chemicals and products.
"Environmental stewardship is an important and easy way for us all to lead by example and make wise decisions that will afford future generations a healthy environment," says Mausolf. "As a company, we especially have to be leaders and teach our staff and customers that environmental respect is a benefit to all."
To employees at Crop Production Services (CPS) in Rushville, IN, good stewardship and service is about being a partner in the community.
"We have earned the respect of our neighbors by caring about people and caring for the environment," says Mike Holzback, manager at CPS Rushville. "The world must depend on us to provide healthy food and clean water in order to survive."
Being a partner in the community takes on a lot of different meanings for employees at CPS Rushville. Continuous training and information gathering is a must for the company to keep sharp on products and proper application. The company offers precision agriculture services — including computer mapping, variable-rate application, and soil testing — to make sure products are applied precisely where they are needed to reduce waste and promote a positive environmental footprint.
Emergency information and evacuation procedures are posted for all employees. Each employee carries a card with them with emergency contact numbers and names, and the order in which those contacts should be called. Three levels of security are used: fencing, locks, and lighting as the base safety plan.
"Our company and all agribusinesses must make an impact on the world by taking a leading role on being good stewards of the environment," says Holzback. "Our livelihood depends on how well we care for the land."
This 2009 Environmental Respect Award state winner has its feet on the ground and its head in the clouds.
Tyree Ag Inc., an aerial applicator, is serious about environmental and community safety. The farm supply retailer offers both aerial and ground application services and maintains a strict focus on environmental safety through employee training, up-to-date safety procedures, and community outreach.
"It is our goal at Tyree Ag to be a business that our community can trust," says Brian Taylor, agronomy sales at Tyree Ag. "Our longevity depends on how we treat the environment."
All storage facilities are topnotch and tanks have the very best hoses and valves. All chemical storage is under roof and is heated in the winter months. The warehouse has 35,000-gallon containment and the hangar has been built for 10,000-gallon containment. The company hired a safety director that handles all compliance and safety planning and works to train employees.
"We want people to know who we are and what we do," says Taylor. "We are trying to reach large audiences with our message: Agriculture is important to everybody. What we do today will be there for our children and their children. We want to leave it in good shape for them."
Environmental respect is at the forefront of this farm supply retailer's business plans, and is the reason Crop Production Services (CPS) in Ubly, MI, took home a state award for stewardship.
"For an industry which is so interconnected with nature, it is imperative that environmental respect be at the forefront of our operational practices," says John Mausolf, location manager. "The integrity of the environment is essential to the health and sustainability of agriculture."
The business's new building and processing system has helped them concentrate more on which products work best in bulk, totes, or package form. "By utilizing as much bulk and intermediate containers as we can, we have eliminated the need for large amounts of jugs in the warehouse," says Mausolf. "This has helped us reduce waste."
In addition to streamlined processes, the business has taken an active role in its community. CPS Ubly participates in Rural Education Day sponsored by the Farm Bureau and works with and rewards local schools and teachers for keeping agriculture in the curriculum.
"Our rural community's young people will be the future of agriculture, and helping to advance their knowledge and ability now will pay untold returns for our community and our industry," says Mausolf. "As members of the community we must plan and operate our business in a manner which is both respectful to our surroundings and to our neighbors."
Employees and staff at Bird Island Soil Service take pride in their commitment to running a clean business.
"For us, respecting the environment and how we conduct our business goes hand in hand," says Brad Aaseth, manager at Bird Island. "We encourage environmental respect not only in the fields but in our community."
Bird Island staff cleans the load pads every day and many times during the day if dry fertilizer gets on the ground. The dry fertilizer plant is swept every night before the doors close and the company recycles plastic jugs, cardboard, aluminum cans, and all paper products. The yard is watered down with a sprayer the staff built to make the atmosphere more comfortable for employees and neighbors.
"We take pride in our business and this carries a positive message to our neighbors and fellow community members."
Environmental stewardship is important to Dakota Agronomy Partners. But it is not the only reason this farm supply retailer won a 2009 state Environmental Respect Award.
"As a member of our community, we feel it is extremely vital that we remain aware of the environment and the effect we have on it," says Mike Flaten, general manager. "The actions we take today will have a definite impact on the environment tomorrow."
Dakota Agronomy Partners impact comes in the form of education of employees and the community. Employees are continuously trained to be aware of current and new safety practices and regulations. The company sponsors local youth training events, speaks to local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters about opportunities in agribusiness, and employs interns to help them further their education through on-the-job training.
"Our goal is to promote the great opportunities available today in the ag industry," says Flaten, "whether it's as a future grower or in the ag business field. By doing so, we help our industry remain strong and remain a prominent career choice for youth within our community."
For the employees and staff at Central Valley Ag, environmental respect starts at home.
"I'm very fortunate to work for a company that takes stewardship seriously with the construction of environmentally responsible plants," says Jason Kock, ACS specialist at Central Valley Ag. "Our plants show that Central Valley Ag is serious in handling chemicals and fertilizers in a responsible way."
The company has installed many environmentally friendly systems at its plant. All fertilizer and bulk tanks are located in a contained area that holds at least 100% of the capacity of the largest product container, and all tanks are labeled and locked.
When it comes to emergency response, Central Valley Ag conducts emergency drills and offers emergency and hazardous materials training for employees. Employees are required to check driver's IDs at pick-up time to make sure all agricultural product is transferred safely and gets to the right field.
"It's the responsibility of everybody in the agriculture community to respect the environment," says Kock. "Growers are the ultimate environmentalists because without the environment, we can't make a living."
Community safety is the main focus of Crop Production Services (CPS), and is the key reason this farm supply retailer won a 2009 state Environmental Respect Award.
"Since agriculture is such a big part of our neighborhoods, health and safety issues are our main concern for the members of these communities," says Dave Rieman, manager at CPS Findlay. "We must be responsible for ensuring our customers and our community members are a part of our efforts."
Employees and customers are trained in the latest safety techniques and procedures. Employees continuously offer advice and instruction to customers, addressing all questions and concerns they have about products or services. "The more informed and aware our customers are, the safer they will be," says Rieman.
All fertilizer and bulk tanks are located in a contained area and are labeled and locked. The processing and mixing area is under roof, and is located on a diked concrete pad to reduce spills. The company's "2009 Handi-Plan" includes information on evacuation procedures, media crises, natural disasters, accidental spills, medical emergencies, fires, vehicle accidents, and security.
"We all need to be responsible for using and protecting our resources," says Rieman. "We must be concerned with the impact our products have on the Earth and strive to make them as environmentally safe and harmless as possible."
"Environmental, health, and safety compliance starts with our employees," says Jim Pittam, area operations manager for Simplot Grower Solutions.
Employees are given the responsibility of making corrections to situations they deem unsafe and a specialized safety committee has been put together to review employee concerns and maintain a link between management and employees.
In the winter, Simplot conducts an "Annual Safety Day" in which all employees are trained on new techniques and procedures.
"We routinely hold monthly safety meetings to discuss and reinforce a variety of environmental, safety, and health topics," says Pittam. "It is important that our employees take the knowledge they gain at work home with them to share with their families."
The company also actively promotes precision practices to help reduce their environmental footprint, and provides ongoing training for certified crop advisors and all employees. An investment in specialized equipment and annual grower meetings to explain new technology also help Simplot remain environmentally safe.
"The J.R. Simplot Company is committed to operating in an environmentally sound manner now and into the future," says Pittam. "This is not only for the sake of our customers and our employees but for the long-term viability of agriculture and its role in supporting the needs of the country and the world."
For this South Dakota farm supplier, environmental stewardship is a way of life.
Eastern Farmers Cooperative takes special precautions when it comes to security, including locks for all tanks and valves, and employee briefings on techniques used to identify unfamiliar or suspicious transactions. The staff periodically inventories the company's quantities of ammonium nitrate to ensure a theft has not occurred. All fertilizer and bulk tanks are located in a contained area and are labeled and locked. The company conducts emergency drills and offers emergency and hazardous materials training for employees.
"Environmental respect is something everyone involved in agriculture should have," says Clint Hutchinson, branch manager Crop Production Services (CPS) at Bells, TN. "The less negative environmental impact we have equates into a more positive community outlook on our facility and the people who work here."
CPS Bells has invested in facility upgrades to maximize environmental and employee safety. These upgrades include two concrete loading pads for the fertilizer facility, a new entrance into the chemical storage area that allows for 100% containment of trucks loading and unloading, and a covered wash pad for fertilizer trucks and chemical equipment.
Employees are trained in hazardous materials handling, application procedures, and mixing and loading operations. The local law enforcement agencies and fire departments tour the facility on a yearly basis, and the company has named an emergency officer and task force to execute emergency procedures, should a crisis arise.
"Professionalism is something we don't just talk about," says Hutchinson. "We do it. We as a company try to keep ourselves educated on the latest technology and best economic decisions for our growers."
A focus on outstanding safety and security measures is what makes this 2009 state Environmental Respect Award winner stand out.
"I feel our company will be leading the way in taking necessary action in putting environmental safety first," says Rodney Taylor, production manager at Crop Production Services (CPS) in Ivor, VA. "Keeping the environment safe helps preserve life."
One employee has been trained as an Incident Commander for hazardous materials response, and an additional employee is scheduled to be trained in 2009. "Security Guidance" posters are displayed to help keep security issues fresh and at least 15 security lights illuminate the grounds at night.
Local law enforcement patrols the grounds routinely. Three of the company's buildings are posted with alarm service signs and if break-ins occur, calls are made to local law enforcement officers. The location's Environmental, Health, and Safety Department keeps employees up-to-date on regulatory changes and the company holds "tailgate sessions" every Monday to discuss safety issues.
"It is our responsibility to preserve the environment," says Taylor. "We are always taking steps in teaching and training employees in environmental protection."
The tagline under this Pickett, WI, retailer's logo reads "Rely on Us." The attitude displayed by employees and staff ensures that everyone can.
"We need to set an example for our customers to follow on good environmental practices," says Kevin Grahl, agronomy manager and location supervisor. "The employees at our location work hard to make sure our facilities and equipment remain up-to-date to ensure a safe environment for customers and neighbors."
United Cooperative has invested in facility upgrades. All full-time employees regularly attend training and field days and all personnel are certified crop advisors.
The fire department tours the location regularly. Emergency plans, facility maps, and safety meetings are a part of a regular routine.