Last week, I had the chance to visit with my old friend Mike Wilson of Wabash Valley Service Co. Inevitably, our conversation turned to the latest news coming out of West, TX, regarding the fire and explosion that destroyed the West Fertilizer plant back in mid-April.
“I’ve just hated much of the coverage the popular media has given this story, especially just after it first happened and some people were trying to blame anhydrous ammonia as the cause of the explosion,” said Wilson. “We in the industry knew this couldn’t be the case, but many of our local media reps didn’t seem interested in hearing our story.”
It was at this point that I reminded Wilson of that old TV news adage: If it bleeds, it leads. Negative or tragic news will always drive mainstream media coverage, I said, since such stories tend to score higher with viewers/readers than positive ones.
Coincidentally, this makes this week’s e-newsletter column all the more pertinent. The reason I was visiting with Wilson in the first place was to tell the stories of two of Wabash Valley’s outlets in Browns and Allendale, IL – both of which are being honored this year as winners of Environmental Respect awards. Now in its 23rd year, the Environmental Respect program – sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection in partnership with CropLife magazine – celebrates the positive news of the ag retail marketplace by recognizing those outlets that excel at environmental stewardship. This year, there were more than 20 outlets honored at the state level for their achievements in this area, along with five regional winners, one land use management winner and one Spirit Award winner, which honors a past National winner for continuing to improve upon its environmentally-friendly programs.
Perhaps Jeff Homan, plant manager for the Wabash Valley Allendale facility, said it best when talking about what the Environmental Respect awards means, not only for his outlet, but the entire ag industry. “When I found out our facility won this award, I thought the timing of it couldn’t have been better,” said Homan. “With all the negative news coming out in light of the West, TX, event, it is nice to not only be recognized for doing something good, but getting the chance to tell this story to a broader audience.”
I couldn’t have summed it up better myself!