Last Word: People

I have to admit that it is truly a relief to be putting the finishing touches on this final edition for 2012. We’re clearly banking on the Mayan calendar being in error, because we got all the editors involved and called a lot of retailers to get your take on where we are as an industry … and what that will mean for us going into 2013. (If the Mayans were right, it’s been a pleasure serving you.)

The Croplife 100 retailers cover story, along with our 4th annual State of the Industry report, hits on virtually everything you discussed with us, from agronomy to regulation to business management and technology. The only really important subject area I think we hit ‘once over lightly” is people — or more specifically, recruiting and retaining superior talent.

In part, this is because we already expended a lot of energy on the topic, with a three part series from September through last month. But this certainly does not diminish the weight of the subject. In talking to a number of folks about it, and attending some interesting sessions like our recent PACE Advisory Council meeting, a couple of issues came to the fore, and made me think more broadly about the issue.

At PACE, where the conversation tends to wander from topic to topic, it occurred to me how broadly and profoundly that biotech crops affected the industry. In addition to the financial toll it took on retailers due to lost weed and insect control revenue, it really tamped down the enthusiasm for agriculture overall. I can remember vividly back in 2003, five years into my experience in this market thinking to myself, “is there any future for me in this market? If farming has become so easy, is there any hope for the full-service retailer?”

I was too green to know that when nature is one of the variables at play, nature will inevitably win out. But it took long enough to happen that it caused a real gap in the number of folks that saw a bright future in ag.
Today, there’s a different dynamic in place. Farming is complex, technological, exciting and highly profitable. Farmers need advice and assistance, and farm kids are going back to the farm, leaving slim pickings as far as finding qualified employees for rural businesses like us in ag retailing. And of course, as one retailer said to me, “there are people out there looking for jobs, but not that many you would actually want working on your team.”

From internship programs to job fairs to creative incentive programs, retailers are trying their best to attract and keep the best. We as a media company do our best within these pages and in everything we do to reach out to the world to portray our industry in a positive light. We absolutely believe in the viability of the full-service retailer.

One thing we are supporting through our affiliate organization, the PrecisionAg Institute, is the hosting of a series of conference call discussions between Institute partners and two- and four-year colleges featuring ag technology or precision agriculture education tracks. The hope is that these colleges will build on or create courses of study that focus on technology education in ag, and create more excitement about agriculture as a career.

It’s a small step, but it is going to take many small steps to increase and improve the talent pool for retailers in the future.  

Leave a Reply

Paul Schrimpf Stories
Paul SchrimpfWorking With Walmart
June 2, 2014
It's critical for agriculture to have seats at the table as the mega-retailer works out its definition of sustainability. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires South Dakota Retailer
April 2, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed Read More
CropLife 100The McGregor Co. Closes Smith-Kem Acquisition
April 2, 2015
The McGregor Co. — ranked No. 16 on the CropLife 100 list of largest U.S. ag retailers — has completed Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Latest News
ManagementMissouri Experts: Spring Planting Slow Start Won’…
April 20, 2015
In the first of the agronomy teleconferences with Extension specialists, University of Missouri Extension climatologist Pat Guinan said the slow Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
Industry NewsCooperative CHS Reports Net Income Of $471.5 Million Fo…
April 20, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has announced company net income Read More
Industry NewsCHS Insurance Names New Director Of Sales
April 17, 2015
Bryan Lewis has been named director of sales for CHS Insurance, the nation’s largest agribusiness insurance broker and full-service insurance Read More
Mature Waterhemp in Corn
HerbicidesGenetic Literacy Project: There’s No Such Thing A…
April 17, 2015
Read the latest “analysis” on GMOs from Consumer Reports and you’ll “learn” that glyphosate, the chemical developed by Monsanto (its Read More
HerbicidesNew Resistance To 2,4-D Discovered In Australia
April 17, 2015
In a world-first case of herbicide resistance, researchers have confirmed that sowthistle weed in the south east of South Australia Read More
ManagementNews From RTP Company Visits and Growers Buying Older S…
April 16, 2015
Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss recent trips to the Research Triangle Park area and market seed sales trends. Read More
soybean field
StewardshipNew ASABE Standard Establishes Framework For Sustainabl…
April 16, 2015
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has initiated a project to develop a new standard to establish Read More
MicronutrientsSouthern States: An Inside Look At Our Tissue Sampling …
April 15, 2015
Remember learning about the food pyramid in school? The nutritional diagram recommends the proper amount of nutrients you need on Read More
Industry NewsArysta Adds New U.S. Fungicides Marketing Manager
April 15, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently hired Deneen Sebastian as its Marketing Manager for U.S. Row Crops, Fungicides. Most recently, Sebastian Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Launches Phosphite-Based Cereal Fungicide
April 14, 2015
A new, phosphite-based fungicide designed for improved suppression of deoxynivalenol (DON) in wheat and barley infected by Fusarium head blight Read More
Mature Waterhemp in Corn
HerbicidesSURVEY: Close To 90% Of Growers Battle Weed Resistance
April 14, 2015
Herbicide resistance management continues to be a priority for corn and soybean growers, and they’re working together more effectively to Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
StewardshipFMC Corp. Joins Sustainable Agriculture Alliance
April 14, 2015
FMC Corp. has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a multi-stakeholder initiative working to define, measure and Read More
Industry NewsArysta Adds Two To Goëmar Sales Team
April 14, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced two new additions to the Goëmar sales team: Steve Kelly, Technical Service Manager – Read More
Valley Variable Rate Irrigation
Precision AgVariable Rate Irrigation Gains Followers
April 14, 2015
Irrigation systems have had the ability to apply different amounts of water throughout a field for decades, using timers that Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Gr…
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Soybean field
Industry NewsThree Ag Co-ops Poised For Possible Merger
April 13, 2015
Following months of study and preparations, the Board of Directors for United Farmers Coop (UFC), Farmers Elevator Cooperative (FEC) and Read More
Eric SfiligojAgriculture Braces For More Belt-Tightening
April 13, 2015
Spring is in full bloom across the U.S. and ag retailers and their grower-customers are busily getting into high gear. Read More