Initiatives & Challenges

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Knowing your members and understanding their needs is one of the greatest challenges that any association faces. One of the things the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) has undertaken is to make a personal visit to the decisionmakers of member companies. Since January, MACA President Jim Jenkins, Vice President (and CropLife® Publisher) Al Strohmaier, and I have met with 15 member companies. It has been a great experience to provide an update on MACA’s initiatives and to discuss with the member companies the challenges they are anticipating.

The first initiative is the Traceability Imple­mentation Project. The biggest challenge is to test a product monitoring system which can be replicated efficiently and cost-effectively across the retailing sector. MACA has partnered with three retailers — Cooperative Supply, Dodge, NE; Vogel Agri Service, Hamburg, IA; and Reddy Ag Service, Stitzer, WI — to trace products and provide a measurable return on investment for participating dealerships.

The second area MACA has identified concerns access to certain chemical security data beyond the direct control of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and MACA has shared those concerns with DHS. MACA is coordinating with and through CropLife America on this project to get the appropriate attention of several key agencies at the federal level to address the possible concerns.

The third focus has been the Federal Water Quality Coalition (FWQC), of which MACA is a member. FWQC is a group of industrial companies, municipalities, agricultural parties, and trade associations whose goal is to ensure that water quality programs under the Clean Water Act are focused, flexible, and founded on sound science. By being a member of FWQC, MACA’s concerns are heard and protected. The Coalition actively participates in federal and regional water quality rule makings, initiatives, and guidance development through negotiation, written comments, and litigation.

MACA continues to provide educational opportunities through the CropLife Ambassador Network program which targets fourth to sixth grades to provide scientifically based, accurate information to the public regarding the safety and value of American agricultural food production. Nine PowerPoint presentations on important agricultural topics are available on the MACA Web site located at www.maca.org.

MACA has also updated the Survey Form For Public Warehousing of Crop Protection Products. This document is designed to provide assistance in evaluating public warehouses’ qualifications to receive, store, and ship crop protection products and identify any areas for improving safety at any such public warehouses.
MACA also continues to hold an annual meeting each year with speakers to provide insight into trends.

Continuing Challenges

So what are the challenges? In talking with the members, we have found that homeland security rules and regulations regarding moving the product is a concern as they are not consistent. We also heard about stewardship. Stewardship includes the need for voluntary programs vs. mandatory programs and a need to combat the lack of knowledge about the industry, as many people do not make the connection from crop protection to a safe, abundant, and nutritional food supply. There were also concerns expressed regarding the length of patent laws and right to operate. Innovation is vital to the future. As several leaders expressed, we need to balance the benefits of economies and stewardship.

Members have also asked that MACA work closer with our sister and cousin organizations. Yet, they want MACA to stay focused.

In the end, it appears that there are many opportunities for MACA when it comes to the initiatives to undertake. We’ll be reviewing the comments and suggestions and continue to stay focused on the issues that MACA can address. Most importantly, we want to continue to involve the members in the process. We need their input and involvement to be successful.

McCarvel is executive director for the Mid America CropLife Association, St. Louis, MO.

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