Roundtable: Talking Things Through

Having come out of a highly challenging boom-and-bust cycle, seven retailers from across the country took stock of themselves and the industry last month at the first-ever CropLife State of the Industry Roundtable at the Agricultural Retailers Association Conference.

Both near- and short-term issues took center stage during the brisk one-hour event, including seed selling challenges, working with larger and more sophisticated grower-customers, moving forward in the fertilizer market, and identifying reasons for optimism in the season ahead.

Fertilizer has certainly been the predominant issue, and the retail panelists offered their thinking and strategies heading into 2010.

“We have implemented a contract with our customers and stress the importance that once you buy it, it is yours,” said Jeff Eggleston, vice president of agronomy at Hintzsche Fertilizer, Maple Park, IL. “I think that this has become very common throughout the Midwest.” The company is also evaluating product lines and looking at them from a risk-benefit perspective.

“If some of the products we carry are not that profitable and there is a lot of risk, we probably will be hesitant to be long in those products,” he continued. “Of course, if they are products our growers need and will use, we will make sure we have them on hand.”

Dave Coppess, vice president of Heartland Co-Op in West Des Moines, IA, said 2010 will be a year of transition in fertilizer “as we readjust to the experience we had with fertilizer being upside down and as we lost the favor of a lot of our customers. We are using this as an opportunity to be aggressive in our marketplace and reestablish ourselves as their favorite supplier.”

Educating Growers

Talking to growers about managing fertilizer risk and providing more options for working with the retailer will be important initiatives for Wisconsin River Agronomy, says Scott Firlus, vice president of agronomy.

“We are educating the farmer on how to lock in margins by selling grain and buying crop nutrients at the same time,” said Firlus. Internally, the retailer is working a lot tighter with its grain facilities than it has in the past.

“We are doing more contracts with farmers, and when we do pre-sell, it is a contracted commitment,” said Dan Weber, president of Ceres Solutions, Crawfordsville, IN. “We deliver and they take it at contracted prices; we don’t do the blanket pre-pay anymore.”

Weber says they are adjusting by trying to form a better partnership with growers. “With larger operations, we hold two business meetings with growers a year and include the agronomy, technical and procurement people to give growers a feel for where the market is going. The technical people are there to ensure we are talking about yield monitoring, grid sampling, and some of the technology tools to make them more efficient.”

“We are looking at our sales team and marketing team,” notes Coppess. “Realigning it a little differently than has been historically done, trying to position it not only for the present but for the next generation farmer. We have the opportunity to make changes and position ourselves for the long term.”

Partnering With Growers

According to Eggleston, growers are getting larger in Hintzsche’s area and they are demanding different services than they did 10 years ago. “I would say a lot of the successful ones are really good business people,” he said.

In response, Hintzsche is looking at making adjustments to its infrastructure and will address some of the people skills needed to help salespeople recognize and accommodate changing grower demands. “We are also looking at our pricing philosophy and structure and making sure that it reflects what growers are requesting,” says Eggleston.

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More
EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More
LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More

Trending Articles

CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More
HerbicidesValent’s Fierce XLT Herbicide Receives EPA Approv…
September 8, 2014
Valent U.S.A. Corp. announced today that Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide is now federally registered for preemergence weed control in soybeans Read More
Eric SfiligojIndustry Consolidation Set To Increase Going Forward
September 8, 2014
As the agricultural marketplace moves into fall, one observer predicts the pace of consolidation will grow at all levels. Read More
LegislationCropLife America Leaders Address Regulatory Landscape, …
September 8, 2014
As CropLife America enters its 81st year, the organization’s leaders have seen another period of rapid and visible policy and public issue activity. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More