10 Keys To A More Secure Ag Retail Facility

Use padlocks to secure everything possible at the close of business each day.
Use padlocks to secure everything possible at the close of business each day.

Foul play was not high on the list of probable causes of the explosion at the West Fertilizer facility, but the events of that tragic day have caused retail managers to take a new look at everything they do to protect and secure their property from all sorts of hazards, accidental and otherwise.

J. Billy Pirkle is one of agriculture’s most respected experts on safety and security at the retail level, and he has the daunting task of establishing and communicating best practices to the more than 750 locations that comprise the industry’s largest retailer, Crop Production Services (CPS).
In addition to his work at CPS, Pirkle has been highly active with the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) on issues of safety and security, and is always willing to share his thoughts and research on what works, and what doesn’t at the retail outlet.

His reaction to the West Fertilizer tragedy was not dissimilar to that of most retailers — shock and horror over the images and reports. In the days that followed he was driven by a desire to find out exactly what happened so he could work to ensure that something like this never occurs on his watch.

The exact cause of the explosion was still unknown when we caught up with Pirkle, but we asked him what steps retailers should take in its aftermath to improve safety and security at the retail outlet.

1. Use The SVA Tool. The Security Vulnerability Assessment tool was developed by Agribusiness Security Working Group, and is supported by the ARA, CropLife America and The Fertilizer Institute in cooperation with the Asmark Institute. “I would strongly recommend that retailers use this tool to assess vulnerability, and to work on continuous improvement,” says Pirkle. “It will also necessitate that you involve your local fire department and emergency responders in answering some of the questions, which is a good way to start a dialogue.”

2. Always Be Assessing. There should be some type of weekly or daily assessments or walk-arounds. “You should be looking at access points, looking for unwanted traffic across property and trying to minimize it,” says Pirkle.

3. Work To Limit Access. When it comes to keeping outsiders from coming into the retail facility, there’s not a clear-cut approach to what works. Perimeter fencing, cables, bollards and even ditches can serve to provide some level of deterrence. “The goal is to minimize unwanted traffic, and there are many approaches retailers are using,” says Pirkle.

4. Add A Security System. “We strongly encourage the use of a security system, and at CPS we require a security system in the office and the chemical shed,” notes Pirkle. “Systems used include everything from motion detectors to video cameras to alarm systems. A relatively new security system CPS is starting to use called Tattle Tale pairs up a laser motion detection system with a phone modem, and will automatically alert law enforcement if the laser is tripped.

5. Pull In Local Law Enforcement. “We will typically meet with the sheriff or local law enforcement and have a conversation with them about security,” says Pirkle. “Our facilities are not manned 24 hours a day. We’re here a lot, but much of the year we’re on site only 10 hours a day so our facility would not have personnel on site the other 14 hours. We encourage law enforcement to come by, drive through the property and turn around … we give them full permission to park on property and have as much presence as possible.”

6. Report Everything. “Back when I started, when we had small petty thefts like a stolen battery from a vehicle, or even graffiti, we may not have reported them,” he says. “These days we are encouraging outlets to report all trespassing to law enforcement no matter how minor. It helps law enforcement understand what is going on in the community.”

7. Control Inventory. Good inventory habits are essential to security. “We will go in and review high dollar and hazardous material every morning to ensure we did not have any theft overnight,” says Pirkle. “Inventory control and accountability are critical.”

8. Do Background Checks. “We’ve made security background checks on all new employees a requirement of our new employee hiring process,” says Pirkle. “It’s not as costly or labor intensive as it was even a decade ago. Today it is automated to the point where you can get a background check in 48 hours in some cases, especially if states have electronic databases.”

9. Limit Key Access. Limit access to keys, and minimize the risk of duplication of keys by marking them “do not duplicate.” “Locksmiths and key makers are supposed to abide by the ‘do not duplicate’ mark and refuse to make copies,” says Pirkle. “Also, take keys out of vehicles and lock them up at the end of shifts.”

10. Lock Down What You Can. In rural communities folks may not feel the need to lock-up the house, but the retail facility should be closed up tight every night. “Lock-up valves, pull down and lock windows and doors and secure all access points to discourage intrusion,” says Pirkle.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Stewardship Stories

Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing’ Phosphorus Levels
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Greenhouse Gas Reductions
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Wilbur-Ellis Sedgwick Grand opening 2015
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Receives ResponsibleAg Certification At Sedgwick Location
September 9, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis Co., a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution of crop protection products, announces the ResponsibleAg certification Read More
Ford B. West Center For Responsible Agriculture, Asmark Institute
StewardshipResponsibleAg Conducts 1000th Audit
September 7, 2016
In less than two years ResponsibleAg has enrolled more than 2,100 facilities and recently completed its 1,000th audit. Yara’s West Read More
Trending Articles
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Osage Co-op Elevator Osage, IA Finished Building
OpinionAre We Crazy?
September 8, 2016
At some point in the first few months of my employment here at CropLife® magazine, I started getting curious about Read More
ManagementMAGIE 2016 Highlights and Deere Anti-Trust
September 1, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition and the Department of Justice’s objection to John Deere Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Latest News
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
CropLife 100Farmers Union Oil Co. Votes To Join CHS
September 30, 2016
Eligible voting members of Farmers Union Oil Co., a diversified agricultural retailer based out of Oslo, MN, have cast affirmative Read More
EmployeesOABA Program Develops Future Generation Of Agribusiness…
September 29, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will select up to 25 promising leaders to participate in a leadership enhancement program early next Read More
ManagementThoughts on CropLife America and the PSM Appeal
September 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent CropLife America annual meeting and the successful appeal of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsMarrone Bio Innovations’ SVP And Chief Sustainability O…
September 29, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., a leading provider of effective and environmentally responsible pest management and plant health products, announced today Read More
Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing…
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
Industry NewsGROWMARK To Purchase Suncor’s Share Of UPI
September 26, 2016
GROWMARK and Suncor have reached an agreement in which GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50% interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More
Corn
Crop InputsEPA Settles With Syngenta For Alleged Multi-Regional Pe…
September 19, 2016
The U.S. EPA has announced a multi-region settlement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) in Greensboro, NC, for alleged violations of Read More