The Environmental Respect Awards is in its 17th year of honoring and celebrating agricultural environmentalism throughout the industry. Hundreds of dealerships have been recognized for their efforts and CropLife magazine will be showcasing some of these facilities each month through May. Those profiled here have won participant plaques and state awards at the local level for their efforts, and many have experienced increased business and customer loyalty as a result of their participation. They have filled out the Environmental Respect Awards Self-Audit, they have pledged their commitment, they have seen results, and they are proof that participation matters.
Countryside Coop, Osseo, WI
“We strive to be an example of what happens when an agricultural retailer responds to the needs of growers in an environmentally sound manner,” says Robert Lunde, branch manager at Countryside. “Efficiency and profitability should not be the only way to gauge success.”
To this end, the operation uses the following to measure their business and ensure they are meeting the needs of their customers:
- Educate the end-user.
- Rectify problems of the past.
- Develop and carry out an environmental plan.
- Work with state and governmental agencies.
- Correct any known deficiencies or problems.
- Monitor and test for pollution.
- Install and use equipment that aids in protecting the environment.
- Provide environmental compliance services to customers.
Employees and management practice these philosophies every day. Countryside trains workers for emergency situations, including fire, HAZMAT, and security techniques. The company built a new chemical and liquid fertilizer facility; and all liquid fertilizers, micronutrients, and chemicals are computer blended and loaded under roof on a mix pad with sumps. A full-time emergency compliance officer is on staff and the company recently completed a FEMA audit and put a terrorism plan into place.
“Farm supply retailers should be committed to applying, handling, and selling their goods and services in a manner that protects the environment and is good for the community,” says Lunde. “I would recommend all dealerships participate in the [Environmental Respect Awards] program. It promotes a heightened awareness of what needs to be done, what can be done, and what should be done.”
Wheeler Bros. Grain Co., Thomas, OK
“Reserves of water are continually deteriorating, along with water quality,” says Rodney Wilson, manager of Wheeler Bros. Grain Co. in Thomas. “We have taken an interest in protecting this commodity with barriers against possible pollutants.”
The business loads all its sprayers over a protected concrete surface and applies the proper rate of pesticides using GPS guidance and mapping technology to improve accuracy and prevent pollution. Only trained professionals handle the mixing and application processes, and employees are trained in emergency response and the proper handling of hazardous materials.
In addition to protecting the community’s ground water supply, Wheeler Bros. is also active locally by speaking of crop development at the public schools and by providing age-appropriate demonstrations on the company’s impact on environmental stewardship.
“We share with the community the many phases that must be completed to deliver a healthy, wholesome product to the family table,” says Wilson. “Producers, homeowners, and children have all taken an interest in what we do for the community. Our philosophy is that you cannot cheat the environment or it will cheat you.”