Environmental Respect Awards: 2007 State Winners

CPS employee truck

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 has been showcasing some of these facilities throughout 2007. This month, we profile retailers that have won 2007 state awards for their efforts, with many experiencing increased business and customer loyalty as a result of their participation. These companies have filled out the Environmental Respect Awards Self-Audit booklet, pledged their commitment, seen results, and are proof that participation matters.

Awareness, Pride, And Hard Work


Even through harsh weather and southern heat, Dothan, AL-based Crop Production Services‘ chemical and fertilizer facility continues to be leak- and spill-free. The buildings and equipment each undergo a daily routine in which all of the manifold valves, tanks, and other storage containers are checked for leaks, cracks, and other potential problems.

Crop Production Services also works hard to maintain a healthy working relationship with the local fire and police department and has trained personnel on site in case of emergency. “We ensure that everything at the farm centers is done correctly, properly, and environmentally,” says Terry Adams, manager of Crop Production Services.   

In addition to community involvement, the company has taken precautions to make sure that the chemicals and fertilizers are safely and contained. There is a chain link fence surrounding the perimeter of the property, and all chemical mixing is done in a single building with a solid concrete foundation, helping to keep any potential spills small and centralized.

At Crop Production Services, the company also believes in student education. It readily gives presentations and is an avid supporter of the Young Farmers’ and Cattlemen’s Associations. “It is the duty of each and every one of us to do our part in making sure that we view each day as an opportunity to improve the environment that we live in,” says Adams. “This can only be accomplished by awareness, pride, and hard work.”

A Big Boost For A Small Town


A small town business can make a huge difference; just look at Ritter Crop Services, Inc. of Marked Tree, AR. Recently, the company removed contaminating chemicals from an abandoned building, tore it down, and put up a new state-of-the-art facility in its place. This has helped preserve the environment, beautify the town, and improve the area in general.

According to Dan Kennedy, general manager, Ritter Crop Services has worked hard to create and maintain a workplace that is safe for the employees, the community, and the environment. But the company’s service to the community and the environment does not stop there. 

Ritter Crop Services closely follows EPA regulations and it even goes beyond its own property to clean and preserve the environment. In 2004, the company spent time and money to see that the property around its plant was safe and clean, even though it did not own it. With some cleaning and disposing of contaminated soil, the company helped to show the community that it is important to care for the environment as a whole, instead of just taking care of the part you inhabit.

“At Ritter Crop Services, our customers are farmers who must make their living off the land, and we must assist them in using the agricultural chemicals and fertilizers in an environmentally sound manner,” says Kennedy. “We are caretakers of the resources that we use in our daily lives, and it is our responsibility to manage all of our resources for the benefit of present and future generations.” 

Spreading The Seeds Of Respect


“Our Clewiston plant is kept ‘green and clean’ because keeping our environment clean is very important to the future of our company and the future of our country,” says David Plank, manager of Douglass Fertilizer & Chemical. This agricultural chemical dealer in south central Florida takes pride in its green policies and proudly gives tours to customers, government officials, and fellow industry members.

All employees are trained to handle Level II hazardous materials and safety is supervised by an outside company that has been brought in by management to make certain all possible safety procedures are being followed. 

According to Plank, Douglass Fertilizer & Chemical constantly promotes agriculture and environmental respect at home and in the community. The company takes pride in its spotless record of health and environmental care as it continues to spread its message of environmental stewardship.

“Being aware of your role and impact on the environment is the key to being able to perserve and care for it. If everyone recognized the importance of the environment and of agriculture, the world would be in a better state,” says Plank. “Douglass Fertilizer & Chemical is doing its best to spread and develop this message and to help preserve our world.”

Happy Customers, Happy Environment


“Our mission is to provide the best service to our customers.” These were the words spoken by Brent Briscoe, area manager of UAP Distribution in Flora, IL, when he was asked about his company’s relationship with the community and clientele. He went on to say: “Environmental respect is one of the most important parts of our business. We want them [customers] to be proud of the facility they buy from. We built a new location … so that we would have all of the new, modern, environmental devices in the industry.”

The improvements that have been made are some of many reasons why UAP Distribution is receiving the Environmental Respect Award for the state of Illinois. The company is also very generous in its support of the community. It makes a yearly donation to the fire department for emergency equipment, it give tours of its facility, and company representatives speak at colleges. The company and community also band together to support local families who are going through hard times. This is an example of a company that is vital to the community in which it thrives.

Located in a modern industrial park, UAP Distribution holds monthly safety meetings about a variety of topics, and has a special clerk to make sure that the company is constantly in compliance with all of the state and national laws regarding chemicals and fertilizers. With dedication to the environment, safety, and its customers, it seems that UAP needs only to keep up its level of environmental enthusiasm and continue to spread its message of stewardship.

Conservation By Daylight


“We feel that we must do everything possible to preserve the environment we live in so that we can continue to grow food and fiber to sustain the world,” says Brian Herr, manager of Daylight Farm Supply in Evansville, IN. The employees there see environmental stewardship as a way to sustain the environment, the population, and their livelihood.

“Because so much is depending upon their work and the work of the growers they serve, it is important that employees view the environment as important and essential to life,” says Herr. “They are hugely concerned with the preservation of the land and the chemicals that are used on it.” This is why all employees at Daylight Farm Supply go through rigorous training, both on and off site, to become familiar with the chemicals they are dealing with. 

The company also tries to use the natural surrounding to the fullest. For example, it collects large amounts of rainwater and uses it in the application of chemicals and fertilizers. This helps save energy and keeps the resources truly natural.

Daylight Farm Supply reaches out to the community by working with local 4-H programs, high school agriculture classes, and the FFA (Future Farmers of America). As they become young adults, these students will continue to spread the message of environmental stewardship and the importance of agriculture. Perhaps Herr sums it up best: “By investing in the environment we are, at the same time, investing in our future.”

Attitude Is The Key


“Environmental respect is an attitude, not a task to be completed,” says John Hester, manager and owner of Nichols Ag, Nichols, IA. He claims that there are two types of environmental respect: There is perceptual environmental respect, which is simply freshly painted tanks and nice foliage around the facility, and real environmental respect. This real, earned respect comes from going the extra mile: building monitoring wells, meticulously cleaning past and present spills, and taking proper precautions to guarantee that there are no future spills or contamination of any kind.

Through cooperative efforts with EPA, Nichols Ag has successfully cleaned all of the private wells in the small town and has put in a safeguard system in place to assure that nothing leaks or spills into the town and that it never has any other environmental issues.

According to Hester, Nichols Ag has “one of the cleaner facilities in the country” and it is very aware of the community and its responsibility to keep the land and water clean and healthy. “By keeping the right attitude about environmental respect, the people at Nichols Ag will be a contributing caretaker of the land, crops, and community,” says Hester.

The Best Grower Is An Educated Grower


“We educate our growers on proper application techniques, encourage them to attend trade shows to learn the latest on successful farming practices, and provide them with the tools so they can be successful stewards,” says Katie Lix, executive secretary of Sims Fertilizer & Chemical Co.

Sims Fertilizer & Chemical, Osborne, KS, is concerned with the safety and education of the growers and community that it serves. “We feel that everyone is a steward of the land,” says Lix. The company has safety training sessions, mail-out brochures, and has even created a new Web site to help get its message out to the public.

According to Lix, Sims Fertilizer & Chemical is an ever-present force in the community of Osborne. The company participates in everything from speaking to fundraising to sponsorships. Being active volunteers and stewards in the community helps the retailer become more influential and visible to its neighbors and clients. These events also breed opportunities to spread its message about safe and proactive treatment of the environment.

From friendly reminders in the mail to the promotion of the sale of gloves, Sims Fertilizer & Chemical is protecting the land, those who cultivate it, and those who live off it every day.

A Blissful Environment In Michigan


“Agriculture is how we feed people, and, to ensure the longevity of a safe and secure food supply, we need to put the environment first,” says Larry McKown, manager of Crop Production Services in Blissfield, MI. “We operate and conduct business in the environment in which we live. It is our duty and responsibility to protect it for ourselves, our community, and future generations.”

Crop Production Services supports agricultural education by working with local schools, 4-H, and FFA (Future Farmers of America). In doing this, the company is able to raise awareness about what it as an agricultural chemical company does and how it helps to make the environment as healthy as it can be.

“By having a surplus of safeguards in place, the employees at Crop Production Services can be confident in their ability to protect the environment while, at the same time, helping growers yield large harvests. Through their work and care we can come to understand the place of agriculture and the need for environmental respect in today’s world,” says McKown. 

Co-operating To Preserve Our World


In an 1880 edition of the Litchfield News-Ledger, locals read about how Litchfield was “an unimproved waste, inhabited only by wild beasts …” Today, thanks to companies like Consumer’s Co-op, the once wild land has been cultivated, sown, cropped, and protected.

“We have to be very strong about environmental responsibility and show that we care about what happens in our area,” says Craig Bulau, manager.

According to Bulau, the company supports local growers and the industry in a variety of ways. It has purchased and cultivated land to create a 22-acre research plot. Here, seed developers and chemical companies can create better products, and growers can learn about new varieties of plants as well as how to protect them, effectively and environmentally. 

Through a bi-annual on-site training process with the Litchfield Fire Department, employees develop risk management skills and practice emergency procedures. The company also keeps all chemicals separated so that they are easy to contain in the case of a flood or a fire.

With a clay bottom ditch and an emergency shut-off system, it is virtually impossible for chemicals to escape the property, no matter what problem occurs. “Taking precautions and aiding in the development of new crops and safer products like Consumer’s Co-op does is the best way to ensure the health and continued success of the land we all depend on,” says Bulau. “Developments such as these can help turn any ‘unimproved waste’ land into a flourishing, fertile farming community.”

Growing A Greener Future


Rather than relying on fences, Crop Production Services in Sikeston, MO, has installed motion activated sensors around its containment warehouse. Instead of shipping off its plastic containers, the company facilitates an annual recycling event in which 20,000 or more pounds of plastic are collected to be recycled. These are just two of the many unique approaches to environmental care that Aaron Wade and his team at Crop Production Services implement daily.

“By respecting this environment we not only ensure its preservation for future generations,” says Wade. “Our sound practices at the present are an investment in the future because they will sustain the environment and help guarantee it is availability for years to come.” And Wade and his crew are spreading that message to their customers and community.

They work to help high school graduates get into the agriculture business, and they constantly reach out to the community to share a message about the environment and the importance of agriculture.

 “Our doors are always open to those who question or do not understand agriculture and what kind of impact it has on our society,” says Wade. And what kind of impact does an organization like Crop Production Services have on our society? “One that is good for today and for 50 years from now,” he says. “One that is good for our planet. One that we could all learn from.”

Simple Solutions To A Healthier Environment


“Environmental issues are very important — not only for safety reasons but for the long-term quality of life,” says Duane Stricker, unit supervisor and crop advisor at Simplot Grower Solutions. And by the looks of the facility in Bayard, NE, it is fair to say that the quality of life must be pretty high. 

Environmental and educational issues top the list of importance at Simplot. If the agriculture industry is to survive for years to come, it needs to care for and protect the land that is used to grow crops. Simplot is doing this by putting strict procedures and contingency plans in place and by having top-quality storage facilities for all chemicals and fertilizers that it deals with. The company is also able to maintain a strong relationship with its growers and can assure a healthy growing environment through its professional staff of crop advisors and applicators.

According to Stricker, Simplot has a responsibility to take care of its customers and it will, in turn, help create a thriving business. The retailer provides answers and instructions in a friendly and environmentally safe way to local growers. Its main goal is to help “provide solutions to growers’ problems,” and the company consistently reaches that goal and surpasses it as it shows great care for its clientele and for the environment.

Carolina On My Mind


Welcome to Salem, NY. You won’t find the Broadway blockbusters or the glitz and glamour of the Big Apple in this section of the Empire State, but if you are searching for environmental stewardship, there is an abundance within the walls of the Carolina Eastern-Vail Crop Protection and Nutrient Center.

“Environmental respect is arguably one of the most important issues, not only to our business, but to the world as a whole,” says Peter Vail, Jr., vice president of Carolina Eastern-Vail, Inc. “We need to raise the level of consciousness as to the importance of good conservation practices.”

According to Vail, the company takes extreme care in planning for accidents, spills, and emergency response situations. In fact, Carolina Eastern-Vail was chosen by a New York State Fire Department representative to be a model for an education program on emergency response preparations.

This preparedness paid off in late 2000 when the Salem area experienced what was classified as a “500-Year Flood.” The water levels inside the Carolina-Vail facilities rose over 2 feet and seeped over containment walls in the chemical building, but because everything was properly stored, an inconsequential amount of chemicals were released and a major environmental hazard was avoided.

“Our business, our customers, our community — and every living thing for that matter — can only hope to survive if more respect is shown to the planet which provides us with so very much,” says Vail. That is precisely why Vail and his employees are doing so much to protect the environment that they live and work in, and why they are so concerned with spreading healthy environmental practices.

Angels In The Fields


Visiting Mt. Angel, OR? Make sure you check out the Bavarian-styled shops, the famous Mount Angel Abbey, and all the beautiful farms. It is not rare to see hops, filbert orchards, Christmas trees, berries, pumpkins, ornamental plants, and vineyards while visiting the town. But who helps growers raise such a variety of great crops? One of the best crop chemical and fertilizer dealers in the area is Wilco Agriliance, LLC. The company is knowledgeable, respectful, and environmentally conscious.

“We can’t ask our customers to be environmentally responsible if we ourselves are not,” says Michael Gerig of Wilco Agriliance. “It’s the little things we do that, if shared and practiced, make a huge difference over time.”

The majority of the employees at Wilco Agriliance live in Mt. Angel and are extremely active in the small community. They are eager to share their insight on agriculture with anyone interested. Wilco Agriliance really does make a difference in its community, and it is well respected by area growers and business owners alike.

According to Gerig, Wilco Agriliance has been constantly updating storage and safety equipment. Safety is high priority. This explains why it invests so much in updating its equipment and storage facilities. A safety committee helps to determine corrections and weaknesses that need to be addressed to keep the facility up-to-date and as environmentally friendly as possible.

Leading by example is an important way for Wilco Agriliance to show its customers and community how to preserve natural resources, crops, and homes for future generations, says Gerig.

Service For The Rivers, Crops, And Environment


If you travel about 40 miles southwest of the Susquehanna River, you will come upon “the only town” in Pennsylvania. Welcome to Bloomsburg. The Susquehanna River was named America’s Most Endangered River of 2005 due, in part, to agricultural run-off. Luckily, there are companies like Crop Production Services setting an example about how to treat the environment with care and respect.

According to Manager James J. Jordan, his employees support local agriculture education and jump at the chance to share their messages about environmental stewardship and the need to feed the world. 

“I have learned to respect our environment each and every day,” Jordan says. “The environment is our future. It’s my responsibility to make certain we are keeping our promise to the community to keep [our company] environmentally friendly.”

Whether it is while attending emergency response training seminars, giving tours of its facility, or helping to run the “Ag in the Classroom” project in local schools, Crop Production Services is constantly teaching environmental awareness and knowledge to the community and its own employees. Jordan invites the local fire department to the facilities annually to perform an inspection and to help fix any potential problems in its emergency systems.

“As more companies and citizens begin to adopt practices and attitudes like those of Crop Production Services’ employees, the land will get healthier, the environment will last longer, and the rivers will flow clean and blue,” says Jordan.

Doing The Right Thing


“It is simply the right thing to do.” That is the reply from Stephanie Galland, safety and compliance director at Western Consolidated Cooperative, when asked why the company is so environmentally conscious and up-to-date. In the small town of Twin Brooks, SD, Western Consolidated Cooperative remains a solid asset to the city and the environment. 

The company has two active safety committees under its roof, and there are security cameras monitoring traffic in the chemical buildings during both business and non-business hours. There are annual walk-throughs made by the local fire department where buildings, storage, and water sources are checked.

According to Galland, Western Consolidated Cooperative is very proactive in the education of growers and students interested in agriculture. It also updates growers with new technology and services information by producing  a company newsletter three times each year. 

Having up-to-date equipment and a recycling system in place is an important way to show its clients that Western Consolidated Cooperative is a thriving, caring, and environmentally-friendly company, says Galland.

“As West-Con continues to grow, we have the opportunity to build more efficient and carefully thought-out structures,” says Galland. “In most cases when given the option to upgrade to a safer, more efficient apparatus, we did, usually at our expense … it is simply the right thing to do.”

Simplot’s Got The Solution


At Simplot Grower Solutions, the company knows that agriculture can be unpredictable and complicated. That is why it has adopted and developed its motto: “Delivering Solutions to Growers.”

By having all chemicals and fertilizers under roof and safe from the elements, workers at this facility are able to ensure that any hazardous materials are contained in the case of a spill or cross-contamination. This threat is dismissed even further because the facility is situated above the flood plain for the area.

Simplot has also taken preparations for the worst to make sure that the company is safe in times of trial. Employees have all been trained in handling and recogniting hazardous materials, the local authorities have been informed of the retailer’s emergency response plan, and the firm has its lists of emergency contact and procedural information posted prominently around the buildings.

By being actively involved in the community, the employees at Simplot Grower Solutions are able to help foster interest in agriculture and environmental care. The company does this by giving tours and presentations to local businesses and community groups. It also sends out news releases and updates about the company to local media and clientele in an attempt to keep the community aware of its actions.

Through hard work, training, and dedication to the environment upon which it depends, Simplot is able to guarantee a secure working environment for its employees, a safe living environment for the surrounding community, and healthy agriculture and land for generations to come, says Justin Shahan, unit supervisor.

A Safe And Evolving Attitude


“Respecting our environment is one of the most important legacies we can leave our children and grandchildren,” says Scott Firlus, agronomy manager of Wisconsin River Agronomy. “Failure to protect our water, air, and natural resources threatens the public health and our country’s economic vitality.”

These beliefs help explain why Wisconsin River Agronomy does so much for the community. The company holds several educational events annually focusing on the farming community as well as the general public. It also gives tours of its facility, teaches students about agriculture and wildlife, and hosts speakers who help to relate its message of environmental responsibility to the local population.

Employees are trained extensively, all workers attend a safety training seminar before each spring planting season, and are supplied with guide books filled with spill containment instructions and emergency numbers. The staff now has a wealth of education and is ready and willing to work with customers on issues of protection, production, and management of crops, resources, and chemicals, says Firlus.

Wisconsin River Agronomy’s approach to environmental stewardship is continually evolving as it constantly promotes awareness for environmental issues. Environmental sensitivity is at the heart of Wisconsin River Agronomy’s business plan. “Business depends on the environment for the people of Wisconsin River Agronomy, and so, it is consistently attempting to improve and further its level of environmental stewardship and involvement,” he says.  


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