Being an environmentalist on Oprah and sending a check to the Sierra Club is a little different than protecting the environment every day because your livelihood depends upon it.
That’s a key reason we started the Environmental Respect Awards back in 1990. To gain some exposure for those of you who live out your environmentalism day-in, day-out as you serve your farmer customers. Those across the country who make sure the valves are turned off, the product is secure and the gate is locked before they go home for the night.
This premier awards effort, supported for 20 years by DuPont Crop Protection, began with the premise that the vast majority of those in agriculture are intent on protecting and preserving the environment. Not many, though, were stepping up to talk about it. Most were hoping the whole “environmental movement” would just blow over. Environmental Respect was designed to show what a sound retail outlet looked like and encourage you to go ahead and BE the environmentalist. Not the talk-show kind, but the walk-the-talk-everyday-of-the-week kind.
I’m thankful to have helped originate this effort. It’s given me a ringside seat to the progress you’ve made. As I’ve traveled to dozens of our award-winning businesses over the years, I’ve been impressed with the attention paid to dike, contain, cover and fence. Many of you have modeled for the industry what environmental stewardship looks like. And you are able to speak boldly, from a position of knowledge and commitment.
What should be next for those who ARE Environmental Respect? Perhaps it’s ramping up your evangelism.
It would seem there’s work to be done when some large farmers begin to buy fertilizer and other inputs on their own and run the risk of storing them improperly. The question is this: What’s the difference between the need for containment and stewardship whether the product is at a retail outlet at the edge of town or five miles away at a grower’s address?
Inside this riddle can be a business advantage for retailers, too. You are the ones who’ve spent big dollars for the concrete, steel, and rolling stock designed to store, blend, load, transport, and apply all those inputs that make crops grow and keep them healthy. You can meet their needs in a safe way.
Long story short, perhaps it’s time that everyone — including producers large and small — accept the code of Environmental Respect that says “assume our share of responsibility in preserving and protecting the environment.” You could politely lead that effort in your hometown, because you are an environmentalist. You can fly the flag of Environmental Respect.
Visit www.environmentalrespect.com, renew your pledge and enter this year’s special 20th anniversary effort. If you’re a past regional or national winner from 2006 or earlier, you are eligible to compete again for our new “Spirit of Respect Awards.” I look forward to seeing you at our special celebration on Capitol Hill this summer.