Dropping An ‘F’ Bomb

Now that I’ve covered this market for nine years, I’ve found that true surprises are becoming fewer and farther between. In the past two years, I’ve had only two truly jaw dropping moments — one in 2007, when an equipment owner said he didn’t believe the boom in the ag economy would last so he wasn’t expanding (a correct assessment, as it turns out) and one in 2008, when I learned that a well-respected manufacturer was struggling to impress customers with its precision offerings.

The third jaw dropper happened during the 2009 Commodity Classic. I could never have predicted this one, given what I think I know about the industry.

Before I get to this moment of surprise, let’s look back. Exactly one year ago, I wrote a column praising the ability of ag retailers to build long-lasting, strong relationships with their grower-customers while providing them with not only needed inputs, but useful information. I pointed out that, compared to other markets I’ve covered, this trait seemed unique to our industry and was the key to future success/growth.

Fast forward to this year. I was sitting in a on a panel discussion of five growers during a pre-Commodity Classic event. This group had more than 100-plus years experience and farmed more than 12,000 acres of ground in the states of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.

Talking about current ag conditions, someone asked who these growers used as their primary information sources. Naturally, given their histories and locations, I expected all five to universally answer their local ag retailer.

Boy, was I wrong.

Three out of the five growers said they didn’t have strong relationships with retailers. The grower from North Dakota said he relied on university folks for information, adding that retailers in his area “get left in the dust.” The Oklahoma grower agreed. “I don’t have the support from my local retailer that we’ve hoped for,” he said. “We need Extension to help.” Finally, the Iowa grower said he bought inputs from several dealers — the implication being that products, not information, was what he got from retailers.

So out of five growers, only two used retailers for information. If this were a test, this 40% relationship grade would give our industry a solid “F.”

Can this marketplace maintain its historic success with a failing grade attached to one of its founding principles? I don’t think so.

Retailers everywhere need to keep their trusted advisor status intact if they hope to survive, especially in these uncertain economic times. The minute our industry becomes nothing more than a bunch of “input suppliers” is when ag retailers can all be replaced by lower cost, big box-type competitors.

Luckily, my faith in the future for ag retailers was restored somewhat by comments from the panel’s Kansas grower. “For­tunately, we have a really good retailer who knows their stuff when it comes to information,” he said.

We need to make sure all our grower-customers think this is the case.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
StewardshipBayer Entomologist Issues Statement On Annual Honeybee Losses
May 13, 2015
Richard (Dick) Rogers, Principal Scientist / Entomologist, Bayer Bee Care Center for Bayer CropScience LP, today issued the following statement Read More
Monsanto Sign
Eric SfiligojThe Cat & Mouse Game Between Syngenta And Monsanto Begins
May 11, 2015
Last week, I talked about how two crop protection industry giants, Syngenta and Monsanto, had engaged in some acquisition discussions. Read More
Syngenta
Eric SfiligojWill Monsanto And Syngenta Combine This Time?
May 4, 2015
Under the heading of “never say never,” it sounds as if crop protection/seed giants Monsanto Co. and Syngenta are once Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Need To Defend Production Agriculture
April 27, 2015
Last week, I spent the better part of my time on the road visiting with ag retailers and market suppliers Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
May 19, 2015
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Syngenta Sign
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Lawyer’s Victory Claim In Vi…
May 18, 2015
A plaintiff’s lawyer has issued a public statement claiming that damages have been awarded in the Agrisure Viptera corn lawsuits Read More
StewardshipCould Australian Water Trading Approach Fit In Californ…
May 18, 2015
Ten years of drought isn’t a good thing. It doesn’t help the bottom line of farmers or the health of Read More
SpreadersDutch Sprayer Manufacturer To Enter U.S. Market
May 18, 2015
Dutch self-propelled sprayer manufacturer Agrifac Machinery has announced intentions to enter the U.S. market with two models of sprayers available Read More
FertilizerTFI Weighs In On Fertilizer Rail Transport Bill
May 14, 2015
With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies Read More
ManagementA Visit To The 2015 Environmental Respect Spirit Award …
May 14, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a recent visit to the CPS Spirit winner in St. Stephen’s Church, Read More
StewardshipBayer Entomologist Issues Statement On Annual Honeybee …
May 13, 2015
Richard (Dick) Rogers, Principal Scientist / Entomologist, Bayer Bee Care Center for Bayer CropScience LP, today issued the following statement Read More
Crop InputsKansas State Researchers Announce Resistant Kochia Brea…
May 13, 2015
Kansas State University researchers say new research helps explain why an invasive weed is developing resistance to a well-known herbicide, Read More
RR2X soybeans surround untreated check (center)
HerbicidesUSDA Study: Glyphosate Application More Prevalent In So…
May 13, 2015
Glyphosate—known by many trade names, including Roundup—has been the most widely used pesticide in the United States since 2001. It Read More
AdjuvantsHelena Chemical Introduces New Drift Control Adjuvant J…
May 13, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. introduces Justified, an innovative drift control agent designed to improve the performance and precision of spray applications Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unificati…
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More