One Last Look Back

As the calendar gets ready to turn, I’m certain many folks in the ag retail industry are looking back at 2009 and remembering what they lost during this most turbulent year. By now, you’ve probably seen all the key headlines from what analysts are calling The Great Recession. Massive inventory write-downs, lost sales volume, and depressed margins have affected many in the marketplace. I’m certain once the page flips to 2010, most of these individuals will be celebrating, if for no other reason than having survived to do business for another year.

For myself, however, I will be remembering the non-survivors of 2009 as the new year comes around. I’ve covered this business for almost a full decade now and I can’t remember another year where so many fine industry leaders and legends left us to carry on without them. Of course, the biggest individual to go in 2009 – at least in terms of impact – was Dr. Norman Borlaug, the father of the green revolution. By most conservative accounts, Borlaug’s revolutionary approaches to agriculture have been responsible for saving more than 1 billion lives. On the association side, the Agricultural Retailers Association lost its leader, Jack Eberspacher. Leading the group since 2001, Eberspacher is credited with turning the association around in terms of finances and political influence.

While I knew both Borlaug (by reputation) and Eberspacher (through occasional contact), two other deaths affected me more personally in 2009. One was Mike Turner, head of the Wisconsin Crop Protection Association. When I first met Mike in 2005, it was clear he had big plans for his trade group and its roll in shaping legislative policy for member companies. Mike could be a tough debater. But he had a softer side as well, writing children’s books in his spare time.

Then there was Bob Mills. A long-time fixture at tender manufacturer Ray-Man, Bob was fun-loving and jovial at industry events. He once gave me a business card listing his credentials, including “emptying saloons and selling swamp land.” But Bob could also be serious when the situation called for it. Often when I was writing a story on ag retail equipment, Bob would provide me with insider information or a quote that “told it like it is.”

In one sense, I’m glad I got to spend parts of the last 10 years getting to know these industry friends and learn more about them. They helped me find my way through my “new guy” learning curve and provided many pearls of valuable wisdom I will take with me into 2010 and beyond.

It’s a shame they all couldn’t be here for just a little while longer.

Leave a Reply

Latest News
FungicidesSyngenta Launches New Seed Treatment Fungicide
May 22, 2017
Syngenta has announced the launch of PLENARIS seed treatment fungicide for the control of downy mildew in sunflower. PLENARIS contains Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsMonsanto’s First HPPD Herbicide Garners EPA Appro…
May 19, 2017
Monsanto announced today that EPA has federally approved Harness MAX Herbicide, the first herbicide in the Monsanto portfolio to provide Read More
ManagementPrecision Planting Deal, China Developments, and Enviro…
May 18, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the latest news on John Deere’s now dead deal for Precision Planting, China’s Read More
Soybean aphid leaf
InsecticidesMulti-state Research Reveals IPM Best Option for Treatm…
May 17, 2017
About 89.5 million acres of soybeans will be planted across the U.S. in 2017 — a record high, according to Read More
GROWMARK-2017-Interns
CropLife 100GROWMARK Names 2017 Summer Interns
May 16, 2017
Forty-two college students are exploring agricultural career opportunities this summer as GROWMARK interns. They are working at FS member cooperatives Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Ag…
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
FertilizerBoth Wet and Dry Conditions Threaten Nitrogen Loss
May 15, 2017
The weather is notoriously unpredictable, leading to challenges for planting, harvesting and applying the nitrogen (N) your corn crop needs. Read More
farmer Kip Tom
Precision AgAg Tech: On the Cusp of Something Big?
May 15, 2017
The investment and ag-tech sectors’ continuing courtship of agriculture, smoldering for three or four years now, was well in evidence at Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
ManagementOpinion: Shaking Your Perspective in Ag Retail
May 12, 2017
Some of you I’m sure have encountered our recently retired salesman extraordinaire, Dan Bellanger. He worked in the industry for Read More
Exterior view of CPS Big Lake facility which includes enclosed receiving and load out area
CropLife 100New Alternative Weed Resistance Traits Could Experience…
May 12, 2017
It wasn’t too many years ago that ag retailers and their grower-customers could hardly wait for new options to fight Read More
Diane Allemang and Dan Jacobs
Crop InputsFMC Agricultural Solutions, Casa Pacifica Partner to He…
May 11, 2017
FMC Agricultural Solutions is teaming up with Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, an organization that supports vulnerable children Read More
UncategorizedWhat’s Up With ARA
May 11, 2017
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj talks with Brian Reuwee regarding what issues are on the docket for the Agricultural Retailers Association. Read More
BASF Maglis tablet retailer grower
Precision AgQ&A: What BASF’s Latest Foray into Precision …
May 11, 2017
In late April, BASF agreed to acquire U.S. precision ag player ZedX, a leader in the development of agronomic weather, Read More
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters into Distribution Agreem…
May 11, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., a leading global provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products for the agriculture markets, Read More
Bayer
Crop InputsBayer to Sell Liberty Business to Seal Monsanto Deal
May 8, 2017
Bayer has agreed to sell its Liberty herbicide and LibertyLink-branded seeds businesses to win antitrust approval for its acquisition of Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationTrump’s EPA Appointee Dismisses Half of Major Sci…
May 8, 2017
(Via NYTimes.com) EPA has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what Read More
Winter Wheat
FungicidesREGALIA Rx Available from Koch Agronomic Services for 2…
May 8, 2017
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC has announced that REGALIA Rx biofungicide is available for U.S. corn, wheat and soybean growers who Read More