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
Young Corn Plants
Eric SfiligojLaunching New Seed Traits: Wait on China . . . Or Else!
June 26, 2017
In life, no one likes the waiting game. In agriculture, however, playing the waiting game is very important – especially Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Speaks on Dicamba Issues in Arkansas
June 26, 2017
Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer, Robb Fraley, issued the following statement following the Arkansas State Plant Board’s proposal to ban dicamba, Read More
Corn Field
Seed/BiotechCorn Insect Bt Technologies Offer Cost-effective, Proac…
June 26, 2017
When farm economics are challenging, farmers look for ways to bolster profit margins, including reducing input costs. Some may think Read More
Crop InputsArkansas Plant Board Votes to Ban Dicamba — Now W…
June 23, 2017
The Arkansas State Plant Board has voted to pass a proposed emergency rule to ban the use of in-crop dicamba, Read More
Engenia soybeans
Crop InputsBASF: ‘Closely Monitoring’ Dicamba Situatio…
June 22, 2017
BASF, whose Engenia herbicide is the target of more than 200 drift complaints in Arkansas, emailed the following statement to Read More
ManagementConsolidation Update
June 22, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss progress on manufacturer consolidation, and another big move for Midwest cooperative Central Valley Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
Crop InputsThreat of Dicamba Ban Looms in Arkansas
June 22, 2017
The Arkansas State Plant Board has rejected a proposed ban on the use of dicamba herbicide, but a procedural error Read More
Potash Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium-PotashCorp to become Nutrien upon Merger Complet…
June 21, 2017
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. have announced today that once the anticipated merger transaction closes, the new Read More
Crop InputsMidwestern BioAg Hosts TerraNu Fertilizer Plant Opening…
June 20, 2017
Last Friday, Midwestern BioAg was joined by over 80 local farmers, media and staff to celebrate the grand opening of Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsAligned Ag Distributors Names New President
June 19, 2017
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC announced this morning the appointment of Mary Tolke to the position of President/CEO, effective July 1. Read More
ManagementPlotting Corn, AGCO/Asmark’s Applicator Training Center…
June 15, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about their recent visits to Columbus, OH, and Bloomington, IL, along with an Read More
Seed/BiotechDow AgroSciences Announces Launch of Enlist Corn for 20…
June 14, 2017
Enlist corn will be commercially available in the U.S. for the 2018 growing season. Dow AgroSciences announced the launch today Read More
ASMARK AGCO Applicator Training Center
EmployeesAsmark, AGCO Open Training Center for Beginning Applica…
June 13, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute have opened a new Applicator Training Center, created in a collaboration between the two Read More
Power to Do More Contest Winners
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Three Winners in Power to Do…
June 13, 2017
Thousands of votes have been cast and three farmers have been awarded the power to do more with a $10,000 Read More
Frogeye leaf spot
FungicidesStrobilurin-resistant Frogeye Leaf Spot Threat Looms wi…
June 13, 2017
Heavy spring rainfall throughout the South and Midwest delayed planting and created the perfect environment for diseases like frogeye leaf Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
LegislationICGA Praises President Trump’s Remarks on Waterwa…
June 12, 2017
Illinois Corn Growers Association President Justin Durdan, a farmer from Utica, issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s comments Read More
Wheat Growers
UncategorizedWheat Growers Names Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice Presiden…
June 12, 2017
Wheat Growers has hired Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice President of Agronomy. Linbo joins Wheat Growers after having served 10 Read More