Raising The Bar

When you get really familiar with something, you begin to take it for granted. It’s human nature — everyone is so busy, and our senses are so regularly bombarded with e-mails and crises and challenges from every front, it takes something significant to get us to sit up and take notice.

We’re no exception around here … when we’re in the groove cranking out copy, or sending out e-mails, or talking to you on the phone, it takes something big to shake us out of the zone. But when the Environmental Respect Awards program comes around and it’s your time to take a full day out of the schedule to review entries and help with the judging process, that’s a big thing. 

I never tire of being involved in the program, and I particularly appreciate the opportunity to dissect and consider nearly every entry submitted from across the country. This year, I sat across the table from CropLife America’s Allan Noe and shared the judge’s room with Jack Eberspacher of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), Ford West of The Fertilizer In­stitute, Dan Kennedy of Ritter Crop Services, Scott Firlus of Wisconsin River Agrono­my, and Roger Rorhbough from sponsor DuPont Crop Protection.

We had 49 self-audit packages to review this year, and enthusiasm was high. With the marked improvement in the general ag economy, it is clear that retailers are in the mood to celebrate their achievements. In total, 20 retail outlets received state Environmental Respect Awards, and from these 20, five regional winners were selected to represent retail excellence in Washington, DC, and honor a National winner.

I’ve observed in recent years of judging that getting to the regional level is less and less about having the facility in order and up to spec. In general, state and governmental regulations  have set a bar high enough that in order to stay in business and compliant, “excellence” has become the minimum standard. (I should also give a nod to industry consolidation, which has pushed out facilities not up to snuff.) There’s still a continuum of achievement, but it’s a lot shorter these days.

Where I see a measurable difference with regional finishers is the intangibles, or what we like to define as “spirit.”  Top finishers have always had some level of involvement in the communities in which they do business, but the level of commitment continues to rise among regional winners. The regional winner I visited, Posey County Co-op, sits in the southwest corner of Indiana near the Illinois border. It is involved in both state associations, as well as ARA and a number of county-based foundations and groups. It also has two Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) on staff who have won state-level CCA of the Year honors. The organization has also reached out to children to help enhance the image and accessibility of ag to young people.

General Manager Jim Swinney put it this way: “Our company benefits greatly from the communities of which we are a part. We have an obligation to these communities to contribute to the aesthetics and quality of life, be it in the form of good facilities, good equipment, safe and courteous personnel, or the donations of time and funds.”

This is the kind of commitment that not only wins awards, but the trust of the community as well. Congratulations to all of you!

Leave a Reply

Latest News
Eric SfiligojThe 2016 CropLife 100 Preview
October 28, 2016
Fall is in full swing and we at CropLife magazine are busy putting the finishing touches on our end-of-the-year stories and Read More
ManagementHighlights from the PrecisionAg Vision Conference
October 28, 2016
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Matthew Grassi discuss what was talked about at the 1st annual PrecisionAg Vision Conference and provide Read More
Crop InputsOhio State Researchers Announce Progress on ‘Phos…
October 27, 2016
Researchers at The Ohio State University are investigating new techniques to detect organic phosphorus compounds in water samples from the Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program To Launch…
October 26, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program will expand the voluntary retailer program to the full state of Ohio, allowing nutrient Read More
AGCO RG700 at the 2015 National Farm Machinery Show
EquipmentAGCO Parts Rolls Out No-Interest, No-Payments Offer Via…
October 26, 2016
AGCO Corp. is now offering an innovative financing solution on qualifying Parts and Service transactions. Now through December 31, 2016, Read More
Soybean field
Crop InputsIncotec Invests In North America
October 25, 2016
Leading seed enhancement company Incotec, part of Croda, has announced an investment in their North America business. The total investment of Read More
Patriot 25th anniversary
SprayersCase IH Celebrates 25 Years Of Patriot Sprayers At Bens…
October 24, 2016
Case IH executives, employees and special guests celebrated 25 years of production of Case IH Patriot sprayers in a special Read More
4r Nutrient stewardship
StewardshipNominations For The 4R Advocate Program Due October 31
October 24, 2016
Nominations for the 4R Advocate program are due to The Fertilizer Institute by October 31, 2016. The program recognizes agricultural Read More
Corn close up
Eric SfiligojProtecting Agriculture’s Ability To Feed The World
October 24, 2016
The rate of change coming to agriculture is growing, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This Read More
Student Young Worker CHS
CropLife 100CHS Supports #FirstJob Compact
October 24, 2016
CHS joins the White House and many of the country’s largest employers in signing a new initiative centered on helping Read More
Kennebec Grain terminal
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Kennebec Facility Loads First Rail Cars
October 21, 2016
In a season of firsts for Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Grain Terminal, the first 115-car unit train was loaded with soybeans Read More
ManagementThe Latest Dow-DuPont Rumor, Product of the Year Voting…
October 20, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares a new rumor about the Dow-DuPont merger and updates on two CropLife-driven programs, the CropLife Read More
Soybean Closeup
FungicidesFMC Begins Registration Process For New Fungicide Activ…
October 19, 2016
FMC Agricultural Solutions has begun the joint U.S. EPA and Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency registration process for bixafen, a new Read More
Soil Young Corn
Industry NewsAgribusiness Search Firm Appoints New Managing Partner
October 18, 2016
Morris Bixby Group, a leading agribusiness search firm providing the highest quality professional recruiting and career advancement services since 2000, Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
FertilizerUnited Suppliers Acquires Kansas Fertilizer Business
October 17, 2016
United Suppliers, Inc. has purchased the assets of Evans Enterprises, LLC, an ammonium chloride fertilizer business based in Olathe, KS. Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsFMC Launches New Operations In Argentina, Exits Joint V…
October 17, 2016
FMC Corp. has exited its joint venture with Ruralco Soluciones S.A. FMC has launched new commercial operations, FMC Quimica S.A., Read More
Dow AgroSciences
InsecticidesRenewed Registration Issued For Products Containing Sul…
October 17, 2016
On October 14, 2016, the U.S. EPA re-established the registration of products containing sulfoxaflor (Isoclast Active), including Transform WG, Closer Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Whys Of Agriculture
October 17, 2016
During 2016, there have been myriad challenges facing the whole agricultural industry. Such wide ranging issues as water protection, sustainable Read More