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
FertilizerGypsum Added To List Of Conservation Practices
July 28, 2016
Crop farmers in a growing number of states may be eligible for financial assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Read More
Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover …
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesStudy: Fall Weed Controls Can Make Significant Impact O…
July 28, 2016
An article published in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science shows that adopting harvest-time and post-harvest weed controls Read More
InsecticidesSyngenta: Beware Of Early Stinkbug Threat To Soybeans
July 28, 2016
With the record warm temperatures this past winter and confirmations from early entomologist reports, Syngenta encourages growers to monitor stinkbug Read More
Peanut field
Crop InputsVerdesian Introduces New Inoculant For Peanuts
July 28, 2016
As planning begins for the next growing season, Verdesian Life Sciences adds Primo Power CL, a new liquid inoculant, to Read More
Soil Young Corn
Crop InputsSmithsonian: 5 Things to Know About New GMO Labeling Bi…
July 27, 2016
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring large food companies to label products containing genetically modified Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
HerbicidesSpecial Issue Of Weed Science Explores Human Aspects Of…
July 27, 2016
Weeds that evolve resistance to herbicides are a serious threat to global agricultural production. In this Special Issue of Weed Science, Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100CHS Businesses In Washington, Idaho Combining For Great…
July 27, 2016
As full-service ag retailers, CHS Primeland and CHS Farmers Co-op collectively serve farmers and other customers in 15 counties in Read More
Storage Tanks at Nachurs
Crop InputsNACHURS Joins Field to Market
July 27, 2016
NACHURS announced today that it has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a leading multi-stakeholder initiative working Read More
Illinois Researchers
FertilizerMeasure Of Age In Soil Nitrogen Could Help Precision Ag…
July 26, 2016
What’s good for crops is not always good for the environment. Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plants, can cause problems Read More
Kochia
Crop InputsNufarm Launches New Herbicide for Resistant Kochia
July 25, 2016
Nufarm introduces Scorch herbicide for U.S. farmers and ranchers combating a broad range of troublesome broadleaf weeds. A unique premix Read More
ManagementNew Rabobank Report Calls for Farmer ROI Focus
July 25, 2016
As U.S. row crop farmers brace themselves for a third year of negative margins, Rabobank believes farmers must lower the Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsBloomberg: Syngenta-Chem China Deal on Track for Regula…
July 25, 2016
Syngenta AG, which has agreed to be taken over by China National Chemical Corp. for $43 billion, said talks with Read More
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and R…
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: EU Approves Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Imports
July 22, 2016
Monsanto Co. announced today that the European Commission has granted import approval for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. This milestone Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsSyngenta Announces Alfalfa Seed Split Off
July 22, 2016
On September 1, 2016, Syngenta will transfer sales and distribution of alfalfa seed to the NEXGROW branded business that is Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDuPont, Dow Shareholders Approve Merger
July 21, 2016
DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company announced that, at their respective special meetings of stockholders held today, stockholders of both Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Oth…
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More