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
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: Dicamba Update and InfoAg Preview
July 21, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss reports from the field and comments from Monsanto about dicamba drift this season, Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect: Grand Grounds, Posters Parade
July 19, 2017
To celebrate their accomplishments in the area of environmental stewardship, award recipients at the 2017 Environmental Respect week spent much Read More
StewardshipHarden’s Message to ERA Winners: Do Tell Your Good Stor…
July 19, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance the Read More
StewardshipFarming Smarter Hinges on 4R Best Management Practices
July 18, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an Americ…
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
TMX-2050-In-Cab-Display-Launch-Run-Screen
EquipmentGPS Auto Steer: Innovating in a Mature Market
July 17, 2017
In the world of Big IRON, GPS auto steer has closely mirrored the evolutionary path of consumer GPS Navigation systems Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
SERA-meeting
Stewardship4R Event Explores How to Minimize Phosphorus Losses
July 17, 2017
This year the Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) – 17; will be meeting in Oregon, OH, from August 14-17. Read More
Students Soybean Field
StewardshipCCA 4R Study Guide Available
July 17, 2017
In June the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) released the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) 4R Nutrient Management Specialist (4R NMS) Read More
Soil soybean closeup
FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soil Young Corn
StewardshipTop 10 Themes from the 2017 4R Nutrient Stewardship Sum…
July 17, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applicatio…
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
corn-potassium-deficiency-University-of-Minnesota-Extension
Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
ManagementComplexity in Agriculture: The Rise (and Fall?) of Mons…
July 17, 2017
Sometimes it seems as if the ag world is changing so fast that we can barely keep up with it Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: Illegal, Improper Use at Root of Drift Proble…
July 14, 2017
Monsanto isn’t backing down from the position that its tool — the Roundup Ready Xtend dicamba-tolerant system for soybeans and Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application…
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More