CPS-Hillsboro Becomes First ResponsibleAg Certified Facility
Unlike a race where the first finisher takes home a medal or blue ribbon, safety and regulatory compliance doesn’t often get rewarded. But becoming the first certified ResponsibleAg retailer deserves recognition.
“This marks an exciting milestone for ResponsibleAg,” said Alicia Duke, Health and Safety Director with J.R. Simplot Company and Chair of the ResponsibleAg Technical Committee. “Safety is a top priority for retailers, and having an organization like Crop Production Services move so quickly to adopt and implement ResponsibleAg demonstrates the company’s commitment to its employees and the community.”
The Hillsboro, TN, location of CPS was recently awarded the first ResponsibleAg facility certification.
“In our division and at Crop Production Services our top priority is to constantly be looking for ways to improve the safety and security associated with our employees, products and services we offer throughout the country,” said CPS Division Manager Bill Speir. “It is an honor to be the first location in the country to be certified by ResponsibleAg.”
ResponsibleAg, an industry-led fertilizer safety and stewardship initiative, assists retailers and wholesalers achieve and maintain federal regulatory compliance.
“The first ResponsibleAg certification is a significant milestone for all of us who have been involved in creating ResponsibleAg, and CPS Hillsboro should be proud of this achievement,” said Daren Coppock, President and CEO of the Agricultural Retailers Association, which helped develop and launch the program. “The commitment of retailers to responsibility and safety is evident in this success, and in the hundreds of facilities that have signed up to participate and are working toward certifications of their own.”
Facility registration began in December. Since then, more than 1,350 fertilizer facilities have registered. Several assessments have been conducted, but the Hillsboro CPS facility was the first to successfully complete the assessment and resolve any required corrective action. A second CPS location in Ethridge, TN, was also certified. Certification was a joint effort, according to Speir. The Hillsboro location manager, Ryan Walker, and CPS Environmental, Health and Safety Director Mike Whitten collaborated to complete the auditor training, facility registration, assessment and corrective action processes.
“Both of these men take their job very serious and we are lucky to have them,” said Speir, a 33 year veteran with CPS. “Getting the location registered was pretty easy once everyone understood what needed to be completed on the ResponsibleAg website.”
Several resources – including videos, sample assessments and how-tos – designed to help retailers register and complete the assessment are available at www.ResponsibleAg.org.
Whitten participated in an early auditor training course held at the Asmark Institute’s Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture, a retired fertilizer storage and retail facility refitted and specially designed for safety training. The center is located in Owensboro, KY.
The four-day auditor training course includes classroom work, hands-on inspections of equipment, discussion and lectures. Whitten classified the training as “very intensive.”
As a voluntary program, fertilizer retailers, wholesalers and suppliers may participate in ResponsibleAg. Fertilizer storage and handling facilities can register online at www.responsibleag.org. After registering, facilities have up to three years to complete a federal regulatory compliance assessment by a credentialed ResponsibleAg auditor. Like the Hillsboro CPS, upon successful completion of the assessment and any required corrective action, the facility will be listed as “certified” with ResponsibleAg.
“We expect ResponsibleAg Certification to be recognized as an indication of safety and security, not just within the industry, but to the communities where our members operate,” said Chris Jahn, President of The Fertilizer Institute, which partnered with ARA to create ResponsibleAg.
Full participation in the program by all fertilizer retailers is the goal, and Speir said, it’s in the industries best interest.
“Our entire industry should be interested in the safety and security of our communities,” said Speir. “We have a responsibility to do what is right and not endanger anybody, anywhere, any time and if the Responsible Ag initiative can help us do that then why would somebody not want to get involved and do what is right.”