ARA Blog

Wanted: Innovative, tech-savvy, environmentally conscious, community-minded ag retailer with outstanding employees and solid track-record. Must be able to build and maintain customer, industry and community relationships. The successful applicant will be recognized as the ARA Retailer of the Year for 2015.

"Ag retailers make significant contributions to feeding the world and responsible stewardship of our natural resources," said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. "The organizations ARA has recognized with this award are representative of the commitment we share to farmers, the rural economy and the broader agricultural community."

The award, presented by Monsanto and AgProfessional Magazine, recognizes the best in ag retail annually. Retailer of the Year is a symbol of quality and an emblem of prestige. Past winners include NEW Cooperative, Morral Companies, Wheat Growers and the Lyman/Tremont Group.

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If you tried to contact the ARA office or staff by phone or email Wednesday and were unsuccessful, we apologize for the inconvenience. 

Unfortunately, the ARA office experienced technical difficulties. A piece of computer hardware failed, which disabled our email, phones and website for much of Wednesday.

Daren and our information technology contractor acted quickly and diligently to replace the failed hardware, reconfigure our server and get the office back up and running. All systems are now operational. The office will re-open Thursday during normal business hours.
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Leadership at its Best Class of 2015Seven emerging leaders from ag retail outlets across the country converged in Washington, D.C., March 1-4, for the Agricultural Retailers Association's fourth annual Leadership at its Best.

The program, sponsored by Syngenta, provides advocacy and communications training for ag retail management staff. The curiculm is designed to improve communication skills with legislators and regulatory personnel, and to help individuals better understand and interpret government actions.

Upon completion of the program, participants may be called upon by ARA to represent the industry at hearings and visits to Capitol Hill. 

Working with professional speakers, consultants and ARA staff, participants discussed leadership and communications styles, examined ARA's policy priorities, reviewed business etiquette, received tips to improve public speaking and gained insights on government relations during visits with Congressional and Committee staff members.

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By Aaron Deardorff, Syngenta digital farming manager

Digital farming is a combination of digital technology assets—data collection, data storage and management, analytics, and decision modeling—that work together to unlock farming’s potential. Of course, the retail channel is no stranger to digital farming. Some of our key Syngenta retail customers have advanced their original investment in precision agriculture to include analytics, decision modeling and sales-aid tools. A recent study by Purdue University reveals that these types of investments will continue, with a heavy focus on variable-rate seeding recommendations and further automation.

At Syngenta, we believe digital farming empowers solutions designed to simplify the complexities of 21st century farming. We want to help growers make better decisions that will lead to optimal operations and productivity improvements. By building on our current offerings and integrating technologies, we will bring a solution to the industry that will help realize a farm’s potential by placing data insight, information and intelligence at a grower’s fingertips.

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Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Moll’s feature-length documentary, FARMLAND, is now available at Walmart and

The availability of the documentary at retail locations across the country and online, provides another opportunity for viewers to experience the film, which offers a firsthand glimpse inside the world of farming by showcasing the lives of six young farmers and ranchers in their twenties.

FARMLAND premiered in theaters across the country in spring 2014, and now, beginning March 3rd, is available on hard disk for rent and purchase at Netflix, Amazon, select retail outlets and via On Demand platforms.

“Walmart is certainly the premier retail outlet for top-line DVD releases,” said Mark Borde, Freestyle Media. “We were thrilled they selected FARMLAND to be one of their new documentary titles this month.”

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The Agricultural Retailers Association joins many other agricultural organizations supporting National Ag Day, March 18.

Ag Day is a time when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America gather to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture.

As the world population soars, there is even greater demand for the food, fiber and renewable resources produced in the United States. The National Ag Day program believes that every American should:

  • Understand how food, fiber and renewable resource products are produced.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
  • Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food, fiber and renewable resource industries.
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Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) called the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Waters of the United States rule deeply flawed and unworkable.

“It is clear after today’s testimony from the Obama Administration and state and local leaders that we need to ditch the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule,” the statement said. “(EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy) admitted that the proposed rule is inconsistent and ambiguous.”

Shuster, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, released a joint statement with Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, following yesterday’s joint hearing on the agency’s proposal to expand federal regulation of waters under the Clean Water Act and the proposal’s potential impacts on state and local governments.

"McCarthy admitted the rule is flawed by repeatedly committing to fix the proposal when Members of Congress raised serious concerns about how it would impact their constituents, communities, and local industries," the statement continued. "She admitted that the proposed rule is inconsistent and ambiguous. In response to questions, she committed to make changes to ensure that isolated ponds, storm sewer systems, water reuse systems, roadside ditches, rock quarries, and farm activities all will be exempt. McCarthy also pledged to review each of the more than one million comments recently submitted to the proposed rule.

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Sen. Pat RobertsSen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) addressed the ARA Board of Directors and members Wednesday promising to be a champion for farmers, small businesses and rural communities.

Roberts was recently named chair of the Senate Agricultural Committee, a role he held in the House more than 20 years ago.

Roberts said the committee would use all the resources at its disposal to pass legislation that is effective for farmers and ranchers, adding that executive branch rulemaking and regulation is over-reaching.

“I think people feel ruled, not governed,” he said. “When regulators have an agenda that becomes a problem.”

One of the committee’s first priorities will be addressing the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed expanded definition of Waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act. He asked for help from the agricultural industry to put its best foot forward by putting producers out front on the issue in hearings and in the media.

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Fertilizer Safety and Health Partners Alliance signing ceremony Feb. 2, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Agricultural, first responder and safety organizations today signed an alliance with federal agencies to advance fertilizer safety.

The Agricultural Retailers Association, The Fertilizer Institute, International Fire Fighters Association, National Volunteer Fire Council and Ammonia Safety and Training Institute joined the Fertilizer Safety and Health Partners Alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.

“Over the last several months, we’ve partnered with OSHA and EPA on the Ammonium Nitrate Chemical Advisory, and others to get safety messages out to our members,” said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. “But, we discovered that there was no official communication agreement between OSHA and ARA to help ensure workplace safety.”

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Communication Type : Press Release  Issues : FSHP, OSHA Alliance, safety

OWENSBORO, Ky. -- The Asmark Institute announced today the ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Course has received recognition from the Board of Environmental, Health and Safety Auditor Certifications (BEAC).

The course is designed specifically for auditors who intend to perform facility assessments under the ResponsibleAg Certification Program. BEAC’s recognition of the course is based on a comprehensive evaluation of course content, training materials, course environment and instructor qualifications. The ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Course joins other training programs recognized by BEAC such as the American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care, SOCMA’s ChemStewards and The Auditing Roundtable courses.

Brian Miller, CPEA and Compliance Assurance Specialist with Agrium and Dr. Fred Whitford, Coordinator of Purdue University Pesticide Programs, are the lead instructors for the course. Together they bring fifty years of EHS experience backed by more than seventy years of experience in agriculture.

“We couldn’t be more pleased than to be working with instructors of this caliber,” said Billy Pirkle, Chairman of ResponsibleAg. “They are each nationally recognized for their work within, and on behalf of the agricultural industry.”
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With the change of the calendar, we re-focus our priorities for the coming year. We examine our sales goals and re-commit to ensuring our facilities are safe and secure for our employees and the communities we serve.


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WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 11, 2014) -- The Agricultural Retailers Association applauds the Senate and the House for passing H.R. 4007, the “Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Program Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014”.

On October 4, 2013, the authorization for CFATS, expired leaving an absence of regulatory authority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to administer or enforce the program. During this time, the CFATS program had no statutory authority to require security measures at high-risk facilities because of the program's attachment to the appropriations cycle.

ARA was the first trade association to engage the House Homeland Security Committee to draft a bill divorcing the program's funding from the appropriations cycle.

"Due to the government shutdown it is imperative that the CFATS program be able to stand on its own, conduct inspections and provide regulatory certainty," said ARA Public Policy Counsel Michael Kennedy. "This bill accomplish that goal and more."  

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NEW Cooperative was named the Agricultural Retailers Association Retailer of the Year for 2014. The award was presented to NEW Cooperative Director of Operations Frank Huseman on Wednesday during the ARA Annual Conference.

“We’re honored, humbled and excited to be named ARA’s Retailer of the Year,” said Huseman, who accepted the award along with four of NEW Cooperative’s Regional Operations Directors. “It’s an exciting time to be involved in agriculture.”

The award, sponsored by Monsanto, ARA and AgProfessional magazine, honors retailers who represent the best of the industry. Retail outlets nominated for the award are evaluated based on innovative business practices, community and industry leadership, environmental stewardship, reliability, technology utilization, customer service and effective employee development programs. Recent winners have included Morral Companies, Wheat Growers, Lyman/Tremont Group, Central Valley Ag and Willard Agri-Service.

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Nine new directors were named to and nine directors stepped off the Agricultural Retailers Association Board of Directors for 2015. Incoming and outgoing directors were recognized during the ARA Conference & Expo general session on December 3. 

Incoming Directors

  • John Demerly, Dow Agrosciences
  • Jim Fargo, Centennial Ag
  • Brian Harrington, Carolina Eastern Vail Inc.
  • Todd Hudelson, Mid Valley Ag
  • Troy Johnson, Wilbur-Ellis
  • Ian McGregor, The McGregor Company
  • Brooke McMullin, International Raw Materials
  • Gary Vogen, Yara North America
  • Tim Witcher, Greenpoint Ag

Outgoing Directors

  • Johnny Council, Lyman-Tremont Group
  • Wade Castleberry, Home Oil Company
  • Mike Karasiewicz, Wilbur-Ellis
  • Tim Perotti, Carolina Eastern Vail
  • Jim Klein, Centennial Ag
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ARA applauds Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Suzanne Spaulding's call to provide multi-year authorization of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards during this Congress. As a vital private industry stakeholder, ARA has worked closely with DHS to create a program that protects our critical infrastructure from a terrorist attack while allowing the flexibility to supply our growers in feeding the world.

DHS’s current leadership has made great strides in reforming the current CFATS program, and our joint efforts deserve long-term authorization. We urge the Senate to take up CFATS legislation and get it to the President’s desk by the holidays. A multi-year re-authorization will give agricultural retailers the regulatory certainty required to make the nation safer.

Read the full editorial here (The Hill).

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Ohio Agribusiness Association President Chris Henney made a presentation this morning during the agricultural outreach meeting conducted by Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water. 

Henney discussed OABA's proactive work on water quality, dating back to a 2011 algal bloom in Lake Erie. Working with a diverse group of stakeholders in Ohio, a series of actions were put in place including mandatory certification for fertilizer applications of 50 acres or more and a voluntary 4R Retailer Certification program set up by OABA in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and other organizations. 

The program created audit-able criteria based on 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles. More than 50 retail locations have committed to join the program, and OABA expects to announce the first four successful applicants next week. Henney also provided information to EPA on the extent of nutrient stewardship research that is being done by the 4R Research Fund, as well as partnership efforts with NRCS and Certified Crop Advisers in Ohio.

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Farm Foundation 9-2014

Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced proposed regulations to the "Waters of the U.S." to clarify Clean Water Act protection for water resources. The proposal, which is open for public comment through Oct. 20, focuses on streams and wetlands that feed into navigable lakes, rivers and estuaries. How the nation should approach water quality policies was the subject of a Farm Foundation Forum at the National Press Club September 12. ARA President & CEO Daren Coppock attended the forum.

Tracy Mehan, national source water protection coordinator for the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, spoke on behalf of regulators. Mehan is also an adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law, a member of the Environmental Law Institute, and a former assistant administrator for water at the EPA.

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In a press conference Sept. 25, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it approved the first commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the continental United States.

The petition, filed under Section 333 of the 2012 FAA Reauthorization Act, allows six film companies to commercially fly their UAVs on "closed sets" without airworthiness certificates via Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA). A seventh petition was also filed as a part of this request, but is still pending FAA approval. Read more...

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Two of the biggest fertilizer producers in the world are in talks about what could be the next inversion deal to be announced. 

CF Industries, based in Deerfield, Ill., near Chicago, and Yara International of Norway both confirmed on Tuesday that they were in discussions about a deal that would essentially be a merger of equals. Read more (NY Times)... 

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