GROWMARK on Board with ResponsibleAg

responsibleagThe Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) recently announced the selection of individuals to serve on the newly formed ResponsibleAg Board of Directors.

The nine representatives include:
– Alicia Duke, Director, Health and Safety, Simplot
– Justin Gough, Director, Agricultural Products, LSB/El Dorado Chemical Company
– Dave Ito, Manager, Human Resources & Regulatory Affairs, Lyman/Tremont Group
– Pete Mutschler, Environmental and Safety Director, CHS Inc.
– Tim McArdle, Executive Vice President & COO, Brandt Consolidated, Inc.
– Rosemary O’Brien, Vice President, Public Affairs, CF Industries, Inc.
– Billy Pirkle, Sr. Director, Environmental, Health & Safety, Crop Production Services
– Scott Rawlins, Director, Regulatory & Governmental Affairs, Wilbur-Ellis Company
– Rod Wells, Manager, Plant Food Division, GROWMARK, Inc.

Wells says it’s important for GROWMARK to be involved in this non-profit organization designed to work with retailers ensuring best practices are in place providing a safe product to the consumer.

“This is an industry led initiative,” said Rod. “We want to demonstrate that we are doing the right things, that we are operating safety, we’re complying with regulations, that we are accountable. We feel like ResponsibleAg is a very transparent way to show that we are committed, compliant, and safe operators in the communities that we serve.”

You can listen to an interview with Rod here: Interview with Rod Wells, GROWMARK

The board of directors for ResponsibleAg will meet next month to finalize bi-laws, an operating budget, elect officers and begin looking for a business manager to oversee the day to day operations of the new organization.

ResponsibleAg is an independent, not-for-profit organization designed to support fertilizer retailers’ compliance with federal safety and security regulations. Under ResponsibleAg, retail fertilizer dealerships will have access to comprehensive inspections based on federal regulatory requirements. The inspections will be carried out by trained auditors who will have successfully completed an intensive training course based on the objectives of ResponsibleAg.

Open Ag Data Alliance Launched

The Climate Corporation and several agricultural stakeholders today officially launched the Open Ag Data Alliance (OADA), an open standards software project to ensure farmers have full data access, security and privacy.

oada“OADA will work to ensure farmers can move their data seamlessly and securely between their equipment, software and services by speeding the development of technical standards for data formatting and interoperability that will be openly developed, and shared,” said David Friedberg, CEO of The Climate Corporation, who announced the company’s intent to support the formation of the OADA earlier this year.

Aaron Ault, a senior research engineer for the Open Ag Technology Group at Purdue and a farmer himself, will serve as project lead for OADA. “As a farmer, I need the freedom to select the right hardware, software and services for my operation,” said Ault. “The open standards of OADA will give farmers the flexibility and control they need to choose data science products and services that will work on their farms to help manage their data and make more data-driven decisions, enabling the next wave of agricultural production.”

Companies joining with The Climate Corporation in making the announcement included: CNH Industrial – Case IH/New Holland; GROWMARK cooperative; Valley Irrigation; Wilbur-Ellis Company; and WinField.

Listen to the conference call announcement here: Open Ag Data Alliance announcement

GROWMARK and Deere form Data Collaboration

growmarklogoGROWMARK and John Deere are collaborating to make life easier and improve decision-making for producers and agronomists.

The two are collaborating to deliver near real-time field level data to producers and FS Crop Specialists by linking FS Advanced Information Services (FS AIS), a suite of precision agronomy software, with John Deere Wireless Data Transfer, JDLink™ and MyJohnDeere.

John DeereGROWMARK Agronomy Marketing executive director Ron Milby says they are among the first agricultural retailers to leverage the Wireless Data Transfer Application Programming Interface (API) for its precision agronomy decision support software, making data exchange faster and more useful for growers and its FS company staff. “The open platform John Deere provides enables farmers and FS company staff to use the FS AIS software to make decisions in near real time – that’s a win-win,” Milby said.

Ron says GROWMARK chose to work with Deere because they are a leader in the field. “I think they’re going to be a viable leader in the future,” he said. “We were headed to this base, they were headed to this base, and we were able to work with them.

Producers will utilize an efficient and secure interface between FS AIS and MyJohnDeere, taking advantage of both companies’ commitment to supporting better decisions through improved data integration at the field level. This includes the ability to easily transfer work instructions, prescriptions, and product lists to the GreenStar™ 3 2630 display. Yield data, as-applied maps and work records can be transferred back to the FS AIS software.

Find out more in this interview with Ron: Interview with Ron Milby, GROWMARK

New Website for FS System

fsThe FS System of GROWMARK has launched a new website to help better promote the brand that has been in existence for nearly 50 years.

The history of the FS System dates back to the formation of the Illinois Farm Supply Company in the early 1920s and was developed as a consolidated brand for agricultural and energy-related products in 1955.

Krista Wolf, GROWMARK Manager for Brand Strategy & Marketing Communications says the new website – – is part of an overall campaign for the FS Brand. “We’ve used campaigns to promote the FS brand throughout all trade territories of the FS companies,” which includes the Midwest and northeastern United States and in Ontario, Canada.

The new site is easy to navigate and includes links to the various FS companies. “While all of those entities had their own websites, we didn’t have a system presence for the FS brand,” said Krista, who added that it also helps make the FS brand more search engine friendly. There are also links on the site to all of the FS brand segments, including agronomy, seed and energy – and links to all of the FS social media pages.

Find out more in this interview with Krista: Interview with Krista Wolf, GROWMARK

GROWMARK Announces Essay Contest Theme

growmarklogoThe theme for the 2014 GROWMARK Essay Contest is: “Promoting Sustainability and Conservation of Natural Resources.” The contest is open to all high school FFA members in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

This is the 21st year for the program, sponsored by the GROWMARK System and FS member cooperatives, in conjunction with state FFA leaders, to help young people develop their writing skills, learn about current issues affecting agriculture, and understand the unique role of cooperatives. This year, students will focus on three questions: What does sustainability mean? Why should farmers be concerned with conservation and sustainable practices? What role do cooperatives play in this effort?

Essays should be approximately 500 words, typed and double-spaced. The postmarked entry deadline for Iowa FFA members is February 14. The postmarked entry deadline for Illinois and Wisconsin FFA members is March 14. Additional program details have been sent to agriculture teachers and are online at (click on Our Commitments/Youth & Young Farmers/Essay Contest).

Each state’s winner earns a $500 award and the winner’s FFA chapter receives a $300 award. Four runners-up per state each win $125 awards.

Lincoln Land FS & Two Rivers FS Combine

13910prairieland_275The shareholders of Lincoln Land FS, Inc., headquartered in Jacksonville, Ill., and Two Rivers FS, Inc., headquartered in Rushville, Ill., have approved the merger of their two companies effective December 1, 2013. The new company – Prairieland FS, Inc. — will be headquartered in Jacksonville. Keith Hufendick, formerly manager of Two Rivers FS is named chief executive officer; Matt Busby, formerly manager of Lincoln Land FS is named chief operating officer.

Joe Pickrell, Buffalo Ill, was named President of the newly-formed company; Chet Esther, Frederick Ill, is Vice President. The combined entities recorded $300 million in sales for the most recent fiscal year ended July 31, 2013.

GROWMARK Celebrates National Co-op Month

Growmark_logoOur friends at GROWMARK are joining cooperatives throughout the country in celebrating the contributions co-ops make to the social and economic development of rural America during National Co-op Month in October.

CoopMonth20131This year’s theme is “Collaborate, Communicate, Cooperate,” reflecting the benefits that arise from collaboration – the sharing of ideas, resources and capital which helps individuals accomplish more together than they would on their own.

Nearly 3,000 farmer cooperatives, like GROWMARK, FS, and grain member cooperatives, account for as many as 300,000 jobs worldwide and a total payroll of more than $8 billion.

Cooperatives operate under a set of guidelines known as the cooperative principles. Doing business with the values of voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, members’ economic participation, autonomy and independence, education, training, and information, cooperation among cooperatives, and concern for community sets cooperatives apart and inspires loyalty and commitment from their member owners.

The more than 29,000 cooperatives across America generate 2 million jobs and $652 billion in sales with assets of $3 trillion. The GROWMARK System itself employs more than 7,000 people serving 250,000 customers.

New Shuttle Loading Facility Up and Running

A new 110-car shuttle loading facility on the Norfolk Southern railroad near Kankakee, Illinois is up and running just in time for the fall harvest.

EGM logoThe state-of-the-art facility is the result of a partnership between GROWMARK and Heritage FS Eastern Grain Marketing (EGM) that provides additional value from GROWMARK’s investment in Central States Enterprises, a partner firm with significant rail capacity and destination markets.

EGM general manager and Heritage FS CEO Dana Robinson says they are receiving grain at the new shuttle loader from this year’s harvest. “The shuttle loader is a circular track (which is) well over a mile long, about a mile and a half,” said Robinson. “It is capable of handling 110 unit cars at a time, plus four engines.”

Robinson says the new facility is highly efficient. “Each car will be filled from the train loading site and the inspection and the weighing will be going on at the same time as the filling operation,” he said. “The name of the game is speed and that’s what this facility was set up for – both in-bound and out-bound grain – because we get premiums for fast turn around on the unit train.”

The facility is well-positioned to market grain from northeastern Illinois into the Southern markets on both the NS (Norfolk Southern) and the BN (Burlington Northern) railroads. “The BN gives us access to the cattle market in the southwest, Texas area, and the NS gives us excellent coverage for the poultry market in the southeast and the ethanol plants in Indiana and Ohio,” said Robinson.

Robinson provides more information about the new facility in this interview: Interview with Dana Robinson, EGM and Heritage FS

An On The Farm Full Service Provider

fps-13-673-editedGROWMARK, along with FS had a strong presence at the recent Farm Progress Show in Decatur, IL. No matter where you went it was hard to escape the view of an FS flag waving high in the sky. Not only were they again sponsors of fuel used throughout the grounds, but they also gave a hands-on view of all the companies product divisions.

On the coolest day of the Farm Progress Show I visited the FS booth and spoke with Jenny Haycraft, who works in marketing and communications for the company. She shared what attendees were able to take in during the event and how FS is a full line service provider on the farm. This includes needs in energy, lubricants, propane, agronomy, seed and in precision farming.


“Throughout the exhibit we have designated areas for primary product divisions. We’ve got agronomy, seed, grain systems and energy. There are interactive games for attendees to play and learn a little bit about our products and services we offer in each area. And then once they play the game we can interact with them as much as possible and see if they are current customers or potential prospects.”

Listen to my interview with Jenny here: Interview with Jenny Haycraft

Check out photos from the event here: 2013 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 Farm Progress show is sponsored by Bayer CropScience, Growmark and New Holland

Fueling the Farm Progress Show

fps-13-685-editedYou can only imagine the fuel consumption during the Farm Progress Show. GROWMARK and FS have sponsored the fuel for the largest outdoor farm show for the last 30 years and expect to go through about 2,500 gallons this year. That amount is down from previous years because the field demonstrations had to be cancelled.

Gerald Doty retired from the cooperative seven years ago and was asked to come back and run the fueling station. He eagerly agreed to do a it for three years, but has been here ever since. Gerald said it was a great opportunity for him to stay in-touch with the industry.

“GROWMARK and FS have sponsored fuel for the Farm Progress Show for over 30 years. Typically they would get 50 gallons of free fuel in exchange for us putting a fueled by FS sticker on their equipment, but this year because there wasn’t any field demonstrations we have cut that back to 25 gallons. Here we do this in cooperation with Evergreen FS. Evergreen FS takes care of all the fuel needs inside the fences and we take care of the equipment they need for demonstrations and golf carts.”

Listen to my interview with Gerald here: Interview with Gerald Doty

Check out photos from the event here:2013 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 Farm Progress show is sponsored by Bayer CropScience, Growmark and New Holland

GROWMARK Makes Major Donation for Ag Literacy

fps-13-166-editedAt the 2013 Farm Progress Show on Tuesday, GROWMARK announced a major donation of $70,000 to the Illinois Ag in the Classroom programs.

The funding will go to support IAA Foundation’s grassroot efforts to aid Agriculture Literacy Coalitions across the state of Illinois. These programs reach over 500,000 students in both rural and urban areas.

GROWMARK is a regional cooperative providing agriculture-related products and services, as well as grain marketing in more than 40 states and Ontario, Canada. GROWMARK owns the FS trademark, which is used by affiliated member cooperatives. More information is available at

Here you can listen to the complete press conference announcing the donation. Growmark Press Conference

2013 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 Farm Progress show is sponsored by Growmark, Ag Leader and John Deere

Ag Fanatics Update

agfanatics-2The AgriVisor AgFanatics podcast has logged 40 episodes since its debut in December 2012, and quite a few since we last talked to them in March, so we decided it was time to check in for an update on how these two wild and crazy ag guys are doing.

“It’s going great, we’re continuing to gain listeners and we’re continuing to talk,” says one-half of the AgFanatics duo, Cory Winstead, account manager with AgriVisor. They did decide to cut back from two episodes a week to one to avoid having some of the same conversations too often, but he and partner Nick Klump are still having fun with it.

“We’ve gotten some of our best feedback when we’ve spent the first five minutes talking about baseball and our lives and our kids,” Cory said. They have spent a lot of time this year focusing on the weather market for grain, the farm bill and other things that interest farmers, such as crop insurance.

The AgFanatics will be podcasting live from the Farm Progress show this year in Decatur, so be sure to stop by and meet them in person at the GROWMARK tent. You can find the AgFanatics podcast page from the link on the AgriVisor homepage.

Get an update on the AgFanatics in this interview with Cory. Interview with AgFanatic Cory Winstead

AgriVisor Helps Market Grain to Maximize Profitability

Precision farming is all about maximizing profitability for farmers so that should carry over to the marketing of the crop as well.

Grain marketing with precision means diversification and minimizing risk to maximize profitability, and AgriVisor helps farmers do just that. Account manager Cory Winstead says there are several ways they work with farmers. “We work directly with brokerage services and then since 1973 AgriVisor has been putting out general advice with recommendations,” he said. They also work with elevators, offering different products and services that farmers can utilize.

Cory says the grain markets continue to be volatile. “Last year we had the drought which really created volatility in the market,” he said. “This year we still had weather issues like the wet spring … a weather market always creates a lot of volatility.”

The biggest rule for marketing grain is don’t put all your eggs in one basket. “Have a diversified plan,” said Cory. “Know your cost of production so you can make an educated sale at a profitable level.”

Check out the different products and services offered by AgriVisor on and listen to my interview with Cory to find out more: Interview with Cory Winstead, AgriVisor


Kilgus Dairy in Fairbury, Illinois was the venue for the nutrient management portion of CTIC’s 2013 Conservation in Action Tour last week. This part of the tour was sponsored by GROWMARK, Inc., which is a strong promoter of the 4Rs – using the right nutrient source at the right time and right rate and in the right place.

gmk-ctic-howardNutrient management in general is something for which Dr. Howard Brown of GROWMARK has a passion, as we know having interviewed him many times for this site. Howard has been on loan from GROWMARK lately to work as interim nutrient utilization director for the Illinois Council of Best Management Practices and when he returns to the coop, he says his new title will be Director of Nutrient Management and Environmental Stewardship.

Dr. Brown introduced the nutrient management portion of the conservation tour by talking about something very dear to his heart – MOM. “MOM is very important to all of us,” he said. “What’s MOM? Minimize environmental impact by Optimizing harvest yield and Maximizing impact utilization.”

“It’s time for agriculture to step up to the plate and we are doing that,” he continued. “Let’s not give up on agriculture.”

He also talked about the work being done by the Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC). “Probably a little over $2 million directed toward applied research in Illinois and that’s not governmental dollars, it’s farmer dollars to promote applied research,” said Brown.

Listen to his comments here: GROWMARK's Howard Brown comments

2013 Conservation in Action Tour Photo Album

GROWMARK Shows Good Stewardship on CTIC

ctic-13-dan-maggartThe Conservation Technology Information Center tour just completed with a theme of “Community 4 Conservation” this year. Dan Maggart with GROWMARK (pictured to the right, talking to bus load on the tour about what GROWMARK offers in way of agronomic services) explained why his company sees itself as such a good fit as a sponsor for the tour and its theme.

“GROWMARK has a retail arm, where we go directly to the farm gate and make nutrient recommendations to growers, so we’re privileged to be able to use all sorts of tools as far as nutrients, fertilizers, so we just want to maintain that privilege that we’ve had for years and be good stewards of the land, but also the water bodies and the folks downstream,” Dan said.

He said the structure of the CTIC tour in Livingston County, Ill., is a good template that GROWMARK can apply in conservation practices across its core area across the Midwest, but also to their customers that reach to the East Coast and into Canada, as well as nationwide in the U.S. Dan added they make sure their sales force that come to those farms and make recommendations for best business and conservation practices are thoroughly trained to make the best recommendations possible.

“This group has historically done a tremendous job doing that. In fact, there’s 20 years of what we would call on-site training, we have special schools for young crop specialists, and regular updates throughout the year to re-educate and get that message across to our distribution and our retail outlets,” Dan said.

You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Dan here: Interview with Dan Maggart, GROWMARK

2013 Conservation in Action Tour Photo Album