The success of an ag retail business depends primarily on the quality and skills of the employees who work there. The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) has partnered with the Asmark Institute to offer several new services to help agricultural retailers screen and properly train employees.

“The Asmark Institute has a great reputation in the agricultural retail industry for being a leader in regulatory compliance and employee safety and training programs,” said Daren Coppock, ARA president and chief executive officer. “We’re excited to partner with them and offer these new services to our members that should ultimately contribute to the success of their business.”

“Two essential elements critical to the future success of our industry are collaboration and technology,” said Allen Summers, president of the Asmark Institute. “Collaboration, or the sharing of talent, time and resources, will continue to leverage the positive effects of all who share in the goal of protecting life, property and the environment.”

Professional Applicator Training

The Professional Applicator Training course, which is currently performed at more than 36 remote locations across the United States, is now available to ARA member retailers. ARA will help to schedule courses in locations where members need training. This program should also help support advocacy on issues such as drift reduction technology and new chemistry.

Custom Application Vehicle (CAV) Training

A Custom Application Vehicle (CAV) DVD-based training program is currently being developed and expected to be made available in 2014. This training program will be geared to the safe operation of CAVs on the highway, to and from the field. Special emphasis will be placed on the importance of preventative maintenance as well as safety related to preventing injuries and fatalities from booms and augers coming into contact with electrical lines.

Additionally, the video will include information on safely entering, or maneuvering, in and out of fields, and crossing bridges and railroad tracks.

PPE Hazard Assessment

A web-based PPE Hazard Assessment tool is currently being developed and expected to be made available in 2013. OSHA regulations require personal protection equipment (PPE) to ensure employees are adequately protected while on the job. Employers are responsible for assessing the workplace and deciding what PPE is needed. The PPE Hazard Assessment tool will help define, organize and document PPE required by the individual employee, task or category.

The Asmark Institute currently provides this feature to retainer clients, and ARA will be offering the use of the web-based tool to its members in the future. ARA will also work with OSHA to advocate support of the use of this tool for agricultural businesses and farms.

Employee Background Check Services

One of the greatest challenges retailers face today is hiring, training and properly qualifying employees. Performing a full range of background checks on all new hires is rapidly becoming an essential part of the employment process. Industry research has indicated a serious void in availability of easy, efficient and cost-effective methods for a small to medium size business to perform background checks on prospective employees. ARA is working with the Asmark Institute to develop a web-based tool to make a screening process or program available to its members in late 2013.

For more information on these programs and other ARA member services, visit