The Asmark Institute recently invited staff from the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), CropLife America (CLA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) to Kentucky and Tennessee for an educational tour explaining the “Many Hats of an Ag Retailer.” The group learned quickly that these many hats may include safety and regulatory expert, agronomist, consultant, technician, risk management advisor and community leader, to name a few.

The tour included in-depth safety demonstrations, training on numerous regulatory requirements for agribusiness, visits to a variety of ag retail operations, a detailed explanation of the equipment used by many ag retailers and a chance to test drive some of the latest sprayers and fertilizer spreaders on the market.

“Tours like the one organized by Allen Summers and his team at Asmark are extremely valuable. They help to educate us on the day-to-day life of a retailer so we can maximize our effectiveness when representing their interests in Washington,” said Daren Coppock, ARA president and chief executive officer. “We really appreciate the time and effort the Asmark team and the retailers and equipment dealers in the area contributed to make it a very informative week.” 

The week began with a welcome reception for all three organizations followed by a presentation in Asmark’s training center in LaVergne, Tenn. The next two mornings the group met in a classroom setting to review in detail the training and regulatory requirements that each retailer must meet. The group even completed the classroom training for Hazardous Materials training. This is just one aspect of the extensive training that ag retailer employees are required to complete.

These classroom sessions gave everyone on the tour a new appreciation for the training that ag retail employees complete and the numerous regulations that retailers must understand and comply with in order to stay in business.

In the afternoons, the group visited with a variety of retail operations in the area that ranged significantly in size and the range of products and services each offered. The schedule for the week was packed from morning until night, which gave the group the opportunity to visit with family-owned retail businesses, small and large independent retail operations, cooperatives and retail outlets that belong to larger national retail companies. In the evenings, Asmark even arranged for retailers in the area to meet the group for dinner to answer the group’s questions and explain how their unique operations work and illustrate their business philosophies. 

On the last day of the tour, representatives from several equipment distributors in the area gave the group instruction on the technology, mechanics and capabilities of modern application equipment used by retailers. From the GPS and remote sensing capabilities of the equipment to updated spray nozzles that direct application to reduce drift, the group had a close-up look at exactly how today’s application equipment is helping farmers produce crops in a more environmentally friendly manor. After learning about the equipment, the group had a chance to drive the equipment. It was a fun ending to a busy and educational week in the field.

ARA would like to thank the Asmark Institute and the following companies who assisted with the tour: Hancock County Farm Supply, BBT Training, Agri-Gro Farm Center, Mid-South Ag Equipment, Crop Production Services, Helena Chemical, Alliance Equipment, AGRI-CHEM Inc., R.C. Bratcher Welding, Whayne Supply Company, Ohio Valley Ag, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, Needham Ag Technologies, Cecilia Farm Service, Parrish Shop & Sales, Montgomery Farmers Cooperative, GVM and Traylor Fertilizer. We appreciate the time and expertise that each company contributed to this very informative event.