The new Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, Ky., was launched on Oct. 27, 2014, the Asmark Institute announced. One hundred and twenty people attended the dedication ceremony to commemorate the launch and to honor West. He served as the president of The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), a national organization representing the agricultural nutrient industry.  He retired in 2013 after 34 years of service to TFI and the industry.

"Ford B. West is known throughout the U.S. for his impeccable integrity, tireless work ethic and an inherent ability to quickly dissect complicated issues into a simple plan of action. It is very fitting that we honor him by creating a first-of-its-kind learning center that advances safety and compliance for the ag industry," said Allen Summers, President of the Asmark Institute.

Crop Production Services (CPS) donated the retired facility to the Asmark Institute to help make this national training center possible. The facility will be used as a national training and education center for personnel employed in the agricultural inputs industry, including the training of auditors for the new ResponsibleAg stewardship initiative. The first ResponsibleAg Auditor's Course followed the launch.

In addition to opening the new center, ResponsibleAg announced that auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture. This  week, the inaugural class of 24 candidates for credentialing as ResponsibleAg auditors is receiving instruction and being tested using a rigorous curriculum based on the federal regulatory requirements that apply to U.S. fertilizer retailers. This one-of-a-kind curriculum is a combination of lectures, testing, role-playing scenarios problem-solving sessions and hands-on exercises. It will serve as the cornerstone of ResponsibleAg’s efforts to promote safety for fertilizer storage facilities throughout the nation.

The Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture is a world class training facility managed by the Asmark Institute. The West Center includes a classroom and computer lab and is modeled after an active working farm center handling dry and liquid fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, package and bulk crop protection chemicals, seed and other products one would find at a typical center.

“We greatly appreciate our partnership with our friends at the Asmark Institute,” said J. Billy Pirkle, Chairman of ResponsibleAg. “With the support of the team at Asmark, the new training center will provide students and auditors the same equipment they see in the field. This will better prepare them to conduct thorough onsite assessments and ensure regulatory compliance,” said Pirkle.

Registration is now open for upcoming sessions of ResponsibleAg auditor training. Training takes place in four day sessions, and sessions will begin Nov. 18 and Dec. 2 of this year, with an additional five courses scheduled for 2015. Minimum applicant prerequisites have been established to ensure the experience, knowledge base and objectives of auditor candidates are as uniform as possible, and persons wishing to enroll will be asked to certify they meet an established set of qualifications when registering.

To register or obtain more detailed information on the ResponsibleAg program and the auditor course,  visit www.ResponsibleAg.org. Click on the hyperlink "ResponsibleAg Credentialing Course for Auditors" located in the center/bottom of the web page. Contact the ResponsibleAg help desk at (270) 683-6777 with any questions.