The Agricultural Retailers Association announced the recipients of three key awards at its annual conference and expo last week in New Orleans, La. The awards given were for the ARA Distinguished Service Award and the Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement award. In addition, ARA recognized its 2015 chairman and outgoing chairman.

2015 ARA Chairman Named

Dave Dufault, vice president and general manager of J.R. Simplot Company's Retail Business, was installed as the 2015 Chairman of the Board for ARA on Dec. 4, during the annual conference in New Orleans. He succeeds 2014 Chairman Gary Farrell of Ag Enterprise Supply.

Following the roll-out of ResponsibleAg, a fertilizer storage and handling compliance initiative launched earlier this year, Dufault said he'd like to see it gain broader exposure during his term to solidify the initiative's success.

"One of the biggest items we have to accomplish is taking ResponsibleAg beyond our agribusinesses," Dufault said. "We need to take this opportunity to improve agricultural retailers' image in the general public."

Dufault said he is looking forward to the next year.

"We certainly have battles to fight in D.C.," he added. "Fortunately, we have a good team assembled to take on those challenges."

For more than 20 years, Dufault has worked for Simplot in a variety of roles including crop advisor, unit manager and area manager for the Red River Valley. Dufault has served on the ARA board of directors since 2010.

Dufault grew up on a small grain and soybean farm in northwest Minnesota. He received his Bachelor of Science in Agronomy from North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. In addition to serving on the ARA board, Dufault is also on the board of directors for the Western Plant Health Association and the Tenkoz organization. He and his wife Terri Beth reside in Boise, Idaho.  

"Thank you for your leadership in guiding us through the challenges of the last year," Dufault said as Farrell handed over the gavel. Among other major issues including a new farm bill, rail transportation issues and progress towards multi-year re-authorization of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, Farrell led the organization through the establishment of ResponsibleAg.

Farrell said he leaves the board in capable hands.  

"It's been an honor and pleasure to serve," Farrell said. "We achieved some major successes this year, especially with ResponsibleAg."

In addition, nine new board members were named to fill vacancies left by outgoing 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

Distinguished Service Award

Paul Derig, environmental, health and safety manager for J.R. Simplot, was recognized with the Agricultural Retailers Association Distinguished Service Award during the ARA Conference & Expo last week.

Derig is a current member of the ResponsibleAg Technical Committee and long-time supporter of the association. He was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award for contributing his expertise and assistance in establishing ResponsibleAg, an initiative officially launched earlier this year by ARA and The Fertilizer Institute to encourage safe storage and handling of fertilizers.

"If I'd have known, I would have brought a necktie," a surprised Derig said after being presented the award. "(Establishing ResponsibleAg and serving the association) takes a lot of time, but there were a lot of other people involved. This award goes to them as well."

The ARA Distinguished Service Award honors an individual member of the association who has gone beyond the traditional member and volunteer responsibilities to support the ag retailers industry and the association—making the industry better for all. Selected by the ARA Executive Committee, the designee may come from any of the membership categories in ARA: retail, distributor or manufacturer of equipment, chemicals and fertilizer.

Derig is directly responsible for the regulatory support and oversight of Environmental, Health, Safety and Security regulatory programs for Simplot Company's AgriBusiness Retail operations. During the past 37 years, he has been involved with many aspects of fertilizer handling and security, both through industry experience and as a firefighter and member of the State of Oregon Region X Hazardous Materials Response team. He has also served as an instructor for the State and National Fire Academy, and as a Departmental and Regional Training Officer.

Recent recipients of the Distinguished Service Award include Rod Schroder of WinField; Kim Bohlander of Dow Agrosciences; Dan Weber of Ceres Solutions and Ken Manning of Wilbur-Ellis.

"Paul is an excellent example of a member who has gone above and beyond to ensure the safety and security of retail employees, not just at Simplot, but throughout the industry," said President and Chief Executive Officer Daren Coppock, who presented the award. "We would not have been able to establish ResponsibleAg without his knowledge, experience and enthusiastic support."

Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement Award

Jon Nienas, who for many years presented the Retailer of the Year award as Monsanto's representative to the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), was recognized with the Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement Award.

"I am incredibly humbled," Nienas said. "There are so many great people in this industry. I've had a chance to see ARA grow to where it is today and Jack did a lot to make that possible.

Established in 2001, the award was named after the late Jack Eberspacher who served as ARA President and Chief Executive Officer from 2001 until his death in 2009. The award is ARA's highest individual honor, designed to recognize career-spanning achievements in and contributions to the agricultural retail industry.

Past recipients include Ford B. West, former President of The Fertilizer Institute; Jim Thrift, former Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Corporate Relations for ARA; Bill Griffith, founder of AgriCenter; and Al McQuinn, founder, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ag-Chem Equipment Co.

"Thank you to all of you who have made a career in agriculture," he said in comments to the general session during the ARA Conference & Expo. "It's a tremendous industry and a great place to have a career."

Nienas, who retired last year from Monsanto as strategic accounts lead after 34 years with the company, was honored for his dedicated service as a long-time board member, steadfast leadership and generous support of the organization. 

"Jon exemplifies the characteristics ARA is seeking to recognize with the Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement award," said Daren Coppock, ARA President and CEO. "As a long-time member of the board of directors, executive committee and service as secretary-treasurer, he provided invaluable insight, leadership and support to the organization. His contributions to the agricultural retail sector make him a very deserving recipient of this award."