Aug 15, 2016

A trusted program in CYL!

Since its beginnings, 49 years ago, the Co-operative Young Leaders Program (CYL) has been an important part of the Ontario agriculture co-operative sector. It has changed and grown in many ways since agriculture co-operatives launched the program in 1967; but today it is still vital that we continue to sponsor kids to CYL.

Erin Byram
Recently, GROWMARK sponsored a full week of CYL (Senior-A) at Lake St. George Field Centre in Richmond Hill. 

Erin Byram, GROWMARK Ontario Health and Safety specialist and past facilitator for CYL, participated as a panel judge and had the opportunity to listen first-hand to the young presenters give their pitch on an idea for a new co-op business start-up. 

"I recommend this to anyone who wants to get more involved in helping youth better understand agriculture and the value of co-ops in communities, says Erin. It is a very gratifying opportunity."

As founders of the Co-operative Young Leaders Program, the ag co-op sector must keep a strong focus on promoting the program in our rural communities, with our boards of directors and employees. 

Remember to sponsor a young person to CYL!  

CYL Senior A graduates thank GROWMARK and the FS System for their ongoing support and encouragement! 

Jul 7, 2016

2016 4-H Ambassadors tour FS sites in Ontario

The 2016 Ontario 4-H Ambassadors took a day away from their regular routine to learn more about the FS ag co-operative network.

For the past few years, it has become a tradition to take a group photo in front of  a 1942 Ford Stake truck purchased by North Wellington Co-operative as part of its 70th anniversary celebration at the co-opertive's site in Harriston. 

Seen here, from L-R (Back row) 2016 Ontario 4-H Ambassadors: Elaine Jeffs, Sadie-Jane Hickson, Vicki Brisson, Laura DeKlein, Julie French and Logan Emiry. Front row (L-R) Peggy Ryan FS PARTNERS administrative assistant, Matt Stewart 2016 Summer Intern with AGRIS Co-operative, Justine Lennox, marketing and communication assistant with North Wellington Co-op and general manager of North Wellington Co-op, Kelly Boyle.

Another photo opportunity at the UPI Energy bulk fuel plant in Guelph. The group is hosted by UPI Energy's Bob Hodgson, manager operations (L) and Dianne Kennedy, co-ordinator, regulations and compliance (far Right).

4-H Ambassadors take a moment for a selfie with Jackie Littlejohn, UPI Energy's marketing services manager.

Kevin Stumpf, FS PARTNERS Ayr branch manager (L) gives the group a tour of the FS PARTNERS and Great Lakes Grain agronomy and grain facility in Ayr.


Sadie-Jane thanks Pat Gallagher, GROWMARK Ontario logistics manager for a tour of the GROWMARK Distribution Centre in Kitchener.

Don McLean, GROWMARK Ontario agronomy business director talks new crop technology at FS PARTNERS demonstration plot in Ayr.


On the way home, a quick stop at the FAST STOP cardlock site in Alma.

Alma 1902 steam engine makes a nice backdrop for end of day photo.

Jul 6, 2016

FS crop specialist Dale Cowan receives international recognition!

Dale Cowan, of AGRIS Co-operative and Wanstead Farmers Co-operative has been named 2016 International Certified Crop Adviser’s (ICCA) Adviser of the Year.
Dale Cowan, ICCA's 2016 Adviser of the Year

This prestigious award recognizes a certified crop advisor who delivers exceptional customer service, is highly innovative, has shown great leadership in their field, and has contributed substantially to the exchange of ideas and the transfer of agronomic knowledge within the agriculture industry.

Cowan has been the senior agronomist and sales manager with AGRIS Co-op and Wanstead Farmers Co-op for the past six years and has established a 25-year business relationship as an agronomic service provider with the Ontario agriculture co-operative network. In addition to advising large growers, Cowan mentors 14 CCAs. Combined, Cowan reviews recommendations across 275,000 acres comprised of over 300 key accounts. Over more than 35 years, he has advised growers on corn, soybeans, and wheat as well as cucumbers, watermelons, and tomatoes.

“This award was unexpected and I feel very honoured to have received it,” said Cowan. “I think it reflects well on the Ontario CCA program and I must acknowledge the group effort because no one builds a career in isolation,” he added. 

"Dale is a great example of the knowledge, experience, innovation, and ethical conduct that the CCA program has come to be recognized for,” said AGRIS general manager Jim Campbell. “Through his professional and volunteer activities, Dale has been instrumental in the development and promotion of sustainable agronomy and precision farming practices throughout Ontario," he added.

Cowan’s involvement includes participation in the Ontario Agri-Business Association (OABA) as representative, board member and president; chair of the Ontario CCA Board; vice chair of Provincial Nutrient Management Advisory Committee; work with Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Advisory Committee on Funding; and activity on the Crops Input Committee/Agriculture Research and Education Committee. He is also the CCA representative to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs Soil Health Working Group and is a member of the Ontario CCA Exam Committee and a regular contributor to several farm publications.

To learn more about this award, visit: https://www.agronomy.org/awards/view/131



Jun 29, 2016

July 2 is International Co-op Day!

This Saturday marks the International Day of Co-operatives…and a wonderful opportunity to showcase our amazing sector! The day's theme is ‘Co-operatives: The power to act for a sustainable future’, and it is dedicated to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

On July 2, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) will launch the Co-ops for 2030 website, an online platform for co-operatives to learn about the SDGs, explore how co-operatives can help achieve them and make pledges to contribute to the SDGS. Co-operatives will not need to create new initiatives to participate in Co-ops for 2030 – the important sustainable development work you already do can serve as pledges. By uniting co-operatives under one online platform, we create a global record of how co-operatives build a better world.

Jun 21, 2016

Local Kingston area 4-H youth named 2016 GROWMARK Essay Contest winner

Kieran Shannon, 2016 provincial Essay Contest winner
Congratulations to 16 year old Kieran Shannon of Glenburnie, Ontario who has been named the Ontario provincial winner of the 2016 GROWMARK Essay Contest for 4-H members. The theme of this year’s contest was “What can young people to do ensure the sustainability of agriculture?”

In his contest entry, Kieran said: “People need to realize the facts! I believe that it is our job as today’s farming youth to step up and lead the way by having honest and balanced conversations. We have the ability to change the way our generation views modern farming and we can show people how sustainability in agriculture means protecting the land for future productivity. Benefits of technological advancements on the farm far outweighs the perceived risks. We need to change the way people view agriculture in the 21st century.”

Kieran Shannon is a student at La Salle Secondary School in Kingston and a member of the Frontenac 4-H Association.

As the contest winner, Shannon receives a $500 award from GROWMARK and the Frontenac  4-H Association  also receives a $300 award in honour of his accomplishment to help future students.

Two provincial runners-up each receive a $125 award. The runners-up are: Sarah Campbell, Chatham-Kent 4-H Association, student at Blenheim District High School and Mikayla Ringelberg, Hamilton Wentworth 4-H Association, student at Hamilton District Christian High School.

This is the fifth year for the Essay Program in Ontario in partnership with 4-HOntario, but the 23th year for the program in the United States. The contest was designed to help young people develop their writing skills, learn about current issues in agriculture, and understand the unique role of co-operatives.



Jun 3, 2016

GROWMARK recognizes an AGRIS Co-operative crop specialist as one of five top crop specialists for advocating sustainable best management farming practices

Chris Snip of AGRIS Co-operative Ltd. in Cottam, Ontario is one of five crop specialists who have excelled in engaging farmers in sustainable best management practices, and a recipient of the GROWMARK Endure 4R Advocate Award. The crop specialists are recognized for their work with farmers in using the 4R (right source, right rate, right time, right place) approach to nutrient stewardship, assisting growers with fertilizer management, implementing a nitrogen monitoring program like N-WATCH, and more.

Chris Snip is a Certified Crop Advisor and has worked at AGRIS, based in south western Ontario, for 16 years. He is also an active member of Delta Waterfowl, The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and a board member of the local Soils and Crop Association.

“I started really showing appreciation for the 4R approach after I witnessed a large algae bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie in the fall of 2011,” said Snip. “I live on a tributary of Lake Erie. Across the road from the lake, my family and I spend a lot of time in and on the water and consuming fish from the lake. I hated to see the lake that way. I felt I could play an important role in reducing nutrient loss from agricultural lands in my trade area. I work with growers individually to help them come up with ways that can reduce nutrient losses on their farm operation that work with their cropping practices and equipment capabilities while maximizing nutrient utilization and profitability,” he added.

Four other FS crop specialists achieving the Endure 4R Advocate Award are: Logan Haake (Legacy Farmers Cooperative, Ohio), Rick Klevze (GROWMARK FS, New Jersey) Malcolm Stambaugh (Ag View FS, Illinois) and Jason Wesslund (Heritage FS, Illinois).

The five crop specialists were nominated by their member companies. A selection committee comprised of individuals from the agriculture industry outside of the GROWMARK System served as judges. Winners will receive recognition for their achievement and an all-expense-paid trip with their spouse to attend the 2016 GROWMARK Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium. This is the first year for the Endure 4R Advocate award and is part of the GROWMARK System sustainability initiative Endure.

Jun 1, 2016

Sometimes just a simple invite can go a long way!


When Peter Kelly, Wanstead Farmers Co-operative general manager reached out to his local MP as a way to get acquainted with his new surroundings, he didn’t realize how this small friendly gesture would generate some unexpected added publicity for his co-op.

Not only did Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu pay Wanstead Farmers Co-operative a visit to learn more about the long-standing business, meet the staff and get a tour of the new facility in Wyoming, but she also posted the group photo on the front cover of her federal riding’s newsletter.

“We were flattered to see our picture on the Federal Express,” says Kelly. “Getting this extra publicity was a nice surprise and greatly appreciated.”

 

Mar 30, 2016

Great Lakes Grain announces Don Kabbes as its new general manager

Don Kabbes
Great Lakes Grain is pleased to announce that Don Kabbes has accepted the position of general manager, effective April 4, 2016.

Kabbes has demonstrated exceptional leadership ability during his more than 32 years working in the Ontario Co-operative System, holding increasingly progressive positions and most recently as the market development manager for Great Lakes Grain since 2010.

Kabbes has had a passion for agriculture his entire life. He received his diploma in agricultural business management from Centralia College of Agricultural Technology. He has served on numerous agricultural and community boards and committees, such as the Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Petrolia Minor Hockey Association. He also operates a small cash crop farm in west Lambton County.

Kabbes succeeds Alex Elliott who has announced his plans for retirement with Great Lakes Grain in December this year. Elliott has served the agricultural co-operative system for more than ten years and has been instrumental in providing great leadership towards the advancement of Great Lakes Grain during his tenure.

Please join us in congratulating Don on his new position.


                                                                                                             

Mar 24, 2016

FS Bringing You What's Next at GFO March Classic for the third time!

I could say that “the third time’s a charm” for the FS System exhibit at GrainFarmers of Ontario March Classic Trade Show and Conference, but once again, this event proved to be as positive and fulfilling an experience as years one and two!

In keeping with the “FS Bringing You What’s Next” theme, new FS Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) and the latest FS customized agronomic analysis program called MiField were introduced to booth visitors.

Guests also took the opportunity to investigate current grain markets by viewing the on-line feed provided by Great Lakes Grain. 

Much appreciation and thanks goes out to the many enthusiastic volunteers who came out yesterday to share their agronomy, energy and grain marketing expertise.

The GFO Conference in London seems to grow each year with more than 65 exhibitors and over 700 guests walking through the London Convention Centre to meet up with fellow producers and industry folks.
Congratulations to the Ontario FS Companies. You were proudly represented! 
FS booth set up bright and early Tuesday morning--ready for visitors!  Seen here (L-R)  Justine Lennox-North Wellington  Co-operative Services, Juli Paladino-FS PARTNERS, Michelle Peters-UPI Energy LP,  Janice Johnson-GROWMARK, Inc., Terry Stevenson-AGRIS Co-operative Wanstead Farmers Co-operative 
and  Mike Dotterman,-AGRIS Co-operative.


Jim Irvine of Great Lakes Grain is ready to talk grain markets!



Nicole Weber of FS PARTNERS and Bill Brown, GROWMARK 
discuss new FS MiField  and precision ag programs.


Kent Wolfe, AGRIS Co-operative and Petra Hathaway, 
Great Lakes Grain check out GLG mobile site.


A great day by all! Hope to see everyone out again next year!

Mar 2, 2016

Launching a second decade of the Ontario 4-H Ambassador Program

Big milestones are in play for 4-H Ontario. Last year marked 100 years for 4-H provincially and ten years for the 4-H Ambassador program of which GROWMARK and UPI Energy have jointly sponsored since its inception.

From a sponsor's perspective, it is wonderful to see the record-breaking number of applicants we received this year. In 11 years, the program has seen good growth and launched more than 50 young people into strong leadership roles within their local communities and province wide.

We are proud to introduce our new 2016 Ontario 4-H Ambassadors. Seen below from (L-R) Vicki Brisson of Prescott and Russell County; Sadie-Jane Hickson, Kawartha-Lakes Haliburton region; Laura DeKlein, Middlesex County; Julie French, Peel region; Elaine Jeffs, Northumberland County; Logan Emiry, Sudbury District (Logan is our first Ambassador to come out of Region One).

Photo taken at Ontario 4-H Ambassador orientation and banquet evening Sat. Feb. 27, Arboretum, University of Guelph.


To read more about the Ambassador program, visit: www:4-hontario.ca

Feb 12, 2016

Calling all 4-H Ontario high-school students!

The 2016 GROWMARK Essay contest is now launched! 


The theme for this year’s 4-H Essay Contest is: “What can young people do to ensure the sustainability of agriculture?” The contest is open to all Ontario high school students who are members of 4-H.

One hears the word “sustainability” a lot these days, but what does it really mean in agriculture? And, how can today’s young people be involved in efforts to ensure our industry remains strong well into the future.

You can get started by visiting the GROWMARK or 4-H Ontario website to learn the full details on the program. Fill out the requested title page, write an impressive essay and mail your package to GROWMARK Ontario region office for a chance to become the Ontario provincial winner for 2016.

First place will receive $500 and the winner’s 4-H Association will also receive $300. Two runners-up each win $125.

Essays should be approximately 500 words, typed and double-spaced. The postmarked entry deadline for Ontario 4-H members is May 15. 

The essay contest has been in place for many years, sponsored by the GROWMARK System and FS member co-operatives, in conjunction with US state FFA leaders and 4-H Ontario, to help young people develop their writing skills, learn about current issues affecting agriculture, and understand the unique role of co-operatives. 



Jan 18, 2016

Dale Cowan named 2015 CCA Award of Excellence winner!

Dale Cowan, 2015 CCA
Award of Excellence winner
The Ontario Certified Crop Advisor Association congratulates Dale Cowan on being honoured by his peers with the CCA Award of Excellence at the annual CCA Conference and Annual Meeting in London, Ontario last week.
Dale has been involved in agriculture for over 35 years and is currently employed by AGRIS Co-operative and Wanstead Farmers Co-operative as a senior agronomist and sales manager. Previously, he was the owner/president of Agri-Food Laboratories for 18 years and continued with the company for an additional two years as the manager of the transition team
The CCA Award of Excellence recognizes a certified crop advisor (CCA) who delivers exceptional customer service, is highly innovative, has shown strong leadership and has contributed substantially to the exchange of ideas and the transfer of agronomic knowledge within the agriculture industry.
In his current role, Dale works directly with growers as well as collaborating with 14 other CCAs in his sales team. Combined, Dale reviews recommendations across thousands of acres. The growers contacted as references for this award valued Dale’s strong technological knowledge and his ability to communicate. They noted his innovative spirit and enthusiasm for new technology is what sets him apart.

Dale has been very involved with the CCA program. He was a board director from 2002 to 2010 which included serving as board chair in 2005 and 2006. Dale received his CCA designation in 1997, among the first group in Ontario to be certified.

Congratulations Dale!

Information for this post originated from the CCA (Jan. 15) news release. To read full news release click here.


Jan 11, 2016

Ontario’s Aspiring Leaders graduate with great aspirations!

Most times when a new program is introduced that involves substantial commitment from a large group of people, it takes time, maybe even years to gain momentum. Not true for GROWMARK’s Aspiring Leaders Program that was just recently introduced in 2015. In its first year, GROWMARK put almost 100 FS System employees from Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Ontario through the multi-faceted three-month leadership program that involved several training sessions on GROWMARK, leadership styles, accounting and finance, communications and government relations. 

Participants received daily readings and exercises to stimulate their knowledge base and help them look inward and develop strengths and weaknesses, and were also asked to keep a daily personal journal.

The best way to understand the value of a program is to listen to what participants are saying. These are some of the comments we heard from Ontario FS System employees about their experiences:

 “I felt both needed and wanted by mentor.”

 “I never worked with this group before, and now we are friends!”

“Brand yourself; join groups that matter to you, define what success is for you!”

 “Journaling was something very new to me, but my mentor held me accountable!” 

Last Friday, Ontario GROWMARK System employees that took part in the Aspiring Leaders program came together to present their final group presentations to other aspiring leaders, their mentors and managers from various member companies and GROWMARK Ontario region staff.

Teams of three and four were responsible for picking their topics and preparing for this day. Group topics covered a number of team building and leadership concepts as well as insight into consumer misunderstandings about agriculture and food production. 

Congratulations to the following Ontario Aspiring Leaders graduates!


From (L-R), back row: Carrie Kuhns of GROWMARK and program facilitator, Ontario graduates: Paul May (UPI Energy LP), Chris Albrecht (FS PARTNERS), Robyn Pool (AGRIS Co-operative), Luke Siertsema (Huron Bay Co-operative), Matt Minshall (AGRIS Co-operative), Jackie Rodgers (UPI Energy LP), Cindy Charlebois, (GROWMARK Ontario region), Jeff Wilson (County Farm Centre), Lucas Meyer (FS PARTNERS). Front row: Nicole Weber (FS PARTNERS), Larry Croft (FS PARTNERS), Holly Becker (Huron Bay Co-operative), Claire Mumford (UPI Energy LP), Kyle Beatty (County Farm Centre), Sharon Fleming (FS PARTNERS), Brady Debruyn (AGRIS Co-operative) and Jason Murray (FS PARTNERS).

Dec 17, 2015

CDF makes a difference - A first-hand account from Peru

After hearing many passionate speakers over the years who have traveled abroad to witness for themselves, how the Co-operative Development Foundation (CDF) and the Canadian Co-operative Association have impacted so many lives, I always hoped that some day I could be part of that experience.  

Well, I can now say, I have seen first-hand, the value these organizations bring to so many communities worldwide. The first week of November this year, I was invited by CDF to travel to Peru with a team of seven co-operators from various co-ops and credit unions across Canada as part of a study tour focused on its Peruvian ag co-op partner - Cooperativa Agraria Norandino LTDA.

Norandino Co-operative is located in the city of Piura, and is supported by over 90 farmer associations comprised of more than 7,000 coffee, sugar cane, cocoa and fruit producers who reside in very poor regions in northern Peru.

CDF launched the Sustainable Produce Diversification Project with Norandino in 2010 to help farmers gain access to local and international markets to provide sustainable income for their families and communities.

One of many sugarcane crushing and drying sites in region of
 Montera, Peru - located on the slopes of the Andes Mountains.
In a short time, through the many efforts of CDF volunteers, funding and hands-on expertise, Norandino has achieved good success in meeting its main objective of improving the quality of life for small farmers in the area. Farmers are now able to receive a decent income for their crops through increased production capacity and operational efficiencies such as the addition of several village-level sugarcane crushing and drying stations throughout the region, investments in new large-capacity automated production plants in Piura, and a greater demand for their products through international Fair Trade markets.

During our visit, we engaged with the managers and directors of Norandino Co-operative to share ideas and learn more about our different worlds, but the highlight for me was visiting the rural farmers up high in the hills. After a long and bumpy road trip,
Cocoa seed-nusery managed  and operated by 
women and youth from the local community.
our study group stopped at one of the co-operative’s farmer-owned member-associations. Not only did this group of local cocoa farmers show up to greet us, but their wives and children gathered all around with welcoming faces. We were most impressed with their strong member-engagement practices. Everything we talk about how best to engage our members, this group seems to have mastered. In this 94 farmer-member association, not only do the men have strong roles, but 40 women and 25 youth are equally engaged in the production process gathering, fermenting, drying, splitting, fertilizer production and the cultivation and nurturing of their own seedling nursery.

It is the whole community that comes together for one common goal and everyone’s role is equally important. The pride and self-satisfaction one feels just witnessing and listening to them tell their story is not only inspiring but as we drove away and headed down the rugged mountain terrain, many of us felt humbled and privileged to have had the opportunity to meet the wonderful and hard-working people that provide us with the luxury and decadence of their award-winning cocoa.

As Norandino management will tell you: “We are not selling cocoa beans, we are selling the origin.”

Sabino Guerrero, project co-ordinator with Norandino
Co-operative demonstrates harvesting sugarcane
and gives us a sweet sample to try.
Whether it is coffee, cocoa or panela (which is brown sugar produced from sugarcane), the finished product from Norandino Co-operative is superb. To fully appreciate the Norandino brand that is regarded as a premium product all over the world, you just need to sample it! The Norandino brand is known as an elite product and is exported to end-users in Germany, France, and Canada through Fair Trade agreements. La Siembra Co-operative, located in Ottawa, is Norandino’s largest importer of panela in Canada.

Going forward, as always there is still work to be done and CDF is moving into the next phase of the project, but for now, it is clear that CDF has been instrumental in providing the momentum Norandino Co-op needed. They now have a select group of preferred clients, investors and supporters that want to see Norandino succeed and expand further. Now that I have met the people behind the operation, there is no doubt in my mind they will thrive.
Coffee-bean farmer and member-owner of Norandino Co-op
talks about how his yields are far superior to his neighbours
because of the services he receives from his co-operative.

As an employee of GROWMARK,Inc. (also a farmer-owned co-operative) that is a long-time supporter of the Co-operative Development Foundation, I can now better understand how our corporate and employee donations truly improve the livelihood for these farmers, their families and communities. The Norandino project in Peru is just one shining example of so many success stories worldwide.














Nov 30, 2015

New research shows Ontario's co-operatives bring in $6 billion for the economy



Article image

New research was carried out by the Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op), the information hub and trade association for Ontario’s 1,300 co-operatives. It shows the movement is thriving in the province, with the highest number of co-ops working in housing and childcare services. Read more.......


Nov 13, 2015

Local 4-H Association awards banquet includes GROWMARK Essay contest recognition!

Erin Byram presents Essay Contest recognition plaque
to Emily MacKay at Listowel Agricultrual Hall on Nov. 3.
As part of the Perth area 4-H Recognition night, grade nine student, Emily MacKay was formally recognized as this year's provincial winner of the GROWMARK (high school) Essay Contest.

Erin Byram, GROWMARK’s Ontario health and safety specialist presented Emily with a recognition plaque and $500 in prize money. Erin also asked the Perth County 4-H Association's representative Jennie Nichol to come up on stage to receive a cheque for $300 to help build future programs for their local association.

Erin presents $300 in prize money for local
 association to Jennie Nichol.




Emily wrote her speech about her grandfather’s dedication to his career as a veterinarian. Unfortunately her grandpa couldn’t attend the event, but her proud parents watched on and video recorded the special moment for him to view later.


Oct 8, 2015

Celebrating both agriculture and co-ops in October!

We are very early into the fall harvest season, but the month of October is already brimming with activities to help us celebrate our co-operative heritage and our agricultural roots.

This week is Agriculture Week in Ontario which leads in nicely to Thanksgiving this weekend. During agriculture week, people are encouraged to visit local farmer markets in their communities. 

The agri-food industry is a significant driver of the province's economy, contributing $34 billion annually, including $12.5 billion in exports, and employing more than 780,000 individuals.

Next week is Co-op week in Canada where more than seven million members of co-operatives throughout Canada will hopefully take part in celebrating and educating others on the significant contributions co-ops bring to the economy and communities in which they thrive. Just this fall, new findings were announced through research done by Measuring the Co-operative Difference Research Network that shows co-ops in Canada contribute more than $50 billion to the Canadian economy and support over 600,000 jobs. 

In the  United States, our colleagues are enjoying the full month of October to celebrate co-op history during Co-op month.

Next week, Ontario GROWMARK employees will take part in a number of fundraising events to provide support for the Co-operative Development Foundation. CDF is a registered charity organization that works with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and other partners to undertake co-operative development projects in Canada and around the world.

Employees will have the opportunity to attend a lunch-and-learn session to hear from a CDF volunteer who recently traveled to a developing country to see first-hand the positive impact the Co-operative Development Foundation has made for so many people. 

October is a great time to enjoy the blessings that come with living in this great country, our passion for agriculture and our co-operative heritage. Let's take it all in!





Oct 6, 2015

Pride-of-ownership is what counts for farmers-owners of AGRIS Co-op

The phrase “Proudly farmer-owned” was the clear-cut message delivered at last week’s grand opening of AGRIS Co-operative’s newest fertilizer facility in Cottam, ON.

I attended along with approximately 100 farmers, employees, media journalists and directors, all who came out to support the co-operative’s new initiative.

“This new state-of-the art equipment will improve efficiencies tremendously for our farmer-owners, says Larry Pajot, AGRIS Co-operative president.

“Farming has really changed over the years,” says Pajot. He recalls when he started out, most farmers had a four-row planter or maybe six-row if they were modern, and if they did 30 acres a day they were happy, but now farmers have 12 or even 16-row planters and require a lot of crop nutrients and at record speeds.

“Well, this new system is designed for you guys, says Pajot. And even better yet, this is your equipment, owned by you, our farmer-owners.”

The new facility offers increased blending capability to 200 MT per hour, eight times faster than before and the storage capacity to 4500 MT, nine times the previous capacity. This new investment is the largest element of an overall strategy to increase capacity throughout the co-operative’s full trade territory.
GROWMARK, Inc.CEO Jim Spradlin takes time to talk to
 agricultural journalist Simon Crouch of Blackburn News.

The co-operative’s special guest speaker, chief executive officer of GROWMARK, Inc., Jim Spradlin commended AGRIS Co-operative’s board and management teams on their vision, forward-thinking leadership and dedication to their farmer-owners. “In our view, AGRIS Co-operative truly embodies a system initiative that we launched a couple of years ago that we call, “Bringing You What’s Next.”

Spradlin goes on to say, that this new facility is an investment in the future. “It is all about speed, flexibility and quality, but also very much about good stewardship practices in which the GROWMARK System strongly supports.”

Jim Campbell, the co-operative’s general manager said he is very proud of this accomplishment. “When we invest in new initiatives, we know we are investing our farmer-owners’ money and we are cautious about how we spend it. We want to be awfully sure it is invested in their best interests and this new facility ticks all the boxes,” says Campbell.

Ribbon cutting ceremony at new fertilizer facility at AGRIS Co-operative's Cottam site on Sept. 29. From (L-R) back: AGRIS director David Sherman, AGRIS general manager Jim Campbell. FRONT: AGRIS operations manager Adrian VanDyk, AGRIS director and GROWMARK director Kim Fysh, AGRIS directors Paul Repko and John Nooyen, AGRIS Essex area manager Alex Michinski, AGRIS board president Larry Pajot, GROWMARK chief executive officer Jim Spradlin, AGRIS director Pat Vanheule and AGRIS board vice president Jim Anderson.

Congratulations to the employees and farmer-owners of AGRIS Co-operative!