Dec 1, 2017

Chatham-Kent 4H Association banquet includes recognition of GROWMARK Ontario Essay Contest winner

As part of the Chatham-Kent 4-H banquet and awards night on Nov. 16, grade 12 student, Ryan McKerrall was formally recognized as this year's provincial winner of the GROWMARK (high school) Essay Contest.

Matt Minshall, AGRIS Co-operative customer service manager presented Ryan with a recognition plaque and $500 in prize money on behalf of GROWMARK and the FS Co-operatives. GROWMARK also provided the local 4-H Association with a cheque for $300 to help build future programs for their local association.

Grade 12 student and 4H member Ryan McKerrall (L) recognized as 
GROWMARK provincial essay contest winner by Matt Minshall,-AGRIS Co-op. 
The banquet took place on Nov. 16 at Ridgetown United Church. 



Nov 1, 2017

Co-op week and Co-op month celebrations raise awareness and funds for two great charities!

Co-op week prizes to be won!
As October comes to an end, it is a good time to take a moment and reflect on our efforts in support of co-operatives.

This year saw a greater element of enthusiasm and participation during Co-op week for GROWMARK employees in Ontario with the recent merge of FS PARTNERS, GROWMARK Ontario region and UPI Energy FS staff all working together under one roof.

Mary Walton, cuts Co-op Week
cake for everyone.
Employees Andrea Fernandes, Christine Morrison, and Mary Walton co-ordinated several entertaining activities including a “get to know each other” fun-fact quiz for each participating employee, daily co-op trivia along with a large raffle draw that raised more than $1800 for the Canadian Co-operative Development Foundation. During the week, Claude Gauthier, gave a breakfast presentation on the history and evolution of GROWMARK, and Janice Johnson provided a lunch session on Co-ops 101. 

Jeff Brown shows off part of his raffle
prize, complete with a pair of FS socks!
Andrea Fernandes leads successful
fund-raiser raffle.
Simultaneously, during Co-op month in the United States, GROWMARK employees successfully raised more than $1100 for their local United Way organization through activities such as jean-days, homemade biscuits and gravy sales for breakfast, snack cart sales, and a raffle with prizes donated by local businesses and GROWMARK divisions. 

Congratulations to all GROWMARK teams!

Oct 30, 2017

Building begins today for FS PARTNERS’ new fertilizer facility in Ayr

Ground-breaking celebrations took place today for area farmers as construction began for a new state-of-the-art fertilizer facility at FSPARTNERS’ agronomy site in Ayr.

The 15,000-tonne facility will have nine bins to give flexibility for retail blending needs. It will also have a blending system capable of mixing up to 2,000 tonnes of crop nutrient products per day, more than doubling the old capacity of 800 tonnes per day. The facility will be capable of receiving products by rail and truck. 

 “We see this as an excellent investment for the future and confirms our true commitment to provide greater efficiencies for our farmer-owners, our customers and for retailers in the Ontario marketplace,” says Frank Barron, FS PARTNERS division manager. 

Construction is expected to be completed in about a year’s time and the new plant will be a shared asset between GROWMARK, Inc. and its retail division FS PARTNERS. GROWMARK will use it to distribute to area retailers and FS PARTNERS will utilize it to serve its farmer-customers.

Today marks the first day of construction at FS PARTNERS' Ayr facility. Ceremonial ground-breaking photo seen here with (L-R) Aron Van Pelt, president Van Pelt Construction; Claude Gauthier, GROWMARK executive director, Ontario operations; Jeff House, FS PARTNERS operations and facilities manager, Bert Perriman, FS PARTNERS board president, Frank Barron, FS PARTNERS division manager, Kevin Stumpf, FS PARTNERS branch manager, Ayr.

Sep 8, 2017

Visit FS at Canada's Outdoor Farm Show

Come visit us on 4th lane to learn how the FS Co-operative System can provide the The Whole Farm Plan from seed to harvest! 

  • Learn more about Western Bean Cutworm and take part in our interactive crop scouting excercise.
  • Meet the many high school students who will be visiting our site as they take part in a scavenger hunt organized by AgScape.
  • Pick up the the latest results from the Great Lakes Grain Crop Tour. 
  • Learn about the many environmentally friendly energy products and services FS provides.
  • Play a round of 4R Bean Bag Toss and win a prize!   
We look forward to seeing you there!

Sep 7, 2017

Executing Excellence in youth leadership

Shannon Desjardins of Milford, Ontario recently attended the 2017 GROWMARK Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium in Chicago as this year’s Ontario youth speaker. She was joined on stage with three more young leader speakers, representing FFA (Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin). Shannon represented 4-H Ontario and delivered an excellent speech on the topic of leadership. 


Shannon was one of three young people from Ontario chosen to take part in the travel opportunity sponsored by GROWMARK. Also travelling to Chicago was 4-H Ontario Ambassador Nicole French of Peel region, and the president of Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario Matt Smith from Ancaster.

Shannon Desjardins, 
Ontario youth speaker
Shannon is a graduate of the university of Guelph with an Associate Diploma in Agriculture and is fulfilling her dream of working directly with farmers. Shannon works with County Farm Centre in Prince Edward County as a crop specialist and sales agronomist, and also farms with her husband on 152 acres raising beef cattle and growing market vegetables. 
FFA young leaders from Iowa, Illinois 
and Wisconsin along with Ontario 
representative each deliver a speech 
on excellence in leadership.

In her spare time, Shannon volunteers with many local community fairs and other associations. She is an active member of Junior Farmers Association of Ontario and this year was selected as one of six Ontario 4-H Ambassadors. 

Each year GROWMARK provides travel opportunities to youth who have shown dedication to leadership development. They travel to Chicago to learn more about GROWMARK and network with business people and other young leaders. As part of their experience, they took part in a number of activities, including the annual meeting’s grand opening ceremonies and were able to take time to tour some of Chicago's many unique attractions. 


Congratulations to all these young leaders!


Nicole French (4-H Ambassador) carries the Ontario flag

Shannon Desjardins-4-H Ambassador and youth speaker represents JFAO 

Matt Smith carries the Canadian flag to the stage

Nicole, Shannon and Matt tour the Conrad Suite at the Hilton-Chicago


Shannon, Matt and Nicole Hilton-Chicago Grand Ballroom
To view more photos of the GROWMARK Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium, click here.

Sep 5, 2017

Two Ontario FS Co-ops receive top Performance Improvement Award!











At the recent GROWMARK Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium, five FS member co-operatives were recognized by GROWMARK for business performance improvement. 

GROWMARK measures performance improvement based on return on invested capital. Over a five-year time frame, each co-operative's return on invested capital improvement is measured in comparison to other co-operatives in the GROWMARK System.

The 2017 Top Improvement Award winners (over a five-year period) are:

·       First – GRAINCO FS, Ottawa, Illinois – Richard Brummel is the president and Mike Builta is the manager.    
·       Second – North WellingtonCo-operative, Harriston, Ontario – Gord South is the president and Kelly Boyle is the manager.
·       Third – Conserv FS, Woodstock, Illinois – John Henning is the president and Dave Mottet is the manager.
·       Fourth – Christian CountyFarmers Supply Company, Taylorville, Illinois – Rob Woods is the President and Mark Bauman is the manager.
·       Fifth – Durham Farmers’ County Co-operative, Orono, Ontario. Charles Harris is the President and Kevin Rogers was the manager at the time.


Congratulations to North Wellington Co-operative for achieving second place in this category and to Durham Farmers County Co-operative for receiving fifth place!








To read the full news release click here.   

Aug 10, 2017

GROWMARK recognizes Nicole Weber as one of five winners of Endure 4R Advocate award.

Implementing nitrogen management as a system. Encouraging variable rate technology for fertilizer applications. Utilizing nitrogen stabilizers. These are some of the ongoing practices used by this year’s Endure 4R Advocate award winners.

Ontario winner, Nicole Weber is the precision Ag manager with FS PARTNERS based out of Kitchener. She works with their six main agronomy hubs across southern and central Ontario. Weber holds her Certified Crop Adviser and 4R Nutrient Management Specialist designations in Ontario.

“Not only are we utilizing the 4Rs to make nutrient recommendations based off of scientific principles and best management practices,” says Weber. “There’s also an environmental and economic benefit by minimizing losses and maximizing crop nutrient uptake.”

This is the second year for the GROWMARK Endure 4R Advocate Award. It’s designed to encourage and promote 4R practices. The 4R approach to nutrient stewardship involves using the right source, place, time, and rate of fertilizer.


“Sustainability is paramount to our System because it is the right thing to do for the environment and farmer profitability," says Lance Ruppert, GROWMARK director, agronomy marketing.

Agriculture industry professionals outside the GROWMARK System served as judges. The winners earn recognition at GROWMARK's Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium at the end of this month. 

To view more about Nicole and her commitment to 4R stewardship, click here


Jul 24, 2017

GROWMARK hosts Chinese ag professionals.

A delegation of Chinese senior agricultural policy and program directors organized by the Heilongjiang Provincial Government, P. R. of China came to the GROWMARK Ontario region office today to learn more about GROWMARK and co-operatives. The 20-member delegation was led by Zhiguang Xing, deputy director of the Agricultural Affairs Committee of Heilongjiang Province.

The purpose of the group’s visit to Canada was to learn more and establish international exchange about the agri-food industry particularly with regards to advanced food processing, value-added processing, food quality and food safety, as well as agricultural market and development in the modern age including farmer co-operatives, sustainability issues and innovation.

Claude Gauthier, GROWMARK executive director-Ontario operations and Don McLean, GROWMARK Ontario agronomy business director did a presentation on the GROWMARK System and co-operative business model with key examples of innovative practices and trends in agronomy, energy and grain marketing. 
Claude Gauthier gives broad overview
of the GROWMARK Co-operative System.

Don McLean provides insight into FS Agronomy
including 4Rs, MiField and FS Stewardship
The two hour visit was topped off by a gracious exchange of gifts and a group photo opportunity.  

The group’s  organization, Sino-CanadaTechnology Exchange Centre, is based in Toronto with an office in Beijing. The province of Heilongjiang is the located in the northeast of China with over 210 million hectares of farmland, approximately one ninth of the total farmland in the country.




Jul 11, 2017

Chatham area youth wins provincial essay contest!

Ryan McKerrall of Chatham has been named the Ontario provincial winner of the 2017 GROWMARK essay contest for 4-H members. The theme of this year’s contest was What value do co-operatives provide to today’s farmers?

In his contest entry, McKerrall said: “The members of a co-op share a mutual interest and have a common need. A co-op incorporates the best interest of its members and utilizes the democratic process to do so. Co-ops achieve their mission to support the needs of their members and everyone shares in the profits.”

Ryan McKerrall is a student at Chatham-Kent Secondary School and a member of the Chatham-Kent 4-H Association.

As the contest winner, McKerrall receives a $500 award from GROWMARK and the Chatham-Kent 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: Laura Scott - Middlesex 4-H Association, student at Medway High School in Arva and Mikayla Ringelberg, Hamilton Wentworth 4-H Association, student at Hamilton District Christian High School in Ancaster.

To read Ryan's full essay or learn more about this contest,  click here 

Jun 15, 2017

UPI Energy gives record-breaking charitable donations to community youth programs!

UPI Energy’s Invitational Charity Golf Tournament was held on June 5, at Rebel Creek Golf Club in Petersburg. This year, with the generous support from sponsors, associates and employees, a record setting $42,000 was raised at this year's charity golf tournament . 

(L) Claude Gauthier GROWMARK executive director Ontario operations,  
receives donation on behalf of the Bernie Daly Memorial fund from
Rob McIntosh UPI Energy president and CEO. 
Sunrise Therapeutic Riding and Learning Centre received $35,000 and $7,000 was donated to the Bernie Daly Memorial Fund which provides financial assistance to assist in the ability for youth to participate in CYL (Co-operative Young Leaders Program run by the Ontario Co-operative Association).


Established in 2009, in honour of the late Bernie Daly, GROWMARK and the Ontario FS agriculture co-operatives created the Bernie Daly Memorial FundThe main objective of the fund is to provide a long-term pool of resources that will help support youth who cannot participate in CYL due to financial restraints or lack of sponsorship. Daly’s main concern was to ensure that all youth in the co-operative sector had a chance to attend CYL even if financial restrictions became a barrier for participation. 

Rob McIntosh, UPI Energy president and CEO thanked everyone for their generosity in supporting both of these great causes. "Your generosity has gone a long way and you should feel proud in knowing that your donations have significantly changed the lives of many youth in positive ways."




May 26, 2017

Ontario co-operatives feeling optimistic after successful MPP reception at Queen’s Park

Article provided by Audrey Aczel, Ontario Co-operative Association communications and events manager.

MPP Daiene Vernile (Kitchener-Centre) takes a moment to learn more about
FS Stewardship programs with Claude Gauthier, GROWMARK
executive director, Ontario operations and Janice Johnson, GROWMARK
marketing and communication specialist and Ontario Co-operative
Association chair. 
Close to seventy individuals representing 36 co-operative organizations gathered at Queen’s Park last week, to help raise the profile of Ontario co-operatives to the provincial government. The event was a great success, with 46 government officials from across the three major parties in attendance, including 14 Ministers, 24 MPPs and a number of their assistants.

The highlight of the evening was the speeches by Finance Minister Charles Sousa (MPP, Mississauga South), and the three all-party Co-op Caucus co-chairs, Minister Marie-France Lalonde (MPP, Ottawa – Orléans), MPP Ernie Hardeman (Oxford) and MPP Percy Hatfield (Windsor – Tecumseh), each of whom recognized the benefits that co-operatives provide and their commitment to supporting the sector moving forward. 

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa addresses the crowd with 
(L-R) Master of Ceremonies Simon Swail, government relations 
manager for Co-operative Housing Federation Canada, 
MPP Percy Hatfield, Minister Marie-France Lalonde and 
MPP Ernie Hardeman all taking turns to convey their solid 
support of the co-operative sector.

Peter Cameron, acting executive director and co-op development manager with the Ontario Co-operative Association was pleased with the outcome. “This extraordinary turnout of government representatives is one of the highest we’ve seen in years and is a testament that our message is being heard,” says Cameron  
  
Hosted by the Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op) in partnership with the Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario (CCO), the reception took place within weeks of learning that the 2017 Ontario budget included a commitment to consolidate the incorporation process for co-operatives.

Throughout the day, members of the joint government relations committee, along with representatives from Brown and Cohen Communications and Public Affairs - the consulting firm hired by the two organizations, participated in a series of pre-arranged, strategic meetings with MPPs and their staff. 

On Co-op and CCO representatives are encouraged by their joint government relations efforts thus far; and eager to take next steps in keeping the positive momentum moving forward at Queens Park.  

For more information on On Co-op government relations strategy, visit: http://www.ontario.coop/programs_services/advocacy_and_government_relations

May 11, 2017

FS Co-ops assist with international grain elevator development in Ukraine

Recently, Renee Brunelle, environmental specialist with SOCODEVI based out of Montreal, reached out to GROWMARK for expertise in grain elevator health and safety procedures and practices to help with the start-up of the first grain elevator co-op in Ukraine.

SOCODEVI is a network of co-operative entreprises and mutuals that share  technical expertise and knowledge with partners in developing countries to create, protect and distribute wealth. Working with the Canadian Co-operative Association, this specific initiative  aims to establishing grain co-operative facilities to enhance the commercial appeal of their grain and increase their marketing abilities.

Renee Brunelle SOCODEVI and Erin Byram 
at FS PARTNERS Delhi grain site.
Erin Byram, GROWMARK Ontario health and safety specialist spent a full day with Brunelle. First, at the GROWMARK Ontario region office in Kitchener, where they discussed policies and procedures followed by a tour of the Delhi elevator with FS PARTNERS operations manager Jeff House and the lead operator Brian Rutherford.

The day consisted of sharing concepts and safe practices around confined space policies and safe house-keeping efforts such as dust control and avoiding slips, trips and falls. Byram shared the power of empowering  staff. “When your employees become the champions of good health and safety, it becomes a team effort and a better environment for all involved," says Byram.  

But this isn’t the first visit to an FS site by SOCODEVI for this project. In 2013, the group toured AGRIS Co-operative’s Rochester site to learn more about operations and gain a better understanding of the co-op business model. In 2017, another visit was organized with AGRIS at its Thamesville site. 

Jim Campbell, AGRIS Co-operative general manager and 
Sergii Kurdytskyi, product manager in Ukraine at AGRIS 
Chatham office.
Adrian Van Dyk, AGRIS Co-operative operation manager, notes the differences in the size of the facility as smaller than FS operations and they specialize in mainly sunflower seeds and wheat. “It was a good sharing experience for both groups,” says Van Dyk. "Even though the operations are different in many ways, the co-operative model and principles remain a constant.”

This is just one of many similar projects. To read more about this project and others with SOCDEVI and CCA, visit: the société de coopération pour le dévelopement international.



Mar 23, 2017

FS System promotes nutrient stewardship at March Classic!

The FS Stewardship pledge and commitment to the 4Rs was the focus at this year's FS exhibit at Grain Farmers of Ontario March Classic Conference and tradeshow in London this week. 

With excellent support and enthusiasm from the FS System, the back right hand corner of the trade show floor proved to be a very high-energy and visible meeting place for the many customers, colleagues and friends of FS that dropped by to say hi.
   
FS team at March Classic (L-R): Paul May, Jackie Littlejohn and Timea Jablanski of UPI Energy, Randy Broughton-FS PARTNERS, Justine Lennox-North Wellington Co-op, Kent Wolfe-AGRIS Co-op, Juli Paladino-FS PARTNERS, Terry Stevenson-AGRIS Co-op and Wanstead Farmers Co-op, Janice Johnson-GROWMARK, Mike Dotterman-AGRIS Co-op, Dale Cowan-AGRIS Co-op dand Wanstead Farmers Co-op, Bill Brown-GROWMARK, Petra Hathaway-Great Lakes Grain and Marilyn McQueen-FS PARTNERS. 
Also assisting but not in this photo are: Jim Irvine-Great Lakes Grain, Darrin Angus-Wanstead Farmers Co-op, Devin Homick-Great Lakes Grain and Mike McCarthy-FS PARTNERS. 

Mar 22, 2017

Congratulations to FS crop specialists earning CCS (Certified Crop Specialist) designations

Kim Hooey
Tyler Sabelli
Kim Hooey, Lucknow District Co-operative FS crop specialist, and Tyler Sabelli, Jess Snobelen and Mike Veenema, crop specialists with AGRIS Co-operative have all successfully completed the requirements necessary to hold credentials as a Certified Crop Specialist (CCS) in the FS SystemThis prestigious achievement is the next level up in their extensive agricultural training. 

The Certified Crop Specialist accreditation recognizes crop advisors for their production expertise, says Don McLean, GROWMARK Ontario agronomy business director. “These credentials prove a CCS’s ability to put his or her training to work in finding solutions that help producers optimize agronomic results, economic return and environmental stewardship.
Jess Snobelen

Mike Veenema
To earn the title of Certified Crop Specialist, students are required to successfully complete a series of comprehensive written and verbal exams designed to establish base standards of knowledge on the topics of nutrient management practices, integrated pest management, soil erosion and water quality. Among the skill sets assessed were technical knowledge; the ability to discover, identify and analyze yield-limiting factors from a grower’s field records; identify common pest problems and recommend economic treatment measures; discuss and analyze the economic aspects of crop production; and understand the need-identification process.

Currently there are 17 individuals in Ontario that hold this GROWMARK designation and are among approximately 200 in the FS Co-operative System’s service area of Ontario and the states of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.



Feb 24, 2017

AGRIS-Co-operative awarded 2016 4R Nutrient Stewardship Agri-Retailer

AGRIS Co-operative was recently awarded the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Agri-Retailer award at the Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers(CAAR) Annual Conference in Banff, Alberta.

“Using 4R Nutrient Stewardship, we can help our customers fully realize the benefits of this program”, said Jim Campbell, general manager of AGRIS-Co-operative. The framework aligns perfectly with the responsible, effective, and profitable planning we offer our customers. If we can help farmers to optimize crop yields, and make sustainable contributions to Canada’s agri-food sector, it’s a win for everyone.”

AGRIS Co-operative has embraced 4R Nutrient Stewardship philosophies and strategies with 14 of the co-operatives’ 22 Certified Crop Advisors having completed FertilizerCanada’s eLearning 4R training. Additionally, introductory training sessions of the key elements of 4R Nutrient Stewardship were completed by all staff. And most recently, the AGRIS board of directors has adopted the FS Stewardship Pledge.

AGRIS-Co-operative Ltd. works alongside other Ontario stakeholders, including Fertilizer Canada, to further the adoption of 4R Nutrient Stewardship to protect and conserve water quality and ecosystem health in the province.

Adrian Vandyk, AGRIS Co-operative operations manager accepts the award for the 
co-operative, presented by Cassandra Cotton, director, sustainability and membership with Fertilizer Canada.

Feb 16, 2017

Celebrate Canada's National Ag Day!

Today, Feb. 16 is being recognized as Canada’s Agriculture Day with many events and celebrations being hosted around the country.

The theme for the day is Let’s Celebrate the Food We Love, and the plan is that the agriculture and agri-food community will host events and conversations across the country to do just that.

“It’s all about showing our love, pride and passion for an industry that puts food on our tables,” said Candace Hill, manager of Agriculture More Than Ever. “We want to give everyone the opportunity to have a voice in the conversation and celebrate the industry that feeds the world.”

https://www.agriculturemorethanever.ca/cdn-ag-day/
Twitter hashtag #CdnAgDay
Share your stories!

Dec 12, 2016

Let good health and safety practices save you from final jeopardy!

“Safety should not be viewed as an extra step in what we do; it should be just how we do our jobs,” simply said by Erin Byram, GROWMARK Ontario’s health and safety specialist at her annual FS Health and Safety training day.

This year’s program began with a lesson about site inspections given by Lester Zmolek, GROWMARK senior safety specialist with an interactive session called “what’s wrong with this picture?” The group covered a number of scenarios such as:  where and how to store flammables, how often to check the integrity of an eye-wash station and learning that the number one cause of incidents is from slips, trips and falls.

Lester finished by saying we can’t stop our employees from coming across hazards in their everyday jobs, “but we can make darn sure every employee is given the proper tools and training to handle things the right way.”

Don McLean, GROWMARK Ontario agronomy business director led the group through the many hazards to watch for while crop scouting and attending to growers fields. Such concepts as heat exhaustion and physical exertion from just walking through a large soybean field, checking blind spots when driving heavy spray equipment and something as simple as watching out for any aggressive dogs that might be roaming farmers’ fields.

Erin added to this the reality of mental fatigue and stress during the demanding spring growing season. “With today’s demands and expectations of getting more done in less time, it is important to not cut corners and to listen to your body,” she warned.

Fleet safety was covered by Dana Wells, UPI Energy manager, ERT, Compliance and Fleet Services in regards to changes to annual and daily safety inspections and the importance of recording your findings truthfully. Dana finished up by delivering a strong message on the importance of performing proper wheel inspections, stating that “Wheel-off incidents are preventable!”

The highlight of the day took place just before lunch with a rousing rendition of the well-known game-show Jeopardy. The creative interactive team-activity had participants jumping up and shouting out health and safety answers to win top points for their team. Congratulations to team Safety Dogs for the win!

See photos below of many of the great moments captured throughout the day:


Erin Byram welcomes the group.

Let's play Health & Safety Jeopardy!







Lester Zmolek calls out first person to answer for a
chance to win Jeopardy points for their team!






Dana Wells talks fleet safety.




                 
Don McLean talks about
staying safe in the field.



Health and Safety is top of mind for GROWMARK System staff. Join us next year for our 10th annual Health and Safety Day!