Oct. 7, 2020

With the start of the fall season now official, our industry transitions from crop care activities to harvest and then the beginning of a new growing season. While there will be areas with a bountiful harvest, I ask that we all remember our friends who are experiencing tremendous challenges from fires in the West, to extreme storm damage in parts of the Midwest, and torrential rains across the South and Southeast from numerous tropical systems. All impacted by these events remain in our thoughts. It continues to be a year that we will not forget.

ARA recently held its fall board and conference meetings. Due to continuing health concerns, the meeting was conducted virtually and included discussions and actions being taken by all ARA committees.
  • Member services provided an update on membership activities with a focus on our new leadership assessment offering, the ARA NAVIGATOR 360°. This tool collects feedback from peers, supervisors, and other selected contacts and interprets their feedback to provide an interactive report that can be utilized to develop an individual leadership and skill development plan. If you have not completed a similar assessment in the past few years, I’d highly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.
  • The conference planning committee continued its work to provide attendees with a great experience at our virtual 2020 conference. A reduced enrollment rate has been developed which I believe will be a great value to conference attendees. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to participate in the virtual trade show…the technology is impressive.
  • ARAPAC committee members received an update on support activities provided for members of congress that have supported our industry. If you are not active in ARAPAC, I highly encourage you to become a leader of industry by clicking HERE (this does not obligate you to contribute to ARAPAC). Once you sign up as a leader of industry, please take the next step and contribute to ARAPAC. This election has been described by many as the most consequential in our lifetimes, so please help us help those who support ag retail by contributing what you can to ARAPAC. Your donation can be invoiced monthly to help spread out your support amount.
  • A public policy update was provided by working group leads. The group also heard from Ed Messina from the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs. Ed discussed key activities being undertaken by his team, including the dicamba issue. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner also spoke to the group regarding his views on issues facing agriculture and the upcoming election.
  • The investment committee met to discuss the transition to a new advisory service related to ARA’s investment portfolio.
  • The nominating committee recommended the reappointment of several ARA board members, along with the addition of a group of new board members to replace those who have completed their service to the association. The newest members of the ARA board include:
    • Mike Twining from Willard Agri-Service
    • Jim Davis from Meherrin Agricultural and Chemical Company
    • Clay Houchin from Buttonwillow Warehouse Company
    • Rodney Wilson from Wheeler Brothers Grain
    • Jeff Blair from GreenPoint Ag
We extend our welcome to these incoming members of the ARA board of directors along with our appreciation to Alec Sheffer from Agri-AFC (GreenPoint Ag) for his many years of service to the ARA board.
  • The executive committee met to discuss a recent task force report related to the future economic outlook of the ARA along with the winter board meeting and fly-in. Due to the closure of congressional offices related to the COVID-19 pandemic it was decided the winter meeting should be converted to a virtual experience as well. Details will be forthcoming on the enrollment process for the meeting along with a plan for conducting virtual meetings with key members of congress in lieu of traditional in-person Hill visits.
  • Board meeting activities included the seating of new board members, a financial report through August, the presentation of the 2021 budget, a report on the budget task force, the formation of a dues task force, and updates from each of the ARA committee chairs. The 2021 budget includes significant expense reductions to reflect the impact of the virtual conference and ongoing income challenges reflective of today’s ag economic environment and continued industry consolidation.
The ARA Annual Conference program is being finalized and registration is open. Attendees will gain insights on topics including the farmer of the future, how COVID-19 has changed ag retail, how to harness knowledge for a successful future, the Outthinker Process® presented by Kaihan Krippendorff, a keynote from Kevin Freiberg on creating a growth culture, and the impact of the results from the upcoming election as seen through the eyes of an industry panel. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has been invited to deliver closing remarks to the conference.

Your ARA team in DC continues to work hard on your behalf. Whether it is their continuing efforts related to the impact of COVID-19 on our industry, influencing policy on chemical labeling issues, working on transportation, or the multiple other issues facing the industry, no other group is 100% focused on the best interests of the ag retailer like ARA.

If you are not yet a member, please consider lending your voice to ARA and become an active supporter of the association.

As always, I’ll close with a sincere “thank you” to each and every member of the Agricultural Retailers Association for your support. I wish everyone a safe fall season. We hope to “see” you at the ARA conference on December 1 and 2.
Rod Wells
Agricultural Retailers Association
Editor's Note: You can find an archive of these letters at www.aradc.org/chairmansletter

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) is a nonprofit trade association representing the interests of retailers across the United States on legislative and regulatory issues on Capitol Hill. As the political voice of agricultural retailers, ARA not only represents its membership but also educates members on the political process and important issues affecting the industry. © 2020

Agricultural Retailers Association
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