Photo Friday: 2017 Answer Plot

We had a successful (and hot) 2017 Answer Plot on August 16. There was standing room only in our presentation tents, which told us that despite the growing season we’ve endured this year, there is still a desire to learn for next year.

2017 Answer Plot topics included:

  • Nitrogen Management: Lessons Learned in 2017 for Success in 2018
  • Corn & Beans: Finish Strong in 2017, Start Strong in 2018
  • Why Can’t I Kill Weeds Anymore?: Managing with Resistance
  • Are Traits Still Relevant?: Seed Trait Technology
  • Does YieldPro Still Pay?
  • Your Credit Options
  • Keynote Presenter for those in our Harvest Elite group: King of Corn, Dr. Bob Nielsen 

Many thanks to all who attended. We know you have many places to be and we’re glad you spent the day with us.

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An Investment in West Milton, Ohio

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On August 1 Harvest Land purchased Community Oil Station, located at 650 S Miami St. West Milton, Ohio.  Community Oil Station has been in operation since 1923 and was previously owned primarily by family. Since being purchased by Harvest Land, it is now owned by our 5,400 farmer-members.

We are proud that the Wilson family would consider our business values and embedded community spirit similar to theirs, creating a smooth transition of ownership. Ownership of the business may have changed, but the quality of service will not. Joe Wilson and Steve Pour joined the Harvest Land team and will continue to service the area they call home.

Though the name of the business is Community Oil Station, Harvest Land did not purchase the physical station, but rather the fuel gallons. We also made a substantial investment into the West Milton community and its people, which we were reminded of earlier this week.

Our CEO received a hand written letter from a farmer who has done business with Community Oil for over 50 years. They described the outstanding level of service received by Community Oil and the relationship of trust built over the decades.

Take a look:

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“If your people is like the family

Joe, Steve & Kathy,

you will be fine with me.”

We can’t explain how much we appreciated this note from someone we’ve not yet met. Their confidence in our ability to keep the family spirit of Community Oil burning bright is not taken lightly.

The purchase of this business doesn’t just represent growth of our farmer-owned cooperative. It also signifies an investment in the West Milton community and a commitment of value to the families which we will serve.

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Developing Leaders: ACE

As our cooperative business evolves, Harvest Land recognizes the need to invest in our greatest asset: our employees. With nearly 1/3 of our employee group retiring in the next ten years, there is immense opportunity for individuals to advance their careers within our cooperative and gain extensive experience to provide greater service and value to our members.

We believe in hiring attitudes and teaching skills. If we can find the best people to be a part of our team, the skill set to do the job well will follow. In 2016 we developed two programs to capitalize on the tremendous talent we already have employed at our cooperative.

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The ICE (Internal Career Excellence) program was developed last year to prepare employees for the increased responsibilities and future demands of an evolving agriculture climate. This program creates opportunities to provide emerging frontrunners with a broader perspective of our business, and the more-strategic perspective enables them to see our business as a whole—beyond specific functions or departments. The ICE program is designed to enable participants to strategically frame their thinking, learn and use basic cooperative business knowledge and tools to better serve our members.

ACE Logo-01ACE (Accelerated Career Excellence) was also created in 2016, and follows the same guidelines as ICE but with an external hire. Both programs had an excellent inaugural year. We had more than forty employees apply for ICE and eight external candidates apply for ACE, proving the strong desire individuals have to learn how to provide greater value to our farmer-members.
Our first-ever ACE program participant was Kyle Baumer, a Centerville, Indiana native. Kyle was raised on a 400-acre dairy farm and went on to graduate from Indiana University East with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management with a concentration in marketing. Prior to Harvest Land’s ACE program, he worked outside the agriculture industry.

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Kyle applied for the ACE program because he always knew he wanted to get back to his roots in agriculture. He viewed the program as a great way to see what Harvest Land does  from the ground floor, up,  knowing that possible opportunities would be presented if he was willing to put in the hard-work along the way.

“The greatest advantage going through the ACE program was that I got to work in every segment of our company and learn from people that have been with us for many years,” Kyle said. “Also, being able to attend the leadership and communication courses was very self-rewarding.” Harvest Land partnered with Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agribusiness and Bayer Crop Science to facilitate these elite trainings.

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“One of the challenges I found being the new guy was gaining fellow employees’ trust, which took a little time. I learned that you must be willing to learn the whole time and not be afraid to ask questions when uncertain of a situation or duty,” Kyle went on to explain of his ACE experience.

On July 31 Kyle moved into a grain originator role, where the primary functions of the position are to originate grain from local producers, to provide marketing education for Harvest Land Co-op customers and to help achieve Harvest Land’s grain department mission and goals, which result in outstanding customer service and a profitable grain department.

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“I look forward to working with farmers and helping them better market their grain. I know this will be a great learning opportunity for me to work with our farmers and gain insight into how they run their business,”  Kyle said.

We are so glad that Kyle made the decision
to come back to his agricultural roots –
he has been a tremendous addition to our team!

If you’d like to learn more about Harvest Land’s career development programs, we invite you to visit our website.

 

 

 

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Be Still

After 27 inches of rain in the last 31 days for some parts of our trade territory, there is nothing like waking up to this forecast earlier this week:

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As we recover from another shower, we wanted to share with you a video from one of our customers, Alan Bays.

Four generations of Bays have used Harvest Land’s service and products, forming a business relationship that spans fifty years. Excellent reliability with fuels, competitive pricing, available purchasing options and a knowledgeable team are all qualities on which the Bays family relies on Harvest Land.

If the name sounds familiar, it should. The Bays were the cover family of our 2012 Annual Report.

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Justin Bays, Brian Bays,  Elle Contos, Bennett Contos and Sarah Contos

Brian Bays once said of the family’s history with Harvest Land:

“With Harvest Land we’ve sustained a very long-term, business relationship that has provided quality supplies and price-competitive opportunities. We’ve consistently had good relationships with Harvest Land employees, and they always strive to provide solutions for our operation.”  -Brian Bays

The Lapel area, where the Bays farm, has gotten the brunt of the 2017 torrential rains. It seems that if a shower hits Indiana, it’s sure to hit their farm.

But, there is still hope.

We invite you to take a look at this inspiring video from Alan, brother of Brian:

We are so proud to be a small part of Bays’ family operation.

 

 

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Cultivating Communities: Teri Dunlavy

Often when you contact a Harvest Land location you may not know the person on the other end of the line. Those conversations are typically all business and very transactional. But what if you knew a little more about the person working to serve your from your local farmer-owned cooperative?

Every so often we’d like to introduce you to a Harvest Land employee and tell their cultivating communities story. Today marks the first entry in our Cultivating Communities series.

Our employees continue to find opportunities to cultivate communities in creative ways. We ask every employee (more than 300) to commit 8 hours annually to community service. It’s interesting to hear where employees dedicate their 8 hours and what community groups are special to them once they leave work for the day.

Teri Dunlavy is our Credit Manager and works out of the Richmond administrative office. We’ll let her tell you about what that role entails:

“My role with Harvest Land Co-op Inc., is Credit Manager.  I, along with my staff, Rachel Osborne and Tammy Fox, are responsible for monitoring the collection of our accounts receivable.  With an established account we allow our customers in the agriculture, commercial fuels and home heat portions of our business to charge product they use to an account and pay for it at a later date.  We evaluate new applications, review credit worthiness and set credit limits. If a customer does not pay for the product they have charged, we then have to collect payment.  While we are in the collecting phase, we have to get communication from the customer, find out what is going on that delayed payment and see if we can reach a mutual repayment plan all the while deciding if we can continue to provide goods and services or if we have stop future deliveries of product until we have been paid.  Customers paying for the product they buy from us directly affects our ability to continue to be in business, serve our customers and generate income to be able to pay our bills and our employees.  I also spend some extra time in our agronomy area with getting information out about financing options that allow our growers to spread repayment out to harvest and match their cash flows while at the same time reducing our exposure risk and hopefully providing them with a cost saving benefit.

We spend a large amount of time in front of our computer screens, on the telephone and even out with our customers, more often on the agronomy side, getting to know their needs and becoming familiar with them so that if something does happen to their prompt payments, we can identify problems as quickly as possible and limit our risks of exposure for loss.  We spend time making sure we have accounts set up in the correct names and that the people using products are the people holding the accounts.  Within our department, we sometimes describe what we do in this way:

We are like Walmart or your local grocery store only our groceries are seed, fuel, chemicals and grain.  Our department allows our customers to get their groceries and walk out the door with a promise to pay the next month.  We have to be able to identify the customers that we feel comfortable walking out the door with groceries on a promise to pay and hold accountable those that need to pay before they leave!”

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For five days in June, Teri volunteered at Royal Family KIDS camp in rural Indiana. The camp is exclusively for children in the foster care system. Thirty-two children (16 boys, 16 girls) spent five days exploring, creating, singing, listening, learning, tearing apart and building back up again, all while beginning each day with a Bible lesson to carry with them throughout the day.

So how did Teri get involved with this organization?

“Our church has been providing a camp under the Royal Family KIDS organization for 16 years.  Before and after camp, our camp director and some of the staff share about the camp experience with the congregation.  I had listened to their updates over the years and this year camp was during a week that Mike was going to be gone for a corporate meeting, our kids are both out on their own in what we refer to as “Big Kid Land” and my schedule was wide open to be available.  It’s a rare thing when all the excuses a person makes for NOT doing a something are simply removed and the door seems to open wider and wider.  This year was that year for me so I took it as sort of an it is meant to be thing and I signed up!  Camp takes 2 adults for every child and at 32 kids, we needed over 60 adults.  Camp  staff is on site from Sunday through Friday and kids are with us Monday to Friday.  I told our director to just put me where she needed someone the most.  I got photographer!  There were 3 of us and you might think that would be over-done however, with fishing, swimming, archery, horseback riding and multiple craft areas each day there is a LOT of activity going on.  The kids each get an individualized photo book of happy camp memories to take home with them at the end of the week.  The challenging part is that the photos can’t contain any of the other children unless they are of the same family. 

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During the week at camp, the kids get to play with no worries and no strings attached.  They don’t have to worry where food will come from or if there will be any adult drama or dangerous drama for them to deal with.  The kids range in ages from 6 to 11.  After 11, they graduate out of the program.  That is one of the bitter sweet things as an 11 year old is still really a kid!”

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The children who attend this camp come from various backgrounds, but something that lacks with each is stability. Unfortunately, the children are shuffled around a lot depending on home and family situations. But for these five days, the camp’s goal is to provide great stability, care, encouragement and love.

Royal Family Kids Camp even has a surprise birthday party day where every child is celebrated as though it’s their birthday and receives presents! Can you imagine the joy in that room on that particular day?

Teri went on to say this about her experience:

“I’m very blessed as I grew up in a family with my mom, dad, brother and sister all living together and in the same location for 17 of the 22 years I lived at home.  Mom and dad still live on my childhood farm.  I was slightly familiar with the foster care system as we had a foster child for a few months while I was in middle school, I have an aunt raising grandchildren so that they would not become part of the foster system and in following a co-worker with her journey to adopt her daughter.  Mike and I moved a few times early in our marriage but were able to raise our children together in the same home where we have been for 24 years (our kids are 27 and 23) on his family farm with his parents living just down the road.  It’s hard for me to think that it’s not that way for all children and families.  Giving one week to create a happy experience for kids who don’t get to experience that same stability and family together experience seemed like a small thing.  Now that I have done it, I realize that it IS only a small portion but hopefully one that leaves an impression on these kids as they grow up and that provides a happy childhood memory.

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It is fascinating to hear how people spend their time after the business doors are locked for the night and the lights are shut down. Everyone has something they’re passionate about outside of the office.

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Teri is in the center, surrounded by her family.

Thank you, Teri, for sharing your personal story

of how you cultivate communities

outside the walls of Harvest Land.

We’re quite proud to have you on our team.

 

 

 

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America’s Got Talent

There is a familiar topic often discussed around the tanks, bins and offices of our farmer-owned cooperative: Finding good help. 

Today more than ever we’re in constant need of individuals who are willing and able to work. But we understand that we’re not alone in this need. We visit with other cooperatives, agriculture industry partners and businesses in general who have a real need for employees to fill various job openings and be willing to do the job at hand.

While there is great social pressure for people to attend four-year colleges, we believe in the value of sound training, honing a skill and capitalizing on natural talents. Not everyone was cut out to be a financial analyst, programmer or lawyer. Many people are much better at framing a home or repairing a bridge than they would be behind a computer. We need more of these talented workers to keep America running!

We need more applicators who understand the importance of chemistry, mixing order and precise spraying so that the crop grows strong and healthy.

We need more people who find value in their day when they realize they supplied propane to two elementary schools, the soup kitchen and a country church – all in the same day.

We need more truck drivers who enjoy routine and understand weight and structure limits, licensing and defending against distracted drivers who are on their phone.

We need more welders who can repair the tongue on a trailer needed to haul seed corn to the local farmer.

We need more individuals who would much rather work in the fresh air and sunshine (or crisp air and snow), instead of a frigid air conditioned office, scrolling Facebook on company time.

We need more folks who don’t mind a little dirt under their nails and appreciate a good bar of lava soap. There is absolutely nothing wrong with ending the day in soiled clothes and dirty hands; those are both great indications of a hard day’s work.

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We tend to believe that the person who can mix shielding gas along with wire electrode to combine metals to repair a tank that goes on to heat a doctor’s office during a winter storm is just as important as the doctor, herself.

Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can repair a water line that irrigates 100 acres of corn that will be donated to the local food pantry once marketed in the fall.

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Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can process the mechanics of a machine and understand the intricate details of power. They understand cause and effect and that each piece serves a purpose.

Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can recognize a leak within a seal and repair it before it costs the company thousands of dollars in replacement parts.

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Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can walk three feet into a soybean field and identify the cause of the damage and make a recommendation for addressing it before the grower loses hundreds of acres to disease.

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Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can use common sense to logically think through a process and find a solution. This basic, but crucial, talent is how food is grown to feed the world, cures are found and lives are literally saved.

Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they genuinely care about customer service and believe in treating people with respect. They are honest and trustworthy and it is obvious to anyone who does business with them.

Some people have the greatest talent in the world because they can communicate clearly that everything is going to be ok when a worried home owner calls in a panic because she smells gas during her baby’s nap time.

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We need more of these people. The ones who are ready to execute on the talents instilled in them, build upon the skills they’ve already acquired and spend their days working for the common good.

America’s got this talent, and we’re looking for it. If you’re interested in a career, rather than just another job, we hope you’ll contact Harvest Land.

 

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Thank You: Fueling Freedom 2017

Another successful Fueling Freedom is in the books and we have you to thank!

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For every gallon of fuel pumped during the event, CountryMark and Harvest Land donated 50 cents to the local National Guard Family Readiness Group. It’s pretty awesome when you consider that more than 20 National Guard Family Readiness Groups will benefit from Fueling Freedom in 2017.

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100% of the proceeds from Fueling Freedom go to support local National Guard Family Readiness Groups. Family Readiness Groups fund activities for troops and their families. Many of the groups use their funds to host summer picnics, hold Christmas dinners, send packages to deployed soldiers, and offer after-school programs for children of American soldiers.

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And this was only what Harvest Land contributed!

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Many thanks to anyone who purchased fuel from 12:00 – 5:00 to support Fueling Freedom. Your willingness to support such a worthy cause is very much appreciated.

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Photo Friday: Colors of Independence

Our nation will celebrate its independence next Tuesday, July 4. The weekend we’re about to kick off will be filled with parades, cook-outs, concerts, family get-togethers, fireworks and of course a lot of red, white and blue.

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The three colors of independence are all over the farm if you take minute to recognize them!

Today in this “Photo Friday” we’re doing just that.

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Sure sign that a farm kid lives here.

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Who doesn’t love a good farm truck with a story, or two?

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If you’re like us, you’ll agree that it’s important to keep in mind our history as we move and progress forward. Enjoy this Independence Day video from the History Channel:

 

Happy New Year

 

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Save The Date: August 16

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What are you doing on August 16?

Hopefully spending the morning with us!

We invite you to save the date for our 2017 Answer Plot to be held at our Winfield plot in Pershing, Indiana.

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2017 Answer Plot topics include:
  • Nitrogen Management: Lessons Learned in 2017 for Success in 2018
  • Corn & Beans: Finish Strong in 2017, Start Strong in 2018
  • Why Can’t I Kill Weeds Anymore?: Managing with Resistance
  • Are Traits Still Relevant?: Seed Trait Technology
  • Does YieldPro Still Pay?
  • Keynote Presenter: King of Corn, Dr. Bob Nielson
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Harvest Land Agronomist Steve Dlugosz

Our expert agronomy team and Winfield’s top resources will be available all day to ensure you leave in the afternoon with great ways to preserve the potential of every acre you farm.

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Stick around and we’ll buy your lunch!

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Mark you calendar now: August 16, 2017 at 8:30 AM in Pershing.

 

 

 

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Summer Break for Farm Kids

“Well, the kids are ready to go back to school,” a coworker said last Monday.

“Ready to go back to school?,” I questioned in surprise. “Didn’t summer break start at Memorial Day?” I asked, making sure I understood him.

“Yes. But since break started they’ve been at the barn by 6:30 every morning, and now with no homework we’re working outside until at least 10:00 every night. I leave a list every day before I come to the office. Life was easier when they got to go to school from 8:00 – 3:00,” he explained.

I couldn’t help but laugh. I’ve been in those shoes, or boots, before.

Summer “break” isn’t nearly as relaxing for farm kids as it might be for those without livestock to feed, barns to clean out or hay to bale.

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What Pool Membership?

Farm kids typically don’t have a pool membership, but rather a creek, pond or river to cool off in when the day is long and hot. Granted, they usually have to wade through thistles, rocks and maybe even nettles to get to the place where the cool water flows, but that’s still better than packing a pool bag and warm Capri Suns to suck on chlorine water for an afternoon.

Also, farm kids don’t understand all the recent hype about stock tank pools. They’ve been cooling off in stock tanks for as long as they can remember! The water was never that clear, though…

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What Is Sleeping In?

This concept isn’t new, but it’s somewhat foreign to farm kids. When farm kids hear others talk about sleeping until 10:00 – or even noon – they think to themselves, “My day is half over by then!” or, “Why in the world would you start your day in the hottest hour?”

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Who remembers this print that International Harvester put out in 1975?

Farm kids would probably love the chance to sleep in just once, but they’re afraid they’d miss the best sunrise and they also prefer to have certain jobs done before it gets too hot.

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Homework Takes on Entirely New Meaning

Even though school is out, farm kids still have homework. It comes in the form of lists. Daily or weekly, farm kids are given lists from their parents and/or grandparents of deliverables they must accomplish. This isn’t just “home” work – this is also barn work, yard work, car work, field work and farm work. This makes a book report sound like, well, a day at the pool.

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Two-a-Days? More Like Twelve-a-Days

Farm kids might participate in fall sports, which kick of two-a-day practices during summer break. But farm kids don’t get much of a rest in between these two-a-days, because when they’re not at practice they can be found baling hay, cleaning out the barn, carrying buckets, building fence, cleaning out and bedding stalls, and more. So they might participate in two-a-day practices, but their hardest workout actually begins when they leave the gym.

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Farm kids understand early in life the value of hard work because once their two-and-a-half month shift of hard labor is finally over, it’s time to go back to school.

Happy summer “break” to all the farm kids out there.

We’re glad to have you home!

 

 

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