Service In Action: Pack Away Hunger

Sometimes it’s good to remember that part of our fabric isn’t limited to corn, soybeans, diesel and propane.

The cooperative roots of service run deep and span miles throughout the communities in which we do business. Appropriately, of course, since our business is built on the cooperative spirit of helping one another reach a common goal.

Harvest Land believes in a culture which reflects the importance of service to others, and we created our Cultivating Communities program to allow that culture to thrive. Cultivating Communities encourages Harvest Land employees to volunteer eight service hours annually to organizations that align with her personal values.

Pack Away Hunger is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and others who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. It’s a group that our farmer-members and employees have become familiar with over the last three years, as we’ve partnered with local churches and FFA chapters to pack meals that went on to local food banks and also Mission Guatemala.

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In March twenty-three churches, nine FFA chapters, various community organizations and Harvest Land Co-op employees and farmer-members partnered for the 5th annual Pack Away Hunger event, which packaged 162,216 nutritious meals to be distributed. The meals went specifically to Gleaner’s, Midwest Food Bank and eleven more local community food pantries which will receive between 1,000 to 10,000 meals, depending on their size and the area they cover.

The meals, which more than seven hundred volunteers prepared over multiple shifts, were formulated to provide a rich source of easily digestible protein, carbohydrates and vitamins needed by a malnourished body. They consist of high-quality white rice, fortified soy, a blend of six dehydrated vegetables and twenty-one vitamins and minerals. They’re packaged in fourteen-ounce bags.

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Part of Harvest Land’s purpose is to do what’s right while utilizing technology, science and hard work to feed a growing world. We really cannot think of a better organization of which to partner to align with our cooperative’s purpose. We had several employees spend their Saturday at Pack Away Hunger, working towards a common goal to take care of one another. It’s what rural communities do, and we’re proud to be a part of it.

 

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But what happens after the Pack Away Hunger Event? After the bags are sealed and the trucks are loaded and the hair nets – beard nets for some Harvest Land employees – are tossed in the trash never to be seen again? How do those eight hours committed by our farmer-members and employees go on to serve others?

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Here is one example. You can see the local Western Wayne FFA chapter working at First Church in Hagerstown to distribute food during the monthly mobile food pantry. Part of this offering was food that we packaged at Pack Away Hunger.

And just last week we received these photos directly from Guatemala:

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The following were taken at ‘Tat Loy’ a drug and alcohol rehab center in San Lucas – Toliman. This particular location is a recipient of the rice meals that we packed for their residents. There are more than 72 individuals at the facility currently.

Right now the building is a two story building with a small deck on the roof but they are expanding the second story and building a full covered deck on the roof, which will become the third floor, to serve more occupants. In these photos they are building a frame around the a rebar column in advance of pouring a concrete column that will eventually support the upper floor.

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Pretty neat to see the familiar Harvest Land logo at work so far from home, huh?

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We thought it pretty special that the meals we packed one morning earlier this spring are not only feeding neighbors who may typically go without, but also the people of Guatemala  whom we’ll likely never have the opportunity to meet.

We’re doing what’s right while utilizing technology, science and hard work to feed a growing world. Sometimes, that includes hairnets, cups of rice and assembly lines rather than 16-row planters and seed tenders.

And we’re ok with that.

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New Fuel Station Coming to Richmond

The Harvest Land Energy Department will soon be opening a new CountryMark diesel fueling station at our Richmond bulk plant location on NW 5th St. in an effort to more efficiently meet the needs of our over-the-road customers.

This location is central to many of the fleet operators in and around Richmond, with easy access to I-70. The new station will be an unattended location, offering 24/7 fueling service for CountryMark’s Premium Super Dieselex-4 as well as DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) to fleet card members. The station should open in mid-May.

Last week the 20,000 split tank, holding 12,000 gallons of CountryMark Premium Dieselex-4 and 8,000 gallons of DEF, was lowered into the ground just north of our administration building.

We thought you might enjoy seeing the tank installation process via a photo blog this week.

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This was a good reminder of our past. The co-op used to sell coal and many remnants of that past venture were seen during the dig process.

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Check out the sun beaming down on the construction site.

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Can you spot John Speer, Energy Division Manager, doing his part to direct Mideast Machinery Movers?

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Jim Sweigart and Julie Lamberson, both with Risk Management of East Central Indiana, were on hand to over see the process to ensure the safety of all involved.

We have had the pleasure of working with Jarrett Trucking & Grading and Mideast Machinery Movers, both out of New Paris, Ohio,  on this project.

Stay tuned for updates on this project and the opening announcement!

Potash and Profitability

Indiana and Ohio producers are growing some of the best corn in the states’ history. But it’s important not to get lulled into a false sense of security: 25% of Indiana soils test below the critical level for potassium.

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In the video below Harvest Land Agronomist Steve Dlugosz explains the importance of potash to a grower’s profitability and the three pitfalls to avoid in order to maintain the proper potassium levels needed to reach yield potential.

Contact your YieldPro Specialist to discuss the next steps in
Preserving the Potential of every acre you farm.

Creative Canvas: STOP WOTUS

Being an AGvocate is not an easy job, but it sure is an important one.

That’s  why we’re always looking for creative ways to share our message with a general public that might not have a strong-rooted understanding of agriculture. Sometimes, that even means developing innovative ways to reach out to key decision makers in Washington DC.

This video, describing some of the frightening details of WOTUS (Waters Of The United States), came out this week and is taking the social media scene by storm. At the time of this writing, it has been viewed 25,000 times in a matter of days. That is a pretty good indicator of a successful video!

The Clean Water Act contains masked verbiage that promotes regulations of every area where water can stand – including the mud puddles your kids and grandkids splash in every April.

I don’t know about you,
but I’m not ready for the government
to play in our puddles.

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An interesting fact: This video was filmed in Delaware County, IN – right here in our trade territory – by farmers who understand the implications of a WOTUS ruling. Many thanks to these farmers and the Delaware County Farm Bureau for their work.

We invite you to share this message far and wide.

War of the Water

Only two – three if you’re reading from Ohio – state lines separate us from a war raging in Iowa. Iowans may not be our neighbors, but they’re our friends, and like us, the people of the Hawkeye state either have, or are directly connected to someone who has, strong ties to agriculture. So when a firestorm takes place on their home turf, it’s probably a good idea for us in Indiana and Ohio to take note.

The raging war, which includes Des Moines Water Works in one corner and three rural counties in the other, is over water usage. But you’ll learn as you examine the issue, the key players and argument, that the outcome of this war could lay the ground for many just like it across the Midwest.

Are you listening now?

Let’s break down the issue:

Who: Des Moines Water Works vs. Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties in rural Iowa. These three counties are part of the drainage district of north central Iowa, which feeds into the Raccoon River. In turn, the Raccoon River – with the Des Moines River – is the main water source for Des Moines Water Works.

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Why: A drought gripped much of the Midwest during 2012-13 (who could forget?), but then intense rainstorms washed many applied nitrates out of the soil. In 2013 Des Moines Water Works said the utility experienced “extremely high nitrate concentrations” during the spring and summer of that year.

To reduce these levels to the 10 milligrams per liter standard for drinking water set by EPA, Des Moines Water Works was forced to run its de-nitrification plant at a cost of almost $1 million. Then, in December 2014, the utility operated the plant for 96 days during the winter months at a cost of more than $500,000 in operations and additional expenses.

The additional expenses really started to stockpile quickly and in early 2015 Des Moines Water Works announced that the utility would no longer pay to take the additional nitrates out of the drinking water supply. Instead, they wanted the people who were believed to be causing the nitrate pollution upstream from the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers (farmers applying nitrogen in Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties) to pay for the de-nitrification plant operation.

What: The lawsuit includes three components:

  1. That the three drainage districts in question don’t have National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits (which are usually reserved for factories to discharge water from their facilities),
  2. That the districts are in violation of the Clean Water Act of Iowa
  3. That the discharge water unsuitable for public use represents a form of trespass on DMWW property.

In total, Water Works is suing for $80 million in damages from the drainage districts and that they be shut down until NPDES permits are obtained.

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When: The notice of intent to sue went out in March 2015. A trial date for the case is set for August 8, 2016.

How (Does This Affect You?): The Des Moines Water Works lawsuit outcome could very well revolve around the definition of groundwater vs. storm water.

(That shudder that just went through your body is completely justified.)

The common perception among experts in Iowa is that the water being discharged by drainage tiles in the state comes from storm water runoff, not groundwater, making agricultural storm water runoff exempt from the Clean Water Act. The question of what constitutes agricultural storm water runoff has never been litigated before.

Des Moines Water Works argues that this is actually groundwater discharge, not storm water, and if the court decides that this is in fact the case, then any discharge water coming from farm drainage tiles in the state can be regulated under the Clean Water Act.

Now that’s frightening.

If Des Moines Water Works succeeds in its lawsuit, the consequences will pay no mind to state lines. The elimination of an agricultural storm water exception in the state of Iowa would quickly turn this into a national issue. In fact, every drainage ditch in the country would then be impacted. And not just the drainage ditch itself, but regulation would also begin on any chemical or fertilizer recommendations made on those ditches.

Plain and simple:
This lawsuit in Iowa could
completely change your operations
and our business.

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Indiana and Ohio each have 50% of their cropland tiled, whereas Iowa has 25% and Illinois has 35%. Source: P.K. Kalita, R.A.C. Cooke, et. al. Subsurface Drainage and Water Quality: The Illinois Experience. Transactions of the ASABE. Vo. 50(5): 1651-1656

Harvest Land is certainly keeping an eye on this debate and we’ll keep our readers up to speed on any progress. The outcome of this war is entirely too personal to the business we do, and not far – at all – from our home base.
I don’t know about you, but I consider it too close for comfort when I can drive to the active battleground on a day trip.

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Sources:

Water In Iowa: The War Intensifies

Iowa’s Nasty Water War