Photo Friday: First Week of March

Today marks Employee Appreciation Day (recognized annually on the first Friday of March) and this one is even more significant because of the year we’ve experienced as a team.

Together, our team has worked through a global pandemic and continued to serve our customers as safely as possible in order to get a crop in the ground, municipalities still operating, livestock fed, homes heated and harvest 2020 safely in the books. Our employees have altered operations to meet county, state and national mandates. They’ve asked tough questions and responded to every request made of them.

And then, we merged! Today so much effort is being put into re-branding, learning new processes and systems, introducing teams and joining forces to best serve our customers.

Co-Alliance employees haven’t missed a beat.

We’ve seen more lamb than lion on this first week of March 2021 and we’ve not heard a single complaint. Our energy teams are still running full bore and our agronomy teams are gearing up, getting seed and product to farms. We welcome you to Photo Friday this first week of March where we offer you a glimpse of what our employees are doing at your local, farmer-owned cooperative.

Bob Temple delivers CountryMark fuel to a farm in Rush County in his newly-rebranded fuel truck.
A big thank you to Argos agronomy for their hospitality to the marketing team this week as we work on communication to our members.
We’re proud to fuel the famous Madam Carroll on beautiful Lake Freeman. Did you know it takes 750 gallons to fill her up? Bring on the warm weather! ☀️
Ryan Sieber, branch manager at Argos agronomy, sits for a few minutes to record an agronomy update for members.
It’s beginning to look a lot like March at our agronomy locations as we gear up for #Plant21. This was taken at our Verona agronomy location.
Hazwoper training allows these rigs to rest for a few minutes while energy drivers ensure compliance.
Macey Orme, energy marketing, utilizes a drone to capture footage for upcoming propane communications.
Team members are working with growers this morning on variable rate seeding recommendations to maximize profitability on every acre.

Thank you, Co-Alliance employees for a job well done!

National FFA Week: For the Future and the Past

The Gettysburg address. 

The I Have A Dream speech. 

The first words spoken from the moon.

We all have memories of certain verbiage that will forever remain with us, because of the history or the profound impact they had. For those in agriculture, “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds,” rings true as the opening lines of the FFA Creed written by E.M. Tiffany.

I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds –– achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.

I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits, is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny.

I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly, with such knowledge and skill as I can secure, and in the ability of progressive agriculturists to serve our own and the public interest in producing and marketing the product of our toil.

I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining; in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so–for others as well as myself; in less need for charity and more of it when needed; in being happy myself and playing square with those whose happiness depends upon me.

I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining; in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so–for others as well as myself; in less need for charity and more of it when needed; in being happy myself and playing square with those whose happiness depends upon me.

I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.

In honor of National FFA Week, we celebrate our FFA heritage, for the future and the past. 

Co-Alliance’s employee group is rich with FFA alumni, each engaged today in agricultural pursuits through the cooperative. FFA taught us how to properly run a meeting using Robert’s Rules of Order, how to speak confidently in front of a group or even how to repair a small engine in record time. 

The next generation of FFA enthusiasts have since climbed the FFA ranks, and continue to do so as children of Co-Alliance employees.

Co-Alliance is committed to agriculture education because we know knowledge is empowering. We partner annually with local FFA chapters to not only provide financial support, but also facilitate educational events.

For the last 2 years our Rushville ag center and the Rushville FFA chapter have partnered for the Turn the Bag Blue and Gold program sponsored by Brevant Seeds.  Ryan O’Neal and Tiffany Miller of the ag center have worked with the FFA to make this a huge success for the Rushville FFA. Only seven chapters are chosen every two years to be involved in this great program. 

Our Greenfield Store has been an integral part of the local FFA chapters for some time. For the Livestock Skill-a-thon they have donated feed samples for chapters to utilize, employees have judged at District FFA contests, and they’ve provided items for silent auctions. Of course, perhaps their most profound contribution has been volunteer time where ever needed.

Our Limberlost location is also FFA proud by donating the time to prepare the food for the Jay County FFA banquet, and Limberlost also applies fertilizer and chemicals for the FFA farm ground. In addition to this, the Limberlost crew supports various judging contests throughout the year. 

Is here a good place to note that the 2019-2020 Indiana State FFA President, Dylan Muhlenkamp, is from our territory and his family are members of Co-Alliance? 

Co-Alliance is FFA proud. We’re empowered by the lessons taught through the organization and encouraged by the generations that will follow in the national blue and corn gold. 

Kicking Off Grain Bin Safety Week

Co-Alliance will always advocate for the American farmer and advocating for safety is forever on our priority list. Grain Bin Safety Week takes place next week, February 21 – 27, 2021 and is an annual observance that promotes grain bin safety on farms and commercial grain-handling facilities. 

Grain operators, farmers and employees are encouraged to help reduce the number of preventable injuries and deaths associated with grain handling and storage, through education and awareness of hazards and safe work practices.

While we certainly honor this week, we also believe fully that grain safety deserves to be a year-around effort. This week, we want to share with you the ways Co-Alliance has worked with rural communities on grain safety and awareness. 

Co-Alliance has donated more than a dozen grain rescue tubes throughout our territory to ensure first responders are equipped with life-saving apparatus. In addition to this, we’ve donated rope rescue sets to two fire departments.

We’ve facilitated trainings with more than 80 fire departments and 600+ first responders, including firemen, sheriff departments, emergency management and state patrols.

We have participated in several county agriculture days through the 4-H organization, elementary schools and Girl Scout troops. Through these efforts, we have facilitated grain safety lessons to more than 300 youth.

We have donated to the Henry, Clinton and Wayne counties’ emergency management training centers to ensure fire departments have an adequate and permanent training center for grain entrapment.

Co-Alliance has also donated to the Porter County MAAC Training Center.

  • 1000 gallons of propane per year for fire training
  • Hundreds of old fire extinguishers
  • Traveled there and trained teams with our simulator

Our efforts haven’t only been directed towards first responders or youth. Sometimes a simple reminder to those who work in this arena is absolutely necessary, too. After we lost two customers and a child on the east side of our territory due to grain entrapment in a 12-month period, the grain department developed an entrapment education bulletin and mailed it to every grain customer.

Grain bin safety is an issue that absolutely affects every generation on the farm and has for decades. Co-Alliance and it’s passionate employees will continue to contribute our time, resources and available funds to the education and advocacy of grain bin safety.

Valentine’s Day on the Farm

If you peek into the card aisle of any store this weekend you’re likely to see a farmer or two trying to find the right Valentine’s Day card for their spouse. They’ll read 10 cards, and put each one back because the perfect card for those in agriculture doesn’t exist. They’re either too sappy or too animated. And none get to the heart of the matter.

None of the cards read, “Thank you for making that urgent parts run in April when you had 100 other things to do but you put our farm first.”

And there isn’t one that reads, “I know it drives you nuts that you have to clean washers and seals out of the dryer vent but I appreciate you doing it.”

There is no Hallmark card stating, “I know I usually take you to the National Farm Machinery show this weekend but it’s been postponed until March 31 – April 3. Raincheck?”

No where will you find, “The midnight light inside the calving barn really brings out the green (and exhaustion) in your eyes.”

American Greetings has yet to publish a card that reads, “Global pandemic. Sky high land prices. Trades wars. Tighter regulation. But we still have each other!”

Those in agriculture usually show their love and appreciation in different ways and throughout the year, not necessarily on February 14, and usually not with a $5.00 greeting card someone else wrote.

It may be shown through a favorite dessert served on a tailgate in October or a ditch-pulled wildflower bouquet on the counter in July or even a weekend away once the crop is finally in the ground in May.

It matters not how you show your appreciation for your Valentine, just as long as you do.

Grower Knowledge Series Covers Farm Succession Planning & High Yields

We’re not letting arctic temperatures slow the pace at which we bring you information.

We invite you to join us virtually for our Grower Knowledge event series in February. This historic month merges two outstanding cooperatives into Co-Alliance Cooperative, and we’ve never been more excited about the opportunity that lies ahead for our employees and members.

Our goals are many, but one includes combining resources to maximize member education and operational success. These two events, focused on farm succession planning (2/23) and high yields (2/25), will bring industry experts to you virtually, providing innovative ways to maximize success for current and future generations.

Watch this brief preview from Jolene herself!

You can register for these events by contacting your local branch!

We certainly hope you can carve out a couple hours in your February schedule to attend these virtual events. Don’t forget to RSVP so we can send you the appropriate materials!

Welcome to Co-Alliance Cooperative.

We’re just getting started.

Meet Our Board of Directors

Cooperative businesses are owned by members and governed by boards of directors. The board is a group of members that has been elected to make decisions for the co-op on behalf of all the other members. As we officially merge with Co-Alliance and form Co-Alliance Cooperative on February 1, 2021, we invite you to take a look at our new district map and the director who will represent you.

In the months that follow, we’ll be highlighting our directors so our members can learn about those leading on their behalf.

They’re fathers and grandfathers, go-getters, valued listeners, neighbors, sons, volunteers, husbands, community leaders, servants, long-time friends, farmers, church deacons, trusted advisors, 4-H supporters, decision-makers, and of course, part of your Co-Alliance Cooperative board.

Harvest Land Co-op Merges with Co-Alliance, LLP

When the original articles of incorporation were written for county cooperatives in the 1920’s, the organizations were being founded on the idea that farmers could be more successful working together as a collective whole than individually. Cooperatively, they could pool resources to gain product more quickly, at a better price, in a larger quantity to serve all. It worked well in in 1920’s – and it still does today. 

Today we’re excited to formally announce that Indiana-based agriculture and energy cooperatives Harvest Land Co-op and Co-Alliance, LLP boards and memberships have overwhelmingly agreed to merge.  

The new organization will be named Co-Alliance Cooperative, Inc. and the merger will take effect on February 1, 2021.  This merger will create a cooperative that is focused on delivering an unmatched customer experience to our shareholders. 

The newly formed Co-Alliance Cooperative, Inc. services customers Indiana, Ohio, Michigan & Illinois. It has four core divisions, including Agronomy, Energy, Grain and Swine & Animal Nutrition.  Together, this new cooperative will have over 900 employees and $1 billion in sales.  Co-Alliance Cooperative will be headquartered in Avon, Indiana.  

The boards have chosen Kevin Still, current CEO of Co-Alliance LLP, to be the new CEO of the merged cooperative.

“Co-Alliance Cooperative brings together two extremely strong cooperatives with a successful history of servicing member-owners at the highest level.  I anticipate this powerful combination will provide synergies and resources that will enhance our customers’ experience and prepare us to meet the needs of our future stakeholders,” said Kevin Still 

Harvest Land CEO Scott Logue will be the Executive Vice President of Co-Alliance Cooperative, Inc. 

“Merging Co-Alliance & Harvest Land enriches our ability to embrace the cooperative spirit by focusing on our member’s needs and investing in our local communities.  This historic merger creates a cooperative that can proactively navigate the ever-changing industries we service and provide an environment in which our customers & employees thrive,” added Scott Logue.

And now, we hustle. 

Before spring comes in like a lion and planters begin rolling we have a lot of work to do. 

You’ll see our logo change from the Harvest Land aerial view of fields to the promising horizon of the Co-Alliance brand. 

You’ll also see our social media accounts merge into the Co-Alliance Cooperative account (make sure you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram!). 

And by the way – you’ll see your dependable fuel driver still arrive on the farm, your propane deliverer still pull a hose to your house and you’ll still hear that familiar voice when you call us with a question. 

Because our people and local service aren’t going anywhere. Everyone remains in place, working for our customers in our rural communities. And we couldn’t be more excited to continue to Cultivate Communities as Co-Alliance Cooperative.

(Say that last sentence three times fast.)

We’re happy to welcome you to Co-Alliance Cooperative and we look forward to remaining your local source for Agronomy, Energy, Grain and Swine & Animal Nutrition.

Salute to Service: Vickie Ramsey

You may be able to find similar product offerings in other places, but you’ll never be able to replicate the people that make Harvest Land what it is today. That’s why we’re so excited to share with you another Salute to Service nomination and this one was awarded third place in the 2020 contest. Vickie Ramsey rides for the Harvest Land brand long after she leaves the Richmond office for the day.

Nomination was submitted by the Manship Family.

Good evening, Harvestland Team! 
We would like to nominate one of your employees for the Salute to Service award. We are customers of Harvestland and value so much all of your work and service. All of your employees have been delightful. One, however, we would like to elevate for your awareness and consideration for this award. 

We would like to nominate Vickie Ramsey. Vickie has gone above and beyond to exemplify positivity, hope and dedication in the community.  They ways in which Vickie serves others is immeasurable.  For years, Vickie has helped lead a 4-H club in her community. This year was exceptionally challenging since face-to-face meetings, workshops, and activities were all canceled.  Most leaders in any organization simply paused activity as a spring/summer quarantine led Hoosiers to “hunker down” and isolate. However, Vickie recognized that the values of staying positive, doing hard work, connectivity to friends and family, and honoring a commitment to doing your best and persevering, should not be lost. She recognized a sense of normalcy for youth (and our communities) was desperately needed.  So, Vickie started an initiative all on her own which helped keep youth connected and engaged via Facebook in positive ways.  In a time when so much had been canceled or was uncertain, Vickie stepped up to help the youth connect online, share their work virtually, see each other online and find hope in the chaos.  The importance of that was impactful in such a scary time for kids of school cancellations, elearning stress, event cancels, etc.  Furthermore, Vickie was one of the first people to step forward to help the community ensure a safe and covid-compliant fair which met guidelines of Purdue, Health Departments and more.  She volunteered multiple hours, attended numerous meetings and worked multiple shifts before, during and after the fair – all to help the youth and serve the kids.  Without her efforts, the outcome would have been different for our county and the children. 

Additionally, Vickie has led several efforts to collect donations for masks, food drives for those in need, and collected and delivered hundreds of socks for those in need.  She’s done all of these (and more) while exemplifying care for neighbors, strangers, ensuring safety, and genuinely valuing her fellow friends.  She’s done all of this with an hope-filled and positive attitude while navigating tough  challenges.  

Since our kids suggested we nominate Vickie, we asked them why.  Here is what they said: 

“Vickie makes me feel good because you know how much she cares about our club and each one of the kids in it. She would go out of her way to help any of us. I would call her if I ever needed help.”

“Vickie makes me feel like I still matter even if I don’t get a really big award. She knows I still did my best and she always makes me feel good.” 

“Vickie makes me happy and is so nice to me.”

“Vickie is really just like a superhero. She never gives up, she includes people, she is kind. She just makes everyone better.” 

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to nominate Vickie Ramsey and we hope you will consider her worthy of winning your award. She’s an amazing ambassador for Harvestland. She’s changing our community, our youth and individual lives for the better. We are grateful to know her. 

Respectfully submitted,
The Manship Family 

We’re grateful to the Manship family for the effort and time they put into this nomination of Vickie. We’re also proud to have such a person on the Harvest Land team! Congratulations to Vickie for receiving such a nomination.

Salute to Service: Royce Cook

You can’t go wrong with sharing good news, especially in a week such as this. We continue to read through the Salute to Service nominations that were submitted on behalf of our employees and feel quite proud to work among some fantastic people. 2020 certainly wasn’t all bad.

This nomination was special because it was written by a farmer-member, rather than an employee. This week we salute Royce Cook, who won second place ($500 and a vacation day!). Royce is the Manager of our East Crops division, which includes Mt. Summit, Oakville and Dunreith Ag Centers.

Nomination was submitted by farmer-member Dale French.

I would like to nominate Royce Cook, Mt. Summit Coop, as an example of a very positive and encouraging employee.  Royce has often been the first to arrive and the last to leave the plant.  It doesn’t matter if you farm 10,000 acres or 500 acres, Royce treats everyone with respect.  He can answer any question you ask of him.  If he doesn’t know the answer, he will find someone who does and get back with you. Royce will always go beyond his expectations just to keep us up and running by coming in early or staying late.  He will often check at the end of the day to see if you need one more tank of anhydrous.  Royce will come in on Sundays and prepare for those of us who think we can’t pass up a good day of sunshine. This past spring I was applying way too much anhydrous and through coming to the field, not once but two or three times, Royce determined I definitely had an external problem.  After bleeding down my hoses and carefully taking my manifold apart, the next day we discovered a hole in the external gasket.  To save me a 2 1/2 hour trip to get one, Royce was able to have one couriered back to me via one of his employees.  This is just one of many tasks Royce gets accomplished. Royce Cook is an outstanding individual, a man who wears many hats. He never has a negative comment and never compares one person to another. I’m sure you know value in people and to so many of us, in or near Henry County, Royce is one of our most valuable assets. My wife and I have often commented, “when Royce retires, so are we”. Whether Royce wins this or not, I’ve always wanted to tell this to someone.  NOW I HAVE!!!

THANK YOU, DALE, FOR THIS FANTASTIC NOMINATION!

2020 Salute to Service Winner Announced

The most gratifying employee program we organize annually is the Salute to Service contest. We receive a tremendous amount of nominations from customers and employees, telling stories of the impactful things our employees do during their day-to-day jobs.

2020 was no different. We’ll share more nominations with you throughout the year, but to kick off 2021 we want to announce the winner and winning nomination.

Nomination written by Teri Dunlavy, Harvest Land’s Credit Manager:

I am nominating Luann Nichol for a 2020 salute to service award.  Luann is well known in her position as HR Manager, but I want to make sure she becomes well known for her heart and dedication to Harvest Land, our board of directors and all of us as employees.  

Luann plays a very important role in not only making sure we get our paychecks every payroll period, she makes sure we are incompliance with labor laws, workman’s comp rules, accident protocol, new employee on boarding, making sure driver’s licenses are current, health physicals are current, mediates tough employee – supervisor conversations, is a great ear for employees needing to vent about work life and often times homelife (I am sure I am missing some key things but you get the idea).  Luann carries our burdens when we are sick and rejoices with us when we have great things happen.  The things she assists us with are not things that can be turned off at 5:00 when official work hours are over.  Sometimes I am sure, she will carry those experiences, relationships, and things she has supported us through for the remainder of time.   

Luann is always the face of Harvest Land and is on call to us 24-7.  I have witnessed people calling her on her vacations, returning e mails on vacation and coming back early from vacations to take care of the needs of employees or our board of directors so that we would have the above mentioned pay checks in our bank accounts on time, help for our busy seasons hired in time, assistance with our enrollment in our benefits packages.  Prior to being at Harvest Land, my previous employers handed out our benefits packages with a deadline for them to be returned. We were expected to figure it out and utilize resource websites or benefit reps on our own.  The service that Luann offers goes above and beyond that.  Luann has made sure that either she or someone from her staff goes through every single benefit package with every employee to make sure they understand their selections and that they feel comfortable with those.  It has also been my experience at other places that pay checks were direct deposited and access to pay stubs and W-2 forms were all on-line.  No exceptions figure out a way to access your information. As employees of Harvest Land, we have a choice in this and that is largely due to the fact that Luann is ok with adding the extra work for her department to allow us to have what is convenient for us rather than what would be convenient for her. 

With the onset of Covid-19, her responsibilities to keep us all safe increased enormously.  She has had to keep up with CDC guidelines and state mandates for Ohio and Indiana, take texts or phone calls at almost all hours to answer questions and explain steps necessary to keep illness down within the company and keep up with how our ill employees are doing.  These conversations and protocols are nothing she has any input in but must see that we comply.  These conversations and the affects that the circumstances have on the employees, their families and our company are all taken very seriously and often I would imagine weigh heavily on Luann as I have witnessed her care and concern for the Harvest Land employees over the years I have worked across the hall from her. 

When we see Luann, she has a smile for us and a calm presence in listening for the facts and even with the tough conversations she has to have she does so with that same calm presence unless the situation calls for a bit of her mom like sternness.  (She is not afraid to use her mom voice!) In my location within the office, I sometimes have a window into just exactly how worried she becomes for our individual well-being.  Luann is more than her title to Harvest Land.  She is an integral part of what we as employees need every day, even when we do not know we need her. 

This pattern of doing what is needed within Harvest Land has been evident throughout her career.  I am confident that I am only mentioning a few of all the many ways she serves Harvest Land.  She has held job titles of Credit Manager, Administrative assistant to the board of directors and CEO in addition to HR manager.  In each position, it is my understanding that when asked, she was willing to take on new things and do what was needed when asked.  She is still doing this today as HR manager and this dedication to us all is why I believe she is worthy of a salute to service! 

Thank you to those who made a nomination for the 2020 contest. We look forward to sharing more stories with you throughout 2021!