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Certified Crop Advisers (CCA).

The sun is rising on another hot summer day as I pull my minivan into the farm lane. The corn is tasseling and the soybeans look great. Dodged the soybean rust bullet for another year and there are no real challenges at this point in time I think.

I stop the van, get out and head to the house to meet with my client. We share some small talk about the family and weekend activities and get to business. We talk about any pest challenges we may face and how best to combat them, any fertility needs and plans for the fall harvest.

I am one of over 13,500 Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) throughout the U.S. and Canada who advises growers on their agronomic production needs every day. Over 70% of the CCAs work for ag retail or farm cooperative businesses. They influence their grower clients on their practice and buying decisions by providing agronomic advice and product use information.

Assisting growers with product selection is a huge role. As many crop protection chemicals go off patent they are picked up by other companies, renamed and sold. Many times there is confusion on what it really is, especially when new premixes are released. Some may or may not be cheaper depending on the level of control they offer. Many old herbicides are enjoying new markets as part of the increase use of Roundup Ready on crops. These can play an important role in managing weed resistance issues. Many farmers do not understand these issues fully or the appropriate actions to take.

The issue of product selection is even more important in light of many crop protection strategies now being implemented through seed traits. There seems to be much confusion on need versus value as companies drive these technologies into the market. CCAs have a valuable role in helping sort out all this information so a grower can make sound decisions for their operation.

Product selection decisions can be based on many factors such as efficacy, cost, application method, timing, company marketing programs, risk management and value to name a few. Different growers prioritize these factors for their way of thinking. A CCA will help evaluate all these factors and work with the grower based on their needs. This is a challenging task in this day and age of price sensitivity.

Factors affecting CCAs directly are the same factors that affect his grower and employer. Each part of the industry (retail, manufacturer, and seed company) has its own unique issues affecting its business. Daily expectations for a CCA may be different today than they were 10 years ago but sound agronomic principles help guide the way.

In most regions of the country there are less growers but many are larger. How they conduct business has changed for many CCAs. Many growers seem to consider input costs as a major factor affecting their operations. A CCA will take this into account of course, but also help keep him focused on practices and products that improve yields and overall profitability.

Impacting the profession in corn/soybeans is definitely the widespread adoption of Roundup Ready and other seed traits. What may be viewed by many as a simplification of these cropping systems has actually complicated some of the grower's production practices. This is a great opportunity for CCAs to help the grower fine tune these programs and maximize his profitability. That's why CCAs are viewed as a trusted business partner by the grower and the face of the business they represent.

Many employers have supported the CCA program indirectly by directly supporting their employees to become and remain certified. Their commitment to the CCA program reinforces their commitment to their employees and their customers to provide the best service possible through a highly trained and qualified staff. It is also reinforcing their commitment to provide advice that is both economical and environmentally sound for the farmer clients that they serve. It is truly a great success story for production agriculture.

By Steve Dlugosz, CCA, 2004 Chairman, Int'l Certified Crop Adviser program

Agriliance, Indianapolis, IN
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Author:Dlugosz, Steve
Publication:Agri Marketing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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