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National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC).

Increasing complexities in regulation, technology, the marketplace--nearly everywhere we turn--practically demand that we seek expertise in specific areas to ensure business vitality.

Certainly that's the case in the agriculture industry. Crop consultants and researchers have become invaluable assets to growers, from relaying the latest in environmental requirements to staying abreast of the impact of plant disease impact worldwide. That's in addition, naturally, to managing pest and plant diseases, enhancing yields, ensuring soil vitality season after season and more.

The impact of these ag professionals is vast: The 495 independent consultants and researchers who comprise NAICC, for example, directly influence management decisions on more than 27 million crop acres throughout the U.S.!

Experts in crop care, integrated crop and pest management, contract research, biotechnology, sustainable ag and more, these consultants cover a wide range of crops, including corn, soybeans, cotton, alfalfa, wheat, citrus, rice, fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Each consultant is also an expert in technology, in part to maximize business efficiency, but also to help ensure their clients are able to harness the technology at their fingertips.

A survey of NAICC members performed three years ago (light years when it comes to technological advancements!) indicated that the majority of members correspond with clients via e-mail, often from the cab of a truck. Electronic reporting, GIS, cell phones and other handheld devices are routinely used to ensure accuracy and expediency.

NAICC plays a role in ensuring members are up to date with technological advancements through events like the Alliance's upcoming annual meeting, which will include an emerging technologies session.

Researchers and consultants leverage the Internet heavily to keep rural America abreast of global issues that could affect growers, such as Asian soybean rust. Consultants also now more than ever network with colleagues around the globe, learning new techniques and expanding resources. NAICC's membership reflects this increased globalization, with a growing number of members from countries outside the U.S.

Product recommendations area consultants have most relied upon, have increased their complexity in recent years, too, with more regulatory controls, a growing array of integrated management solutions and new products.

In response, consultants and researchers steep themselves in research trials, seminars, workshops, sales presentations and more to keep abreast of the latest solutions. Their objectivity and "cutting edge" insight, along with a massive network that can be called upon for "on the job" insight, help ensure their clientele is provided the best possible recommendation for their specific needs.

The real measurement of these efforts comes into play not only in clients' fields, but in neighboring spreads. A 2004 study of NAICC members indicated that 80% of respondents' prescriptions affect decisions made by non-clients--a testament to the credibility of consultants and researchers.

Whether directly or indirectly influencing ag processes, consultants and researchers' impact is only expected to grow in coming years as growers face increased complexities in the field, market, among regulatory agencies and more. And organizations like NAICC will be expected to ensure their members are prepared.

By Allison Jones, Exec VP, Collierville, TN
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Comment:National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC).(MARKETING TO THE PROFESSIONALS)
Author:Jones, Allison
Publication:Agri Marketing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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