Posted September 15, 2013


5 Ways to Help a Farmer (and Yourself!)

Avon-  The sun is starting to set. The roadway is growing darker. A driver is traveling home and spots a combine about 400 feet ahead in the roadway... it happens hundreds of times during a busy harvest season in our
community. How long does the driver have to respond before impact? 

Well, if the car is traveling at 50 mph, and the combine is traveling at approximately 20 mph, the answer is less than 10 seconds to impact... so about 5 seconds to react. 5 seconds. Not long at all.

If you live or travel in a rural community on a regular basis, please be aware that farmers and suppliers will soon be working to get equipment moved, crops harvested, trucks loaded and field work done in a very short window of time.

With the increased activity, your Co-Alliance branch professionals remind you to be extra alert on the roads.  In particular, Co-Alliance Risk Manager Shawn Lambert provides 5 ways you can help.

1)  Plan for Slow-Moving Vehicles: Be aware of farm equipment and trucks on the road with you for the next several weeks. Save yourself stress by planning ahead to allow for equipment that is required to operate at speeds less than 35 mph. Alternate your route or plan ahead.

2) Allow Plenty of Distance: Today's equipment is typically larger (wider and longer) than most vehicles on the road. Use caution when approaching or passing. In particular, avoid tail-gating because you're likely to be in one of the many blind spots for the equipment operator.

3) Stay Cool So They Can Stay Cool:  Your patience helps farmers and operators focus on the task at hand; a safe harvest. Causing an accident with these vehicles will likely mean significant damage, create health issues and dramatically affect your insurance rates. It is not worth it to hurry.

4) Educate Your Children: Youngsters are fascinated by the noise, size and power of big machinery. Please also make them aware of the potential dangers of this equipment. If there is farming activity near your home, make sure they know exactly how far away they must be from the action to maintain a safe distance.

5) Don't Take It for Granted:  You're very busy; headed to an office or work environment where you'll provide for your family. These growers and agricultural professionals are, too. They do not intend to frustrate you. They intend to harvest a crop that will feed the nation and the world. Thanks to their work, Americans continue to enjoy the least expensive, most abundant food in the world. Keep that in perspective, and let's share the road safely this harvest.


Posted June 3, 2013

josh c



Students from all over the Co-Alliance service area received awards. The list and their home schools are provided:

  • McKenzie Bear (parents Chuck Bear and Sherri Spurlock-Watson) Danville High School, Hendricks County
  • Levi Chitty (parents Walter and Becky), Frontier High School, White County
  • Josh Collisi (parents David and Jane) North Putnam High School, Putnam County
  • Jordan Crum (parents John and Tina) Clinton Central High School, Clinton County
  • Kayla Cunningham (parents Rod and Angie) Tipton High School, Tipton County
  • Michael Dussel (parents Mike and Kari) Ross Beatty Cassopolis High School, Cassopolis, MI
  • Luke Everett (parents Doug and Nanette) Lebanon High School, Boone County
  • Brett Farrell (parents Gary and Debbie) Delphi High School, Carroll County
  • Aubrey Fleck (parents Dirk and Susan) North White High School, White County
  • Cameron Guernsey (parents Bruce and Kelli) Western Boone High School, Boone County
  • Michael Herr (parents David and Erin) Lebanon High School, Boone County
  • Mallory Huffer (parents JB and Marna) Rossville High School, Clinton County
  • Braydon Kitchel (parents Ladd and Kim) Carroll Jr Sr High School, Carroll County
  • Charlie Miller (parents Doug and Anita) Miami Trace High School, Fayette OH
  • Charles Minich (parents James and Valerie) LaPorte High School, LaPorte County
  • Barbara Sears (parents John and Denise) Miami Trace High School, Fayette OH
  • Ethan Truax (parents Hal and Susan) homeschooled, Hendricks County
  • Kylie Wagoner (parents Scott and Michelle) Carroll Jr Sr High School, Carroll County
  • Hayden Wilder (parents David and Andrea) TriCounty High School, Jasper County
  • Emily Wyrick (parents Tim and Elizabeth) Clinton Central High School, Clinton County

Bright Future:

Co-op Presents $20,000 in Academic Scholarships

North Putnam High School's Josh Collisi (pictured) was one of 20 students to receive a Solutions Scholarship.

Avon-  For the sixth consecutive year, local students received a significant boost to their college funds.  Farmer-owned Co-Alliance LLP, which serves energy and agribusiness customers across Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, has awarded 20 Solutions Scholarship awards to students in the company's trade area.

Co-Alliance created the scholarship program to benefit the children and grandchildren of local cooperative members who belong to Midland Co-op, IMPACT Co-op, LaPorte County Co-op, Frontier Co-op and Excel Co-op, and announced the awards recently.

Recipient Josh Collisi, a graduating senior from North Putnam High School near Roachdale, credits his Dad, David, a first-generation farmer, for his love of farming. Despite obstacles, he says, "My Dad continued his path of pursuing his dreams... not only did his tenacity eventually pay off, but it made him the honest and hardworking man he is today."  Josh plans to study agriculture at Purdue. "The agribusiness field must grow substantially... to support future population needs," he observes. "I want to bring knowledge back to the family farm and our community, to strengthen and build on what my Dad has started and inspire future generations to pursue this reward field."

The one-time awards are for $1,000 each, and recipient families have been notified by mail or at school award programs. The company pledges to deliver 20 awards every year.  Co-Alliance CEO Kevin A. Still views the investment as another example of the company's commitment to community and also to rural youth. "These students show tremendous potential. Their dedication and passion to lead can be seen in their essays and in their achievements. We anticipate a very bright future for these young people," he said.  "It has been our pleasure over the years to welcome many of these same Solutions Scholarship students back to Co-Alliance through our Internship and Field Scouting Programs. They have demonstrated through their aggressive pursuit of their goals that they have much offer... and we are happy to play a role in their educational development."

Braydon Kitchel, a senior at Carroll Junior Senior High School received his award last month and also plans to study at Purdue University in the fall. He not only has an impressive list of academic and extracurricular involvements, he also has a deep rooted love of the ag industry. "Some would say my hometown is right in the middle of a corn field," he wrote. "I can't argue with that, because it really is. Farmers in my community take great pride in what they do... I wouldn't want to live anywhere else." Asked why he wants to return to the family farm, he says, "I want to contribute to the future of ag in Indiana, and in the United States. I will enter the ag field with my grandpa, my community and my country on my mind, and I will do my best to improve and expand this field in order to benefit them all."

Congratulations to all 2013 Scholars, listed here. 



Union Mills Hub Construction: Progress!

Posted April 1, 2013

All you have to do is rise up to a vantage point in the elevator to see the progress being made by persistent Northern Indiana work crews on this new dry fertilizer hub under construction at Union Mills. The $5.2 million building project  includes a 21,000-ton warehouse, an 800-ton per hour rail dump pit and a 250-ton per hour blend system for output. Dry fertilizer from Co-Alliance helps farmers in LaPorte County and the surrounding area produce their crop, and access to product will be a lot easier once this hub construction is complete. The work crews are putting in long hours here, as is the Co-Alliance staff.

Their progress is impressive, because, as residents know, weather conditions for constructing the cooperative's dry fertilizer hub have been anything but dry... and anything but cooperative!

Says Site Manager Brian Gall, "It has been challenging at times, but the project is still on track and meeting expectations. Crews are building up the rail pit area now and concrete has been poured so that guests can better visualize what we know is in store on the site. We're extremely excited about this expansion, and making this investment in LaPorte County." 

The facility, on the same property on County Road 800 South as the Union Mills Co-op Branch, will be fully automated and staffed by two employees.  The Hub will be accessed by nearby Co-Alliance Branches, as well as growers who are already familiar with the expansive retail fertilizer and grain operation that has served local farmers here for decades. Co-Alliance Agronomy Vice President Mark Baldwin predicts that the facility will be fully operational in the fall, with construction expected to be completed by October 2013. "All along, our plan for this Hub has been to help ensure supply of product for local farmers here. The facility will have unit train capacity for both potash and phosphates, plus the ability to store other products such as urea, and ammonium sulfate for blending," he said.

Co-Alliance CEO Kevin A. Still notes, "We've seen the growth and success at our Scircleville Fertilizer Hub, which we built in Clinton County just a few years ago. This operation will be similar in size and capabilities. By building it to the most progressive, state-of-the-art specifications, we're looking forward to the most efficient operation and an excellent opportunity for market growth."


Co-Alliance is absolutely committed to the safety and protection of our company workers who handle approximately 60 million bushels a year at 15 regional elevators. We are also committed to helping customers and families adopt safe grain handling practices on the farm.

The good news?

Documented grain entrapment stats in the US dropped considerably in the last year... from 51 cases in 2010 to 27 in 2011. There are many reasons for the drop... greater education, training, and a drier harvest which reduced the temptation of growers to climb into a bin.

The not-so-good news?  safe
It still happens.

70% of entrapments occur on the farm, and 100% could be prevented with proper safe practices. Co-Alliance's Safety & Risk Manager Shawn Lambert offers the following reminders:

1. Make it a rule on your farm: do not enter a grain bin without procedures, training and the proper equipment.
2. Never work alone in a bin - if entry is required, have a stand-by attendant in constant visual contact and a communication plan (radios, hand signals).
3. Ensure adequate ventilation.
4. Shut down/lock out all equipment during a bin entry.
5. Never put yourself a grain engulfment situation.
6. Never enter a bin when there is flowing grain.
7. Use extreme caution when bridging conditions are present.
8. Have a rescue plan in place.

The unfortunate reality is, that if steps such as these are not implemented, there will be no rescue... your local fire department will be completing a recovery! 

Please communicate with every family member, worker and visitor to your farm. Thank you.

Co-op Pays $10 M in Patronage


 farmer directors

Your Elected Co-Alliance Farmer Directors

   Your team at Co-Alliance is proud to report that the 2011 business year concluded with record sales and marketing volume, and the return of record levels of patronage refunds to shareholders.
   Total sales and grain marketing for Co-Alliance LLP exceeded $1.012 billion, and net income was $26.7 million for year-end August 31, 2011.
   Cash patronage, which is a return paid to share-holding members based on the amount of business they do with the co-op, reached $10 million this year, and each of the five partnering co-ops indicate this is a record achievement. In addition, the co-ops returned $1 million in equity redemption to their oldest loyal members.
   In the last four years, approximately $30 million has been returned to growers via patronage. "We are thankful for your business, and this year in particular, growers can see the strengths we have working together," reported Co-Alliance CEO Kevin A. Still at the regional annual meetings for shareholders. "These are the synergies we gain working in cooperation on behalf of local growers," he said.  Your local co-op director is ready to visit with you and answer any questions you may have about this cooperative you own. Members are also invited to contact CEO Kevin A. Still at (317) 745-4491 any time. Thank you!

Dozens of Local Couples Attend Progressive Farmer Conference


 mpk at prog farmer 

CEO Kevin Still, Michele Payn-Knoper
and Board President Dan Coapstick

More than four dozen couples were invited to be special guests of Co-Alliance LLP at the company's Progressive Farmer Conference in Indianapolis recently. Agenda topics included weather intelligence and modeling, SPCC compliance, safety and risk management, understanding the role of co-ops and members, and an interactive workshop on ag advocacy by nationally recognized speaker Michele Payn-Knoper. The Progressive Farmer Conference is an investment Co-Alliance makes in local growers who represent significant business to the organization.

Chad Parker, recently named Deputy Administrator of the USDA's Cooperative Development Office, flew in from Washington, DC, to applaud the local farmers for being active in their local co-op.  Parker studies all cooperatives across the nation and identifies success trends... many of which he reported seeing within Co-Alliance. "Our research statistics have shown that strong co-ops are good for communities," he said. "When the co-op disappears, prices go up and competition goes down. Co-ops like this one were formed for a reason. Make it stronger by getting involved. Be informed. If you owned a grocery store, you'd shop there. You own this co-op, and I've done some research before coming here today. It is a good one. Take advantage of it."

In addition to afternoon presentations, there was ample time for fellowship, meals, shopping and after-dinner entertainment provided by Dennis Regan, a comedian familiar to many thanks to his David Letterman and Comedy Central appearances. According to repeat attendees Kevin and Jessica Walker, the event is well worth the effort to attend. The couple traveled from their Scircleville-area farm in Clinton County. Said Jessica, "Our success can be summed up in the connections we foster and nurture... There is no doubt about it; our relationship (with Co-Alliance) is symbiotic.  We need each other to be successful and maximize potential to thrive in this new era of agriculture!"

First-time guests Jim and Amy Paarlberg, agreed. The Paarlbergs farm in northern Indiana, and do business with Co-Alliance's Rolling Prairie agronomy branch. "We enjoyed the speakers, and could relate to the same concerns as other growers here. I especially appreciated safety and risk information, since that topic is always at the top of my mind here on the farm," said Jim, a father of six. Amy added, "It was a good reminder to hear the presentation on ag advocacy, which prompted us all to consider how we can take responsibility and do more to positively position the role of agriculture in the non-farm community around us."

As a partnership of five farmer-owned local cooperatives, Co-Alliance LLP serves the needs of thousands of active members and customers across Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. The core business units are agronomy, energy, grain marketing and swine animal nutrition. Top leadership of each division was present at the Conference to visit with guests on an informal basis. "Building relationships and having a comfortable working relationship with your Co-Alliance team, from CEO to field staff, is important to all of us," said host Kevin A. Still. As CEO of the now billion-dollar supply and grain marketing operation, Still reports that the annual farmer conference is a highlight of the business year. "We began hosting this event for progressive young couples in our trade area five years ago, and we're pleased that our guests continue to put a priority on returning to study and strengthen their operations each year," he noted. "Together, we are learning the strategies and information we all need to stay on the forefront of agriculture."


Sheriff Burns and Mike Titus

Filling a Need


Sheriff Tony Burns was pleased to receive an award from Co-Alliance's Mike Titus recently. Mike is a member of the Safety and Risk Management team at Co-Alliance.The funds (a matching grant from Co-Alliance and Land O Lakes) are dedicated to the local K9 program that helps keep Carroll County safe. The work of police dogs is extremely important... especially in keeping schools and rural areas free from drugs. We're glad to do our part.  

$1,000 Award to Carroll County 4-H


Joanne Lytton is passionate about 4-H and the life lessons today's 4-Hers are learning. "As an organization, 4-H is focusing on encouraging youth  to be the best they can be ... we're championing the National 4-H Join the Responsibility Revolution among our participants... and here in Carroll County, we think that is a great campaign," she said earlier this week.

"A responsible 4-H'er is a leader, a good student, involved in activities and ultimately a quality future worker who contributes to local business and local communities," she said.

Employees at the local farm co-op, Co-Alliance LLP, could not agree more. Co-Alliance's Cory Cocanower is a Carroll County resident, and has worked with local 4-H'ers as a 4-H Shooting Sports Leader for the past six years. He is a volunteer Joanne knows well, "Cory has worked enthusiastically in our Shooting Sports shotgun discipline, and we appreciate his commitment to safe, responsible programming for about 150 kids who enjoy the Shooting Sports 4-H program. Our program is thriving because of volunteers like Cory," she said.

Dozens of Co-Alliance employees not only volunteer their time in our trade area, but the company also provides free supplies and financial support to 4-H causes and programs in more than two dozen counties. Cocanower recently presented $1,000 to Lytton to be earmarked for 4-H Responsibility Revolution programs. The funds were a matching grants gift made possible by Co-Alliance and Land O'Lakes.

Proud to Sponsor SWCD Meeting


Co-Alliance is a sponsor of the upcoming Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation District (IASWCD) 69th Annual Conference. This event draws Indiana's leading conservationists to meet, share ideas and prepare for the future. With donations from business partners like Co-Alliance, the IASWCD is able to offer this unique three-day event... providing training and information and acknowledgement for outstanding conservation efforts.

Put Bob's Expertise to Work for You


Co-Alliance's Bob Leavens


As Commodity Risk Manager, Bob Leavens helps company leadership and customers make more informed business decisions. According to Co-Alliance CEO Kevin A. Still, Bob's expertise is a great asset to the organization. "Having Bob monitor and filter what is critical each day puts us in a better position to make decisions," he says. "For example, in just minutes, today's market fluctuations can mean over $1 million one way or the other on diesel inventory for a company our size. It is advantageous to have someone focused on the activity with our best interests in mind."  "I work with fuel contracting quite a bit," says Bob, "I also e-mail a brief summary to growers twice a day to keep them informed," he says. In our 24/7 news cycle, subscribers use Bob's insights to cut through the hype and focus on what matters. "I watch for reports and monitor action across all sectors... commodities, weather, industry, government. I also keep an eye on geopolitical action that may potentially impact our business."

Offering these valuable insights and commentary free to Co-Alliance customers is one more way the company strives to help growers succeed. Interested? Simply e-mail today.

Vince Seward Named Bringhurst Manager


 Vince Seward


Area resident Vince Seward has been named Manager of the Co-Alliance Bringhurst Agronomy Plant. A Purdue University graduate with an Ag Economics degree, Vince brings more than 25 years of professional agricultural cooperative experience to his position. He was most recently working within the Liquid Fuels for Co-Alliance in the company's main office. The transition to Bringhurst Branch Manager will bring Seward back to Carroll County (in lieu of the Avon main office) where Vince has resided for years. Prior to the merger of Excel Co-op into the Co-Alliance partnership several years ago, Vince was a familiar name to area farmers as Energy Manager in Carroll County for Excel.

At Bringhurst, which is located just off State Road 75 south of Flora, Vince will oversee the full-service agronomy operations of the extensive plant. He will also manage the experienced employee team there. Vince is already making appointments and visiting with local growers. He looks forward to the busy fall application season, and assisting growers as they finalize soil testing plans and the seed selection process. In addition to a staff experienced in application, soil sampling, technology and seed expertise, the Bringhurst plant boasts Co-Alliance's only T-Reactor system. This unit converts phosphoric acid and NH3 into 10-34-0 and 11-37-0 for retail and wholesale.

Farmers Grow Communities... It is Easy!


You can help secure a $2,500 donation for your local community... nominate a worthy nonprofit organization for the 2nd annual America's Farmers Grow Communities campaign. The deadline is November 30. Unlike the thousands of dollars donated by Co-Alliance each year in local communities, these awards are provided by Monsanto and will be announced in January. Farmers in the Co-Alliance trade area can apply by logging on to // or calling (877) 267-3332.

Grow to Give: 1.6 Million Pounds of Potatoes


Thanks to Lennard Ag's Grow To Give program, more than 1.6 million pounds of potatoes will provide 4 million servings of nutritious potatoes to local residents in need. Grow To Give is the program started by the Lennard family farm operation (growing based in Sturgis, Michigan) to distribute potatoes to food pantries throughout the middle United States. A full 100% of the produce grown is donated, and local farm co-op Co-Alliance LLP has been honored to donate some of the required input materials needed to help make the program pos­sible.

Co-Alliance Schoolcraft Manager Kent Feldman ap­preciates the Grow To Give campaign because it aligns with the Co-Alliance core philosophy of giving back close to home. "Plus the opportunity to showcase how the Lennards produce 1.6 million pounds of potatoes on 40 acres of land is a testament to the efficiency and professionalism of today's farmer."

Potatoes are easy to prepare and versatile. They're rich in complex carbo­hydrates that can supply energy, with one medium-sized potato providing about 150 calories. That same potato has about 5 grams of fiber, and a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. Some people don't know that pota­toes contain more potassium than any other fresh vegetable in the produce department - even more than bananas.

According to Nutritionist Shereen Jegtvig's blog, "Potatoes also contain substantial amounts of vitamins C and B6, which are vital for blood clotting, wound healing, a strong immune system, normal nervous system function and for converting the food you eat to energy. There's also a substance called kukoamine found in potatoes that may help to lower blood pressure, although more research is necessary to know for sure."

Sounds like you can't go wrong when you put a potato on your plate. Co-Alliance believes you also can't go wrong when you help put a healthy, nutritious potato on someone else's plate. Congratulations to Co-Alliance customer (and Grow To Give partner) Lennard Ag on the success of this program. Want to know more? Visit


Wrapping Up the County Fair Season


Avon IN-- Fair season is in full swing, and your Co-Alliance teams can likely be found at the fairgrounds... offering their support as parents, community volunteers and as representatives of this farmer-owned co-op. For decades, co-op staff have been actively involved in the County Fairs... that's because we really do believe 4-H brings out the very best in agricultural youth.

This year, the company was happy to provide thousands of dollars in supplies across our trade area, including stall cards, back tags, t-shirts, meal donations, giveaway prizes, fuel and other items Youth Educators need as they work with 4Hers. We are Sponsors of the Day in Boone, Carroll, Clinton, Clay, Morgan and White Counties. Our teams also serve up pancakes for hundreds of tired kids and their families as we help host Clean Up Day at several fairs. The company staff also logs hundreds of volunteer hours.

One of the most lasting ways Co-Alliance helps support 4-H is through financial support of the statewide 4-H Foundation. Our company and partner organizations have donated thousands of dollars to Foundation in recent years. If you have not considered this worthy statewide cause, please visit // and find out more!  In addition to County Fair activities, Co-Alliance team members also show our pride at the Indiana State Fair, with volunteers manning the 4-H Foundation Booth.

The company provides biodiesel to power the Biodiesel Shuttle with premium CountryMark fuel, and we provide significant support to the Fair's World's Largest Drive Through Breakfast, working beside our fuel provider CountryMark to top off the tanks for visitors with cleaner burning ethanol blended fuels.  The ways our team wholeheartedly gives back demonstrate our commitment: Co-Alliance is proud to invest in 4-H.  


Propane On the Grow


Since this release was posted, Co-Alliance has also added route coverage in the Howard County area through the additional hiring of propane professional Jim Romack. For service in that area, contact Jim at (574) 967-4166.

Schoolcraft MI- Co-Alliance has expanded operations at the plant on US 131 in southern Michigan. Beginning this spring, Co-Alliance began operating a propane gas outlet on the site. The construction of the new facility is complete, and the local staff is ready to serve area home, farm, and commercial propane needs. As a company, Co-Alliance supplies more than 23 million gallons of propane gas to consumers every year. The new facility is located on US 131 between Three Rivers and Schoolcraft, and routes are established to serve customers in Kalamazoo, St Joseph, Van Buren and Barry Counties. The goal is to grow the Schoolcraft route by several million gallons, and to contribute to the local Schoolcraft economy through employee participation in local community events. Want propane in the Schoolcraft and surrounding area? Call (269) 679-5226. Just in time for summer, a fill station is being added to accommodate grilling and RV season needs.


Review of Patronage and Equity Returns to Members


Avon IN - There is strength in numbers. Once again, this adage proved true for area farmers who are members of the Co-Alliance partnership.  Total 2010 sales for the business exceeded $734 million, and net income after taxes was almost $20 million for year-end August 31, 2010. Patronage, which is a return paid to share-holding members based on the amount of business they do with the co-op, reached $9 million this year, and each of the five partnering co-ops indicate this is a record achievement. Of that amount, $7 million was paid back in cash.  In addition, the co-ops returned $1 million in equity redemption to their oldest loyal members. 

In the last three years, $18.7 million has been returned to growers in the form of patronage, and $3.6 million more has been returned by redeeming local equity. 

"We are thankful for your business, and this year in particular, growers can see the strengths we have working together," reported Co-Alliance CEO Kevin A. Still. In addition to highlighting the patronage and equity returns, Still focused on the advantages gained through combining staff talent, investing in seed hubs, creating regional alliances, proprietary technological developments and plans for a new centralized fertilizer hub.  "These are the synergies we gain working in cooperation on behalf of local growers," he said.