The Evergreen FS facility in McLean County hosted a notable visitor this week: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Perdue toured the Chenoa facility as part of his Midwest “Back to Our Roots” RV tour. After the visit, Perdue tweeted: “Evergreen FS, Chenoa FS Plant. Bulk storage of crop protectants, seed, etc. Extremely clean.”
Kendall Miller, Evergreen FS general manager, led the tour, also attended by GROWMARK CEO Jim Spradlin and Rick Nelson, GROWMARK board vice chairman. They discussed issues ranging from the Renewable Fuel Standard to nutrient management. U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, was also on site. “We found him to be very conversational and interested in our operation,” Spradlin said. “He had a remarkable understanding of what we do. He had a genuine and sincere appreciation for the farmers in the Midwest and our ability to grow crops, and for the role FS plays in that process. It was a pleasure to get the opportunity to host him, and we appreciate that he and Congressman Shimkus had the interest in stopping.”
The roughly 40-minute tour included various stops at the facility, including:
* The plant’s containment and load-out facilities. “The message we sought to deliver was farmers need a wide variety of effective chemistry to avoid resistance issues,” Spradlin said. “When it comes to new and existing crop protection products, we really desire a timely and science-based approval process. I think that resonated well with the secretary.”
* Bulk fuel facility. Perdue learned about the customers served, how Evergreen FS employees load and unload fuel in a contained environment, along with how they handle biodiesel. They also explained the need for a “consistent, predictable and transparent Renewable Fuel Standard implementation,” Spradlin said.
“We make planning decisions based on market signals and program consistency. That’s why it’s important to our operation,” he said. Officials also mentioned the importance of infrastructure improvements on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, including the addition of 1,200-foot locks.
Perdue “reiterated the president’s commitment to that, to infrastructure improvements, and he agreed river transportation was vital to being competitive in bulk commodity shipping,” Spradlin said.
* Anhydrous ammonia facility. Perdue learned about safety precautions taken at the facility and the safety management reporting process. GROWMARK and Evergreen FS officials advocated for OSHA to use a traditional rulemaking process that calls for stakeholder input and public comment periods, Spradlin said.
Officials also explained the 4R4U partnership with the Illinois Farm Bureau.
Also, watch more about Secretary Sonny's visit with Illinois Farm Burea below and read the FarmWeek story about his visit with local farmers here.