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Tops in crops

Tipton Farmers Cooperative’s Todd Rankin named Tennessee CCA of the Year
Story by: Sarah Geyer 3/22/2019

Todd Rankin, lead agronomist for Tipton Farmers Cooperative, has been named the Tennessee Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) of the Year by the organization’s state board of directors. He was recognized for this achievement on Feb. 7 at the West Tennessee Grain and Soybean Producers Conference in Dyersburg.

“I’m very honored that my peers would think of me as deserving [of this recognition], says Todd, who has 20 years of agronomy experience, including 17 with Co-op. “For as long as I’ve been doing this, I try to treat every field I walk into as if it were mine.”

In letters to the organization’s selection committee, nominees commended the agronomist’s tireless work ethic and extensive knowledge.

“There is no doubt in my mind that many growers count heavily on Todd’s assistance for each crop year,” wrote Stan Anderson, assistant manager for Tipton Farmers Co-op and member of the Tennessee CCA board of directors. “He spends many hours receiving calls, walking fields, and whatever else it takes to complete his job as he sees it. Over the past few years, Todd has participated in several ag science panels, some of which would be considered rare opportunities and very selective in nature.”

Clay Kelley, a long-time customer and member of Tipton Farmers Co-op, expressed similar sentiments.

“When you see Todd in the summer months, he’s the guy with the wet pant legs and green stains on his shoes,” wrote the managing partner of Kelley and Kelley Farms in Burlison. “If you have an issue, he will find out why and many times catch it before it becomes serious. [He is] always teaching the how and the why. Todd has been my friend and consultant for 18 years, and I would hate to know I had to start another crop without him.”

Todd also received lofty praise outside the Co-op family. Dr. Gregory Stapleton with BASF Corporation spoke highly of his colleague’s dedication to his profession and his personal integrity.

“I have had the opportunity to write almost 40 references, recommendations, and nominations in the last 24 years and have never been so proud as to have the opportunity to write this letter for Mr. Rankin,” the senior technical service representative said in his nomination. “[He] is extremely conscientious; he works hard and accomplishes much. He has excellent communication skills and presents himself well in front of all audiences in an industry that demands it. Todd has a sincere interest in agriculture and is a true servant and advocate for the industry and all associated with it.”

Todd’s collaborative work with Dr. Larry Steckel, UT Extension weed specialist, takes the agronomist’s contributions beyond Tipton County to positively impact growers across the state and region.

“One of Todd’s strongest points is how dedicated he is to helping his customers with pest management decisions,” wrote the professor of plant sciences for the university. “He actually makes boot prints in the field weekly [throughout the growing season] on every [customer] field. Because of this, he has helped me identify some of the very first Palmer amaranth that we later confirmed was PPO resistant and the very first [glyphosate resistant] barnyardgrass and Johnsongrass. His work ethic to be in the field, coupled with his sharp eye, [have] not only helped us design new weed management plans for a budding herbicide resistance issue but has also helped detect other insect pests that typically get their first start in Tennessee in the counties that he serves.”

The CCA program was developed in 1992 by the American Society of Agronomy to recognize agronomists who meet the organization’s standard of knowledge and ethics. Obtaining this professional accreditation requires rigorous testing and continuing education, according to Luther Smith, director of professional development and business relations for the national organization.

“It’s a tough, tough program based on rigorous training and testing,” says Bill Epps, manager of Tennessee Farmers Cooperative’s agronomy division. “The two exams are extremely difficult, and the continuing education requirements keep the agronomists up-to-date and informed.”

Only 150 people in Tennessee hold the CCA designation, and of those, 63 are employed by Tennessee Farmers Cooperative or its member Co-ops, more than any other company in the state. Rankin, who has held this certification since 2004, is the sixth recipient of the Tennessee CCA of the Year award.

“This certification designates those among the top in their industry,” says Epps. “For Todd to be recognized as the top CCA in the state is a true accomplishment and real honor.”

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