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In agriculture today, the stakes are very high to succeed, and to do it now. Without an eye to the future, decisions made today could be very detrimental to what the industry must accomplish over the long term. Fischer is a major proponent of forwarding agriculture in a sustainable manner and providing opportunities and choices for the generations to come. His industry colleagues acknowledge how Fischer's leadership is grounded in today, yet focused on tomorrow.

"While all senior executives in the ag chem business are great marketing professionals - such is essential to survive in a competitive environment - Charlie has always seemed to have an extra sense of what is not only innovative and potentially productive for the customer, but what is practical," says Jay Vroom, executive director of CropLife America.

Vroom cites several examples of how Fischer's leadership has helped shape the industry in a positive manner. "As our industry began to struggle with how to embrace E-commerce, Charlie's counsel in industry circles was to be progressive, but to remember that some things that might work, like selling books to consumers over the Internet, might not directly transfer to the commercial trade of highly regulated farm inputs," Vroom recalls. "I think over time, his practical and balanced perspective, along with commitment to innovation, has stood the test of time on

E-commerce...while others have enjoyed less success in trying to force electronic trade into some corners of our business."

A sustainable future for agriculture is also deeply rooted in clear communication with the government. "Charlie has applied a basic marketing communications strategy to the industry's need to suggest government policy choices for the good of the industry. He's advocated that our industry work together as much as possible for the common good and the utility of our political friends," Vroom notes.

"When regulating pesticides and ag biotechnology, Charlie has always insisted that our lobbying approaches be grounded in sound science, but be presented in plain English form, so that policy leaders can understand the practical implications at the farm gate of the choices before them," Vroom comments.

Fischer's leadership abilities have also had global impact. Christian Verschueren, executive secretary of CropLife International, points out that since its launch in June 2001, Fischer has been instrumental in motivating and energizing the global network.

"He has been very active in promoting the new behavior, philosophy and messages of the new organization. He also knows the importance of inclusion, helping all stakeholders feel a part of the greater organization," Verschueren says. "He actively participates at numerous networking events where a wide variety of CropLife stakeholders have been present, and also enthusiastically participates in press briefings organized by CropLife International on the plant science industry. The latest briefing was held in Brussels in December 2001, where the focus was on industry's contributions to sustainable agriculture."

In his role of chairing the executive committee and general assembly of CropLife International, Fischer has remained a very visible leader. "Charlie always makes himself available for quotes, questions, and discussions on topical issues, which helps people feel involved and part of the Federation," Verschueren adds. "His participative management style helps everyone feel a part of the cause we are forwarding."

Industry leaders agree: Fischer is a strong believer in an integrated approach of the plant science industry, combining the respective strengths of both chemistry and biotechnology to contribute to sustainable agriculture.

"Charlie's vast experience in agriculture, along with his open and inclusive leadership style, have created a significant legacy for the crop protection industry," summarizes Jim Borel, president, DuPont Crop Protection and chairman of CropLife America. AM

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