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Ohio Bill to Require Certification to Apply Fertilizer
Asmark Institute
May 12, 2014 

The Ohio House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 150 (SB 150), a bill that will now require one farmer per farm operation to be certified to apply fertilizer. “The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) and the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) have always taken the quality of Ohio’s water very seriously,” said Brent Hostetler, OCWGA president and Madison County farmer. “Both organizations have worked together through the entire process of this bill to assure that it addresses environmental needs, but does not include overly burdensome requirements for Ohio family farmers.”

“Moving forward, both organizations will continue to emphasize to legislators and agency officials the importance of practical, science-based solutions,” said Hostetler. Jerry Bambauer, OSA president and Auglaize County farmer, emphasized the need to fully understand this challenge before solutions can be implemented. “No one has a clear understanding of how exactly phosphorus is moving through the soil profile, or can explain why there are algae blooms in areas that don’t have agricultural activity near them,” Bambauer said.

For this reason, the Ohio Soybean Council, the Ohio Corn Marketing Program, the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program and many others, are supporting a $2 million research project with more than $1 million coming from Ohio farmers and other agricultural companies, that will measure edge-of-field phosphorus runoff and will show how phosphorus is used in agriculture, how it leaves farm fields and how much of it is actually entering Ohio’s waterways. 
 
 
Demanding a Warrant for an OSHA Inspection: Issues to consider
OSHA Training Blog
May 12, 2014 

Would you consent to a search of your entire household by a police officer who got a complaint about your barking dog but decided he wanted to poke his nose in all your closets and drawers to determine if you were breaking any other laws? I bet most of you would not consent to the search because you are aware of your constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause. Well, that same protection applies to the workplace too.

Many people do not realize that a company has the right to tell OSHA to get a warrant before being allowed to conduct an inspection on their site. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Marshall v. Barlow's, Inc. in 1978 that OSHA may not conduct warrantless inspections without an employer's consent. OSHA may, however, inspect the site after acquiring a judicially authorized search warrant based upon administrative probable cause (like the random selection of a company covered under one of the national emphasis programs) or upon evidence of a violation (such as a valid employee complaint).

So why would a company tell OSHA they must get a warrant to inspect? Sometimes it can take several days, even weeks, for an inspector to obtain a warrant. I am also aware of a rare case or two where OSHA left after being told to go get a warrant and they never came back to inspect. However, if that is your strategy for managing safety and health for your company’s employees, you probably ought to get into a different field. Also I once saw some statistics OSHA produced that showed companies who demanded a warrant and were subsequently inspected under the warrant received more citations and stiffer monetary penalties, on average, than companies who consented to the inspection without asking for a warrant. While correlation does not imply causation, that is one fact that should be kept in mind before sending OSHA away. Read more
 
 
ResponsibleAg Update
Asmark Institute
March 3, 2014 

On February 18, 2014 ARA and TFI announced plans to create ResponsibleAg, an independent, not-for-profit organization designed to support fertilizer retailers’ compliance with federal safety and security regulations. Under ResponsibleAg, retail fertilizer dealerships will have access to comprehensive inspections based on federal regulatory requirements. The inspections will be carried out by trained auditors who will have successfully completed an intensive training course based on the objectives of ResponsibleAg.

“While the vast majority of fertilizer retail businesses operate safely, securely and in compliance with federal regulations, we are acting out of an abundance of caution and concern for the well-being of workers and communities,” said TFI President Chris Jahn. “ResponsibleAg will verify compliance at more facilities and with greater speed than is currently being done by the multitude of federal agencies that regulate the nation’s fertilizer retailers, so we are choosing to act now rather than waiting for the next government inspection.”
 
“ResponsibleAg will help ensure existing regulations are conveyed and easily understood by fertilizer retailers,” said
ARA President & CEO Daren Coppock. “Retailers want to do the right thing, but overlapping, duplicative or potentially conflicting requirements make compliance a challenge. This program will help retailers by collecting the regulatory requirements into one standard, and offering them tools and information to ensure their facilities conform to all current federal regulations.”

ResponsibleAg will credential auditors who will inspect and verify individual facilities’ level of compliance with applicable federal regulations. Facilities that successfully complete assessments will be recognized for having done so. Any site that does not successfully complete an assessment will be provided a list of recommended corrective actions. Additionally, random quality assurance reviews to verify the assessments will be conducted by third party auditors.

TFI and ARA are each contributing $100,000 in startup capital for the organization, and the Asmark Institute is providing an ongoing contribution that provides for training programs, training facilities and administration of the ResponsibleAg website and database. Once established, ResponsibleAg will be funded by registration fees paid by participating fertilizer storage and handling inventory points and their suppliers. Auditor training costs will be funded by tuition paid by those seeking the ResponsibleAg auditor credential. Membership in TFI, ARA or any other organization is not a requirement for participation.

“ARA and TFI are committed to ResponsibleAg as a common sense approach to mitigating the potential of another accident like the one in West,” Coppock said. “Compliance needs to be the focus rather than a push for broad new regulations. The effort and resources retailers dedicate to compliance should be directed towards achieving the greatest level of safety and security possible for employees, first responders and the communities in which our members live and work.”
 

Safety & security guidelines for storage and transportation of ammonium nitrate at retail facilities
The Fertilizer Institute
March 3, 2014 

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) recently developed a guidance document on safety and security guidelines for the storage and transportation of ammonium nitrate at retail facilities. This guidance document, drafted with much industry input, is a great resource for all members who handle fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate. The guidance document is available in pdf format to all KARA members upon request.
 

Secretary Vilsack addresses Commodity Classic on farm bill
February 28, 2014 

Below is a transcript of U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s remarks as delivered to the Commodity Classic regarding the farm bill:

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. It's great to be back at Commodity Classic. And I want to start off this morning with a couple of thank yous to every single person in this audience and to producers around the country.

You know, we unfortunately in this country do not thank you all enough or as frequently as we should. We are a food secure nation because of your hard work. Our families don't have to worry about where the next meal is coming from. You produce it. We don't have to worry about whether we have to rely on someone else for our food. Virtually everything we need to feed our families is grown and raised in this great country.

You provide us economic security because we spend so little of our paychecks and wages for food because of the efficiencies of your operations. Virtually nowhere else in the world can you get out of a grocery store and still have money in your pockets from your paycheck the way you can in the United States. Read more.
 
 
OSHA addresses fertilizer safety in letter
February 12, 2014 
 
Please click here to read a letter from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding safe manufacturing, storage, distribution and use of ammonium nitrate.

As requested by OSHA, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) is distributing this information so our members are informed about the resources OSHA has made available and more fully understand how the agency is addressing ammonium nitrate safety following the West Fertilizer accident. 
 
If you have any questions, please contact Michael Kennedy by telephone at (202) 595-1706 or via e-mail at michael@aradc.org
 
 
Senate passes 2014 Farm Bill
February 6, 2014 

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed a new comprehensive farm bill that reauthorizes agriculture subsidies, rural conservation, federal nutrition assistance and energy related provisions over the next five years. The farm bill passed with a final vote of (68-32) and with the bill now passed the House & Senate, the president is expected to sign the legislation into law as soon as it lands on his desk.

Click here for a link to the 2014 Farm Bill that includes a 1-page summary document.
 
 
Seeking comments on new safety standard for NH3 application equipment
January 3, 2014

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) are working with the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers to develop a new safety standard for anhydrous ammonia agricultural application equipment. The working group is reaching out to stakeholders for input on the standard. Your input is being requested on any items you feel are incorrect or missing from the draft document. The working group will review your comments and provide feedback.

Click here to the following link to download the draft safety standard, the ASABE comment template, and general instructions on filing your comments. For questions on this new safety standard initiative, contact Travis Tsunemori with ASABE at (269)-932-7009.

Please ensure your comments are submitted before February 28, 2014.
 
 
OSHA requests comments on NH3 storage and handling compliance burdens 
The Fertilizer Institute
December 26, 2013 

Today, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a Federal Register Notice requesting comment on the compliance burdens associated with its Anhydrous Ammonia Storage and Handling Standard, 29 C.F.R. 1910.111. This notice is required periodically by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act. You can find the federal Anhydrous Ammonia Storage and Handling regulations here.

OSHA estimates 203,000 entities are subject to the standard and that 345 annual burden hours are associated with the information collection requirements contained in the standard. The burdens identified by OSHA are: nameplates and markings for certain anhydrous ammonia containers (1910.111(b)(3)); and nameplates for refrigerated containers (1910.111 (b)(4)). 

OSHA is seeking comments on the following:
  • Whether the proposed information collection requirements are useful and necessary for the proper performance of OSHA’s functions;
  • The accuracy of OSHA’s time and cost estimate for the information collection, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; 
  • The quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and,
  • Ways to minimize the burdens on employers who must comply with the standard.
If you would like to submit comments through KARA, please submit your comments to Randy Stookey, at randy@kansasag.org, no later than January 21, 2014.
 

AFIA: USDA announces plans to re-propose Food Safety Modernization Act rules
December 19, 2013

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans to re-propose the Food Safety Modernization Act rules on produce safety and preventive controls for human food (which includes feed). FDA plans to propose revised rule language and seek comment on it, allowing the public the opportunity to provide input on FDA’s new thinking.

There may be other revisions to the proposed rules; the scope of the revised proposals, on which FDA will seek further comment, will be determined after FDA completes the initial review of written comments. FDA believes that this additional step to seek further input on revised sections of the proposed rules that need significant adjustment is critical to fulfilling their continuing commitment to getting these rules correctly written for implementation.

USDA’s plan is to publish revised proposed rule language by early summer 2014. Read more on this announcement here.
 

Agriculture spies target seed technology, feds say
USA TODAY
December 12, 2013

A corporate agriculture espionage case announced Thursday by federal prosecutors offered a glimpse into how at least seven Chinese men allegedly traveled across the Midwest to steal millions of dollars in seed technology.

The investigation revealed how the men used counter-surveillance techniques to shake FBI tails, but still had the seeds confiscated by law enforcement authorities as they tried to leave the country.

Mo Hailong, also known as Robert Mo, is accused of stealing trade secrets worth at least $30 million to $40 million, said Nicholas Klinefeldt, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. It's the first corporate agriculture espionage case of its kind in Iowa, officials said.

"The point is to call people out on this type of activity," Klinefeldt said. "So that people know about it, and so companies can take the right precautions to prevent it from happening again."

Mo, the only person charged or arrested, used an alias to tour DuPont Pioneer's headquarters in Johnston, Iowa, and Monsanto's research facility in Ankeny. He also attend a state dinner in which Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad welcomed Xi Jinping, the then-future president of China, back to the Iowa. Mo and others often met at farm in Illinois bought by Kings Nower Seed, a Chinese seed company for which they were spying, court documents show.

The charge against Mo comes in a state that has pushed to increase trade with China. In October, trade agreements worth an estimated $1 billion were signed by companies from Iowa and China's Hebei Province. Read more.
 

Reid says Senate will not extend farm law
Associated Press
December 10, 2013

Government dairy subsidies that affect the cost of a gallon of milk are set to expire at the end of the year as farm-state lawmakers said Tuesday that they do not expect to have a new farm bill — or an extension of current law — before Jan 1.

Expiration of the current dairy subsidies triggers 1930s and 1940s law, outdated statutes that could upend the commercial dairy market and eventually cause the price of milk to rise. But Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, said she has assurances from the Agriculture Department that the price spikes would not happen before the end of January, and she and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, a Republican, say they hope to have a final farm bill deal by then.

The House and Senate have passed separate versions of the five-year, roughly $500 billion bill, but with widespread differences over crop subsidies and how much to cut food stamps.

"We will be ready to vote in January," Stabenow said after a meeting with Lucas Tuesday.

House Speaker John Boehner said last week that he favors an extension, and House leaders have reserved space on their agenda this week for extending the current law.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid balked at that plan. "Let them vote on it. We're not going to do it," he said Tuesday.

Stabenow said a short-term extension could allow subsidies called direct payments to continue. Those subsidies are paid to farmers whether they plant or not and have come under political fire from conservatives and others who have lobbied for less spending on farm programs. Both the House and Senate farm bills would eliminate the subsidies and create new ones. Read more.