OSHA’s issues citation to West Fertilizer
Please find the attached Citation And Notice Of Penalty
that West Fertilizer Co. received from OSHA on Oct. 9, 2013. The full penalty is $118,300.00, representing 24 itemized violations. Instructive in this notice is the fact that the majority of the violations were not necessarily tied to the explosion that occurred, but were basic items that were required under state and federal law which, in Kansas, would have been likely discovered during an annual inspection of the facility.
The Notice is also instructive regarding OSHA’s procedure to an inspection and filing a notice of violation, below:
- Uncontested Violations: within the time stated in the citation the regulated entity must (1) notify OSHA that it has corrected those violations and (2) pay all penalties assessed for the violations.
- Abatement Certification: Unless corrected during the inspection, the regulated entity must send an abatement certification letter to the OSHA area director, stating the date and method of abatement (corrective action taken) for each uncontested violation. A copy of the abatement certification must also be posted at the location where the violation occurred.
- Default Order: If the citation is not contested within 15 days, the citation becomes a final order by default. After which, the citation will not be reviewed by any other court or agency.
- Contested Violations: the regulated entity may (1) submit a written letter of intent to contest the violations, within 15 days of receiving the notice, to the Area Director that released the notice; and, (2) also request an informal settlement conference. You can contest.
- Informal Settlement Conference: During an informal settlement conference, the regulated entity may present evidence to mitigate the contested citation, the amount of the penalty, or both.
- Settlement Agreement: An informal settlement conference may lead to an informal settlement agreement of the penalties (without litigation).
- Publication: OSHA’s current policy is to publish all information related to alleged violations in a notice of violation on its website.
- Posting: federal law requires the regulated entity to immediately post a copy of the citation and notification of penalty in a prominent place where it will be readily observable by all affected employees (until the violation has been corrected but not less than 3 days).
- Discrimination against an Employee: federal law prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee for filing a complaint with OSHA.
State Fire Marshal finalizes explosive materials regulation with fertilizer exemption
The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has released a final permanent administrative regulation (K.A.R. 22-4-5) on explosive materials. The final regulation was published in the October 3, 2013 edition of the Kansas Register, which can be found here
at page 1217. The new regulations adopt by reference, and in part, the 2013 edition of the National Fire Prevention Association’s (NFPA) Explosive Materials Code 495.
In September, at a formal OSFM hearing on the proposed regulation, KARA staff filed joint comments (with the KCC) and appeared in person to request clarification of potential duplicative or conflicting regulation of ammonium nitrate (AN) and other fertilizers. Crop protection and input products handled by KARA members are currently regulated by multiple state and federal agencies. These regulations, collectively, apply to the products themselves and to the manner in which they are handled, stored, and transported. The addition of yet another layer of regulation of the same products had the potential to create duplicative or conflicting requirements on our members.
The State Fire Marshal, Doug Jorgensen, and his staff gave consideration to our concerns and our recommended language for avoiding duplicative regulation over fertilizers and fertilizer materials currently under the jurisdiction of the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA). We appreciate the State Fire Marshal’s efforts to insure that fertilizers and fertilizer materials, which might have otherwise been classified as “precursor chemicals” under the proposed regulation, will now be exempted from that classification. However, the language of the regulation requires handlers of ammonium nitrate to inform the state fire marshal, and local law enforcement, within 24 hours of discovering a theft of AN.
The OFSM regulations do not change existing requirements for the handling of fertilizers and fertilizer materials imposed by other state or federal agencies.
Responsible Ag Initiative
Following the April 17, 2013 accident in West, TX, the fertilizer and ag-chemical industry immediately came under new and heightened scrutiny by the media and state and federal regulators and legislators. In the wake of accident, the industry’s leading national affiliations - The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), proposed to create an industry-wide common code of practice, loosely modeled after the fertilizer code of practice adopted by the Canadian Fertilizer Institute.
The basic idea was that, through such a code of practice, the industry could self-regulate in order to ensure - as best as possible - that something like the West, TX incident did not happen again. A code of practice would also stand as a pre-emptive bulwark against new, duplicitous and unnecessary regulation by state and federal government regulators who may not have a firm grasp on the complexities of our industry.
It was out of this initial movement to create a code of practice that the ResponsibleAg initiative was developed. The goal of the ResponsibleAg initiative is to increase operational safety for our employees and communities by ensuring compliance with uniform safety guidelines for the handling, storage and distribution of fertilizer products through voluntary, third-party inspections. The initiative is also intended to ensure that our industry is both aware of, and able to confidently comply with, the sea of regulations on our industry.
How will it work?
ResponsibleAg will be staffed by an executive director and administrative staff, and will host a registration database and website. The Asmark Institute was selected to build the ResponsibleAg database and website, and agreed to administer the program free of charge. Participating retailers and suppliers will register with ResponsibleAg. Those participating retailers will then pay for an audit of their facility by a certified, independent, third-party auditor that has been certified by ResponsibleAg.
The audits, which will be structured as pass/fail, will consist of adherence to recognized best management practices and state and federal regulatory requirements. Retailers will receive a report of their audit along with a corrective action plan for any deficient areas. Each retailer’s audit information will then be entered into the ResponsibleAg database. For failed inspections, retailers will have the opportunity to remedy any deficiencies prior to re-inspection.
Participating suppliers will be able to access their retail customers’ audit scores in the ResponsibleAg database (upon authorization by the retailer). Each supplier will then be able to use the audit report to make an independent business judgment about whether to supply that retail customer with fertilizer product. Participating suppliers would be encouraged to adopt a policy to only ship to facilities that have passed an audit. Audits will be valid for a three-year period. Covered products will initially include ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia.
The ResponsibleAg audit will verify each facility’s compliance with a comprehensive list of regulatory requirements. To register your facility for a ResponsibleAg audit, you can complete a Comprehensive Risk Evaluation (CoRE) by calling the Asmark Institute at 270-926-4600. Completing CoRE will also allow you to conduct a self-audit of your facility prior to your ResponsibleAg audit.
Source: The Fertilizer Institute, Agricultural Retailers Association, and the Asmark Institute.
MKC and Frontier Ag, Inc. to discuss alliance
Frontier Ag, Inc. (Frontier Ag), a leading cooperative in northwest Kansas, and Mid Kansas Cooperative Association (MKC), a leading cooperative in central Kansas, have announced plans to evaluate the merit of potential business alliances between the two cooperatives.
Brent Linin, Board Chairman for Frontier Ag, commented Frontier Ag continually seeks ways to build additional value for its members. “When looking at culture and strategies, MKC and Frontier Ag appear to be very similar,” Linin said. “We have asked our management teams to evaluate what could be gained through business alliances between the two companies.”
“We are excited to investigate what opportunities may exist,” said CJ Blew, MKC Board Chairman. “Although both cooperatives have just completed strong years, we believe it is critical to continue to investigate business development opportunities to bring value to our memberships.”
Frontier Ag, with annual sales of $490 million, is a full-service cooperative, offering grain, feed, agronomy, energy, and transportation products and services to over 5,700 members in eleven (11) counties throughout northwest Kansas. MKC, with annual sales of $450 million, is a full-service cooperative offering grain, feed, agronomy and energy products and services to over 6,400 members in eleven (11) counties throughout central Kansas.
AGCO now accepting nominations for 2013 Operator of the Year
Hours-of-service Exemption Regulation
Recognizing the vital role of custom applicators in supporting the agricultural industry, AGCO Application Equipment is now accepting nominations for the 2013 Operator of the Year program.
Now in its eighth season, the Operator of the Year program pays tribute to top professional operators from the U.S. and Canada based on nominations from their ag retailers. A panel of judges from AGCO evaluates nominees based on their performance both on and off the field, including such criteria as skill, dedication, customer service and community involvement.
Ag retailers can submit nominations for 2013 Operator of the Year at http://search.applylikeapro.com
. Deadline for entries is Oct. 19, 2013.
OSHA Agenda Addresses I2P2, Silica, Combustible-Dust Standards
Society for Human Resource Management
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) intends to issue nine final and nine proposed rules in the next six to 12 months on matters ranging from record-keeping and confined spaces in construction to silica and beryllium exposures, according to the Department of Labor’s spring 2013 regulatory agenda, released July 3, 2013. The remaining eight items on OSHA’s agenda, which are at the prerule stage of development, include a proposed combustible-dust standard and reviews of the bloodborne pathogens and chemical-exposure-limits standards.
By December 2013 the agency plans to issue rules for handling whistle-blower complaints and for providing protection to employees who report allegations of fraud against shareholders; and employees working for commercial motor carriers, railroad carriers and public-transportation agencies. By April 2014, OSHA will issue final whistle-blower rules under the Consumer Financial Protection Act, the Seaman’s Protection Act, the PPACA and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Read more
The Kansas Corporation Commission has now published a final regulation (K.A.R. 82-4-3a) which expands the previous hours-of-service exemptions for motor carriers transporting agricultural commodities and farm supplies, by adopting the most recent FMCSA regulation following passage of the federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
KARA staff testified in support of the regulation at the public hearing and submitted a written comment in support of the regulation. Staff recommended, and the Commission implemented, a few minor changes to tighten the language and broaden the definition of “agricultural commodity” and “farm supplies” as used in the regulation.
The amendment expands the previous hours-of-service exemption in place for motor carriers transporting agricultural commodities and farm supplies during the planting and harvesting seasons, as follows:
(A) Drivers transporting agricultural commodities from the source of the agricultural commodities to a location within a 150 air-mile radius from the source;
(B) Drivers transporting farm supplies for agricultural purposes from a wholesale or retail distribution point of the farm supplies to a farm or other location where the farm supplies are intended to be used within a 150 air-mile radius from the distribution point; or
(C) Drivers transporting farm supplies for agricultural purposes from a wholesale distribution point of the farm supplies to a retail distribution point of the farm supplies within a 150 air-mile radius from the wholesale distribution point.
OSHA to target exits and exit routes
By Eric J. Conn, Head of the OSHA Group at Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.
Last month, OSHA issued an enforcement memorandum
directing inspectors to scrutinize whether employers provide and maintain adequate means of exit; i.e., unlocked, unobstructed, and clearly marked exit doors and exit routes and doors that comply with 29 C.F.R. 1910 Subpart E – Means of Egress (specifically, the various requirements of 1910.36
). The memo was issued in response to a deadly explosion and ammonia release at a poultry processing plant
in China on June 4, 2013, in which at least 120 employees lost their lives, many because they were unable to exit the plant due to blocked or locked exits.
In the enforcement memorandum, OSHA announced that: “During inspections of all workplaces [inspectors] should be mindful of whether the employer has provided and maintained adequate means of egress from work areas; e.g., adequate number of exit routes are provided, exit routes are free and obstructed, and exit doors are not locked.” This is consistent with the criteria OSHA identified in its Emergency Exit Routes Fact Sheet
Here are the basic requirements for complying 1910.36 set forth in OSHA’s regulations and the Fact Sheet:
- Employers must determine how many exits routes are required in its building. As a general rule, workplaces must have a minimum of two exits, and possibly more based on the number of employees, the size of the building, and the arrangement of the workplace. One exit route may be allowed if the size of the building, its occupancy, or arrangement allows all employees to evacuate safely.
- Exit routes must be maintained unobstructed, and the exit doors must remain unlocked from the inside. Specifically, exit routes must be free of stored materials, equipment, and especially explosive or highly flammable furnishings. Exits doors must be conspicuous, visible, free of decoration, and unlocked from the inside.
- Exit routes and doors must be properly labeled and maintained. Proper labels include signs that read “EXIT” or “TO EXIT” in plain legible letters, and maintained with adequate lighting. Doors or passages along the exit route that are not exits and do not lead to exits must be marked as “NOT AN EXIT” or labeled such that their non-exit purpose is obvious (e.g., store room, office, etc.).
Because of the environmental, economical and societal benefits they provide, genetically engineered (GE) varieties of soybeans, cotton and corn are the preferred choice of U.S. farmers, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) report, Genetically engineered varieties of corn, upland cotton, and soybeans, by State and for the Unites States, 2000-13
, key findings include:
- Of all soybeans grown in the United States, 93 percent is a genetically engineered variety in 2013 (was at 93 percent in 2012).
- Of all corn grown in the United States, 90 percent is a genetically engineered variety in 2013 (up from 88 percent in 2012).
- Of all cotton grown in the United States, 90 percent is a genetically engineered variety in 2013 (was from 94 percent in 2012).
Read the entire article here
U.S. Chamber of Commerce report: Sue and Settle, Regulating Behind Closed Doors
The Fertilizer Institute sent an alert on May 21 to state associations about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s released report titled Sue and Settle, Regulating Behind Closed Doors
. The report says that the legal tactic known as “sue and settle” has resulted in more than $488 billion in new regulatory compliance costs between 2009 and 2012. Sue and settle has predominately been used by environmental advocates to push the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or other federal environmental agencies to promulgate new rules or make existing rules more stringent.
Under sue and settle, a private party sues a government agency on the grounds that the agency has failed to meet its statutory requirement to regulate or they missed a deadline for issuing a regulation. The resulting settlements are often approved by federal courts, making the deadlines binding on the settling agency. These settlements exclude the regulated community and subvert the rule-making process. While most of the settlements have been around environmental regulation, the report suggests that the sue and settle process could move to other complex federal statutes.
This Bloomberg BNA article
summarizes the Chamber’s report.
West Fertilizer report details unfortunate sequence of events
How the West Fertilizer fire began still isn’t known and may never be. The investigation has unveiled the detailed sequence of a catastrophe: Heat, pressure and shockwave made dual explosions, just milliseconds apart.
Something started a blaze in the seed room of the company’s fertilizer and seed building, a 13,000-square-foot structure by the spur rail on the northeast side of town. It could have been an old golf cart stored there, or a problem with the warehouse’s electrical wiring or arson. The evidence, investigators from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said is insufficient to prove any of them.
Still, they reconstructed most of what happened and laid it out in public for the first time: The seed room was on the building’s north end, blown to oblivion along with most of the rest of the company’s assets. The crater, 93 feet across and 10 feet deep, marks its location. “Parked inside the seed room was an old golf cart,” West Mayor Tommy Muska said, having seen workers driving it many times. It was battery-operated, recharged by plugging it into an outlet. Nearby, in the same building, were wooden bins that held about 50 tons of ammonium-nitrate fertilizer. Outside, a rail car held an additional 100 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer unaffected by the explosion.
For 22 minutes, the fire burned — through the time when volunteer firefighters got the call, responded, asked for backup and started preparing for what might come. The fire kept getting hotter, raising the temperature of some of the ammonium nitrate — that is, shifting the chemical toward instability and increasing the likelihood that it would explode if detonated by a shockwave. That first detonation set off another — thousandths of a second later, so fast that witnesses couldn’t tell them apart. The U.S. Geological Survey’s earthquake-detecting seismograph west of town at Lake Whitney registered two distinct impacts. All told, only about 28 to 34 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded, but an additional 20 to 30 tons in the building didn't explode and neither did the ammonium nitrate in the rail car. The amount that did detonate had the explosive power of 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of TNT. It flung bits of buildings and vehicles up to 2.5 miles, though most of the debris fell within 3,000 feet, slightly more than a half-mile.
The search for answers on the ground took a month of combing through 14 to 15 acres, even sifting through hundreds of thousands of pounds of corn and milo by hand. It turned up an enormous amount of evidence, but not enough to prove any specific cause to a scientific certainty which leaves open three possibilities. One was the battery-powered golf cart. Over the past 15 years, tens of thousands of golf carts have been recalled because of fire risks, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says. Another possibility was an electrical system fire. Investigators exonerated the heavy-duty, 480-volt system in the warehouse that ran the big equipment. But the separate conventional 120-volt system couldn’t be ruled out, so it remains a possibility. The third was arson.
Workers Compensation Notice Provision Changes
During the 2013 legislative session, changes were made to the Kansas workers compensation law under SB 187. These changes reduce the amount of time an employee has to report a work-related injury to 20 days following the date of the accident. This is a decrease from the previous 30 days allowed. Also, if the employee no longer works for the employer, the employee now has 10 days from the last date of employment to report a work-related injury to the former employer.
These changes became effective on April 25, 2013. Employers are required to post these new requirements, and the Kansas Department of Labor notice form can be found here
. Additionally, a summary of the changes can be found here
National coalition formed to fight for the rights of independent contractors
In February, the KARA Board of Directors voted to join a nation-wide coalition of businesses for the purposes of supporting the lawful right to enter into business relationships with independent contractors.
The "It's My Business" coalition now has an active website: http://www.itsmybusiness.com
which officially launched on June 4, 2013. The website will soon include a link that lists all coalition members by state. Former US Senator Blanch Lincoln serves as the coalition chairman. Please find the "It's My Business" press release here
Cause of West Fertilizer incident is still undetermined
Agricultural Retailers Association
At a press conference held yesterday evening by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office, authorities reported that the cause of the fire at the West Texas Fertilizer Facility remains undetermined at this time. They did report on causes of the fire that have been eliminated and causes that have not been eliminated in their investigation. Media coverage resulting from the press conference at this point seems to be focused on the fact that criminal activity has not been ruled out as a cause of this incident. Officials emphasized the fact that the investigation is still ongoing. ARA will continue to monitor developments regarding this investigation.
Causes of the fire eliminated:
- Spontaneous ignition (480 system)
- Anhydrous Ammonia
- Ammonia Nitrate
Causes of the fire that have not been eliminated:
- 120 Volt electrical system
- Golf cart (battery powered, able to cause a fire) in the seed and fertilizer building
- Intentionally set fire
- Note: The Texas Rangers and McLennan County Sheriff's Office last week opened a criminal investigation into the blast. So far, officials have revealed no connection between Bryce Reed's arrest and the opening of the criminal investigation. Although they are not able to rule that possibility out at this time.
Additional Notes Regarding the Facility and the Investigation
These points were also reported during yesterday's news conference.
- The missing persons list from the explosion is now zero. No individuals are unaccounted for at this time.
- More than 28 other agencies are also investigating the incident.
- The origin of fire was determined to be in the fertilizer and seed building.
- The fire sparked two explosions that were "milliseconds" apart. This was recorded by a seismograph.
- As the fire caused the temperature to increase, pressure increased and the AN sensitivity to shock increased. Debris falling on the AN also could have led to explosion.
- 28-34 Tons of AN exploded, equivalent to 15,000 - 20,000 lbs of TNT
- An additional 20-30 tons of AN was in building and did not explode.
- 100 tons of AN on a rail car nearby also did not explode.
- It is estimated that 150 tons of AN were on site at time of incident, less than the 270 tons reported on the Tier 2 report.
to read a press release issued by ATF on yesterday's press conference. A press release from the Texas State Fire Marshal's office is available here
Opportunities to Help the Community of West, Texas
The following charities have been established to help those impacted by the terrible tragedy at the West fertilizer facility in Texas:
A Fertilizer Information and Communications Toolkit
is also available to Members Only on the ARA website. If you need your ARA website log in credentials or more information on the news provided in this update, contact Michelle Hummel in the ARA office at (202) 595-1712 or email@example.com
United Plains Ag receives Environmental Respect Award
Congratulations to United Plains Ag/CHS in Quinter, for receiving the 2013 Environmental Respect Award. The Environmental Respect Award (ERA) is the agricultural industry’s highest recognition for environmental stewardship among U.S. retailers, those serving growers with agronomic information critical to effective crop production.
A panel of industry experts gathers each year to recognize achievement in environmental stewardship, professional excellence and community involvement. Winners have been chosen based on evidence of excellence in site design, in-plant storage and handling procedures, emergency preparedness and response, proper application and leadership in safety and stewardship among customers and employees.
Talking points on Texas fertilizer incident
As members are aware, an unfortunate accident occurred yesterday at a West, Texas fertilizer plant. KARA’s deepest sympathies are with everyone that was impacted by this tragedy.
KARA staff was in communication yesterday with our national associations and the Board of Directors with updates on the situation. The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) have compiled a list of talking points and facts should this incident provoke media attention to the industry.
KARA will continue to monitor the situation and update members as needed.
Please feel free to direct questions and media inquiries to TFI's Vice President of Public Affairs Kathy Mathers by telephone at 202-515-2703 (office), cell (202-251-2273), or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clarifying aspects of EPA's Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule and impacts on farmers and ranchers
By U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks
The goal of SPCC is to prevent oil spills into waters of the United States and adjoining shorelines. These plans can help farmers prevent oil spills, which can damage water resources needed for farming operations.
We recognize that many farmers and ranchers continue to have questions about whether they will be affected and what they can do to be in compliance.
If your farm began operations after August 16, 2002 you must prepare and implement an SPCC plan which meets all of the SPCC requirements no later than May 10, 2013. If your farm was in operation before August 16, 2002, and you do not already have a plan, you need to prepare a plan that meets all of the SPCC requirements and implement the plan as soon as possible.
You may be asking, “Does this SPCC Rule impact my farm?”
If you do not store more than 1,320 gallons of oil or oil products on your farm in aboveground containers, or 42,000 gallons of oil or oil products in completely buried containers, you are not subject to the SPCC rules.
Our rule considers the storage at a facility on a tract of land. For most farms in the Midwest, there are multiple tracts of land. Facilities “farms” which potentially are subject to SPCC requirements can be subdivided by property, parcel, and lease. If the individual areas (property, parcel, lease) don’t exceed the threshold requirements, the individual areas are not subject to SPCC regulation.
We have heard that farmers are concerned that we will force compliance by not allowing local CO-OPs to deliver fuel unless the farm has an SPCC plan in place. EPA has no idea where farmers purchase their fuel and cannot enforce in that way. However, a typical enforcement would probably follow a spill if we discovered the facility did not have an SPCC plan in place or the plan was not being followed.
Can I self-certify my own plan?
If your farm has a total oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 and less than 10,000 gallons in aboveground containers, and the farm has a good spill history (as described in the SPCC rule), you may prepare and self-certify your own plan. (However, if you decide to use certain alternate measures allowed by the federal SPCC Rule, you will need a professional engineer.)
If your farm has storage capacity of more than 10,000 gallons, or has had an oil spill you may need to prepare an SPCC plan certified by a professional engineer.
If you are eligible to self-certify your plan, and no aboveground container at your farm is greater than 5,000 gallons in capacity, then you may use the plan template that is available to download from EPA's website at: http://www.epa.gov/oem/content/spcc/tier1temp.htm
Currently, EPA is prevented from enforcing the SPCC rule on farms due to modifications in the program within the continuing resolution authorizing funding for government operations until September 30, 2013.
EPA Region 7 has not conducted inspections of farms for purposes of this rule. To avoid confusion and get solid answers to any questions you might have, I strongly encourage you to contact EPA with any questions related to the SPCC rule. The EPA Region 7 contact is Mark Aaron who can be reached at 913.551.7205 or email@example.com
, EPA Region 7, 11201 Renner Blvd., Lenexa, Kansas 66219.
You can also click on the following link for further information. http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/spcc/index.htm
DuPont and Monsanto reach technology licensing agreements on next-generation soybean technologies
DuPont and Monsanto announced on March 26 a series of technology licensing agreements that will expand the range of seed products they can offer farmers. The agreements include a multi-year, royalty-bearing license for Monsanto’s next-generation soybean technologies in the United States and Canada.
Through these agreements, DuPont Pioneer will be able to offer Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybeans as early as 2014, and Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ glyphosate and dicamba tolerant soybeans as early as 2015, pending regulatory approvals.
DuPont Pioneer also will receive regulatory data rights for the soybean and corn traits previously licensed from Monsanto, enabling it to create a wide array of stacked trait combinations using traits or genetics from DuPont Pioneer or others. Monsanto will receive access to certain DuPont Pioneer disease resistance and corn defoliation patents. Read more.
Status Update on Federal Hours of Service (HOS) Exemption Regulations
Last October, two new statutory exemptions to the federal hours-of-service (HOS) rules became effective under Sections 323101 and 32934 of the moving ahead for progress in the 21st century act (MAP-21). Section 32101 provided an exemption from HOS regulations for certain carriers transporting agricultural commodities and farm supplies. Section 32934 provided a statutory exemption from most federal regulations for the operation of covered farm vehicles by farm and ranch operators. Note: a previous 2-year exemption from federal HOS regulations for carriers transporting anhydrous ammonia will not be renewed, as it is now substantively included under Section 32101.
Association staff notified the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) at the time and petitioned the KCC to amend its regulations to reflect the new HOS exemptions under MAP-21. On Thursday, March 14, 2013, the FMCSA, under the federal department of transportation, published a final rule in the Federal Register amending the federal regulations to reflect the new, broader, HOS exemptions under MAP-21. Adoption of this final rule allows states to amend their own regulations to reflect the federal HOS exemptions under MAP-21.
Association staff was recently notified that the Kansas Attorney General's office has approved all but two of the KCC regulations concerning the MAP-21 HOS exemptions, and that this stage in the process is nearing completion. Once all of the regulations are approved, the regulations will be published in the Kansas Register for a 60-day public comment period and a public hearing.
Please note that all currently existing KCC regulations concerning HOS exemptions remain in effect until the new KCC regulations are passed.
TFI and ARA join other agricultural groups in Legal Brief filing
The following memo was sent from The Fertilizer Institute to state associations on March 7:
On March 5, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), submitted a joint memorandum as intervenors in opposition to the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), et al (plaintiffs) and in support of the the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strategy to deny the GRN petition. In addition, 13 states also intervened in support of our position. The intervention of these 13 states, which came about through the encouragement of TFI, our members and other stake holders, sends a critical message to EPA that the states will not tolerate federal preemption of their water quality standards.
By way of background, TFI’s strategy on the issue of EPA’s goal to set strict numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) is three-fold. First, we are challenging this from both a scientific and regulatory perspective; as the science does not support rigid numeric limits given the unique nature of nutrients. Nutrients, unlike other pollutants, are integral and necessary within any watershed system and cannot be treated like traditional pollutants (where the closer to zero you get, the better). Second, we have successfully litigated precedent-setting cases, such as Florida, by challenging both the science and legality of EPA’s actions. Finally, we are aggressively advancing 4R nutrient stewardship as the voluntary pathway to achieve greater nutrient use efficiency at the field level.
The GRN lawsuit petitions EPA to develop NNC in the Mississippi River Basin (MRB). In our brief, we argue the EPA acted reasonably by denying the plaintiffs petition to set multi-state NNC. Specifically we argue the plaintiffs failed to show the necessity of EPA setting a multi-state NNC; that the Clean Water Act (CWA) specifically gives deference to the states in setting water quality standards; and the plaintiffs failed to show that the states in the MRB are failing to improve water quality standards.
In addition, the brief argues that not only does EPA not have a scientifically robust system to set such standards; but also that the legal underpinnings are questionable. The brief argues that EPA was correct to deny the plaintiffs petition based on 40 years of CWA precedent. The authority to set water quality standards lies almost exclusively with the states. We believe the states know their watersheds and their issues better than the EPA.
We concur with EPA that setting multi-state NNC is outside the intent of the CWA and would place an unreasonable burden (from both a time and cost perspective) on the EPA’s already limited resources; as well as resulting in costly and time-consuming litigation. We support EPA’s position that they are better served to provide technical support to states as they implement their own water quality standards.
ACRC Seeks Qualified Container Recycling Service Provider
The Ag Container Recycling Council (ACRC) would like to identify any and all qualified companies interested in providing pesticide container recycling services for the period 2014-2016 in a manner that benefits both the ACRC and all program participants. To that end, the ACRC is issuing a Request for Statements of Qualifications (SOQ) from qualified companies with interest in providing pesticide container recycling services in the fifteen states currently defined as the ACRC Midwest service area beginning January 1, 2014.
If you know of any person/organization interested in providing the required services in one, some, or all of the Midwest states, please call 877 952-2272 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
. SOQs are due no later than April 26, 2013.
Soil Scientist Gives Guidelines for Applying Lime to No-Till Farm Fields
One thing that’s critically important to monitor in no-till farming systems is soil pH, according to Kansas State University agronomist Dave Mengel.
“The top few inches of soil may become extremely acidic due to the surface application of nitrogen fertilizer,” said Mengel, who is a soil fertility specialist with K-State Research and Extension.
When the soil pH gets too low for optimal crop production, lime must be applied to reduce the effect of toxic aluminum on plant roots, to maintain good conditions for microbial activity, and to get the best performance from some of the soil-applied herbicides, he said. Read more.
KARA thanks Chrysler for Super Bowl commercial
KARA, along with other several national and state ag groups, signed on to a letter from the Animal Ag Alliance thanking Chrysler for their “And God Made a Farmer” commercial during the Super Bowl.
KARA urges our members to go to www.ramtrucks.com/en/keepplowing to watch the commercial and help the National FFA Foundation achieve its goal of a $1 million contribution from Chrysler to its “Feeding the World – Starting at Home” program.