The Missouri Agribusiness Association is committed to the agribusiness industry within the Show-Me State by offering services that will enhance the day-to-day operations of agribusinesses now and in the future.
MO-AG's mission simply states, "The mission of the Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG) is to advocate for the business of agriculture while offering services and networking opportunities for the agribusiness community."
2016 Pyramid of MO-AG Program Sponsors
Click here to get the latest MO-AG Minute.
Legislation of Interest
Click here to see legislation of interest.
News You Can Use
MO-AG Priority Legislation Signed by Governor
Governor Jay Nixon has signed the fertilizer control board bill (SB655) into law. I want to sincerely thank Sen. Brian Munzlinger for sponsoring the bill and Rep. Bill Reiboldt for handling the bill in the House. There are many others to thank as well. While MO-AG was intimately involved in the development of the legislation and was an early supporter, passage of the legislation was truly a group effort. The support of the major commodity groups and farm organizations was absolutely crucial. Also crucial were those MO-AG members who travelled to Jefferson City to testify for the bill and to visit one-on-one with legislators.
And now, the work really begins. SB655 authorizes a new board which will be responsible for directing Missouri's fertilizer program and determining how resources will be utilized. A Board made of up fertilizer dealers and their farmer customers who together pay the fertilizer tonnage fee will be deciding how best to utilize those funds. I expect the new board will take a broad look at the present program and discuss potential changes for the future. The Board will need to prioritize the regulatory program along with other priorities.
In addition to signing SB655 last week, Governor Nixon also signed SB665, SB657, and SB664. SB657 promotes the installation of blended fuel pumps while SB664 waives the requirement that farm corporations report to the Secretary of State when no changes in the reported information has occurred. SB665 re-authorizes the beef tax credit until 2021 and increases the credit up to $15,000. It also includes a tax credit for meat processing facilities and expands the eligibility of the Farm-to-Table (formerly Farm to School) Program. SB664 and SB665 were sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson and SB657 was sponsored by Sen. Brian Munzlinger. MO-AG thanks Governor Nixon for his support and for signing all these bills into law.
GMO Labeling Agreement?
Senators have a bipartisan deal to require labeling of genetically modified ingredients nationally. The deal would require labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in packaged foods nationwide. But it would be more lenient than Vermont's law, allowing food companies to use a text label, a symbol or electronic label accessed by smartphone. Vermont's law would require items to be labeled "produced with genetic engineering."
Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas have worked to find a compromise, saying a national solution is needed in the face of several separate state laws. The Grocery Manufacturers Association said it is backing the senators' deal. The group has opposed mandatory labeling nationwide, but advocated for electronic labels in negotiations. "This bipartisan agreement ensures consumers across the nation can get clear, consistent information about their food and beverage ingredients and prevents a patchwork of confusing and costly state labeling laws," said Pamela Bailey, president of that group.
"The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) welcomes the Senate's carefully crafted, bipartisan legislative agreement to finally move our country forward on the GMO disclosure issue," said Jim Greenwood, BIO's President and CEO. "We commend Senate Agriculture Committee leadership for making the issue a priority in this Congressional session." BIO urges immediate action towards moving the bill forward. "It is essential that the Congress - both the Senate and the House - act immediately to pass the Roberts-Stabenow agreement and send it to the President for his signature. Vermont's mandatory GMO food labeling law goes into effect on July 1, and it is already generating chaos in the marketplace." Source: BIO
FAA: UAS (Drones) Cleared For Takeoff
FAA has finalized the first operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems. According to industry estimates, the rule could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years. The new rule takes effect in late August. The regulations require pilots to keep an unmanned aircraft within visual line of sight. Under the final rule, the person actually flying a drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate. If qualifying under the latter provision, a pilot must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA. The FAA strongly encourages all UAS pilots to check local and state laws before gathering information through remote sensing technology or photography. Source: PrecisionAg
OSHA Continues Targeting of Anhydrous Ammonia - Review & Update
Last year, Senator Roy Blunt led the effort to put language in OSHA's appropriations bill directing OSHA not to enforce the Process Safety Management (PSM) on ag retailers. Nevertheless, OSHA moved forward with its PSM efforts citing the West Texas tragedy. In a hearing this past March, Sen. Blunt told Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez that OSHA was ignoring Congressional intent and that anhydrous ammonia has not involved in the West Texas tragedy. On March 23rd, MO-AG, along with its state counterparts and national affiliates, sent a letter (CLICK HERE) to House and Senate appropriations leaders restating the fact that PSM was meant for chemical manufacturers and not ag retailers. The letter stated that PSM would place significant time and cost burdens on ag facilities and asked the appropriators to once again include language in the FY17 appropriations bill to stop OSHA. On May 26th, 52 bi-partisan members of the U.S House, including Missouri Representatives Hartzler, Luetkemeyer, and Graves, sent a letter to OSHA (CLICK HERE). In the letter, the members stated that "the continued attempts by OSHA to tie anhydrous ammonia to the West incident are in contradiction to the facts." The letter went on to state that a vast number of facilities "will likely require significant human and capital investments." And as all this takes place in Congress, TFI and ARA continue their legal actions in the DC circuit of the US Court of Appeals.
With the pressure mounting, OSHA has relented to initiating a small business advocacy review panel which is a 'first step' towards rulemaking. OSHA estimates the rulemaking process to take more than 5 years to complete. In the meantime, OSHA does not plan to stop enforcing PSM. Therefore, on June 9th, the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Roy Blunt, approved a FY17 appropriations bill and the committee report included language stating OSHA is to submit PSM to rulemaking, conduct a cost analysis, and establish a NAICS code for farm supply retailers. Also in the House, HR 5213, the Fertilizer Access and Responsible Management (FARM) Act has been introduced which would also prevent OSHA from enforcing PSM on ag retail facilities.
So, bottom-line, much work is being done to keep OSHA from enforcing PSM in the near term. In the longer term, whether ag facilities handling anhydrous ammonia will have to submit to PSM is anyone's guess. If you plan to be in the anhydrous ammonia business long term, you may wish to learn more about PSM and how to be in compliance, just in case. MO-AG members are encouraged to check out the ResponsibleAg website HERE for more information.
Asmark Institute Sponsors 25 ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Scholarships
The Asmark Institute announced plans to provide 25 scholarships through their affiliated State fertilizer and agrichemical associations to help encourage qualified individuals to become credentialed auditors under the ResponsibleAg Certification Program. At the heart of the ResponsibleAg initiative is the goal of providing accurate and credible audits consistently across the entire group of carefully trained ResponsibleAg credentialed auditors. There have been 84 auditors complete the training and pass the credentialing process so far. While the numbers of "internal" auditors, those trained to perform audits for their own company, has grown rapidly, there is a need for qualified "contract" auditors, those who will provide the service of performing audits for small and medium-size independent or cooperative businesses.
Each scholarship will offset the $2,150 registration for training and includes the credentialing application process. The scholarship program is designed to help offset some of the start-up costs for new auditors and help relieve some of the risk associated with launching a new national initiative of this magnitude. Recipients of the scholarships are expected to follow through and provide the service of performing audits.
"There are no better references than the State agribusiness association to help locate, select and foster the local highly-qualified individuals needed for this program," said Allen Summers, President of the Asmark Institute, "so it was an easy decision on our part to support our partners in each State and look to them for help with launching this vital program."
Individuals interested in learning more about this scholarship program should contact their participating State agribusiness association. To learn more about ResponsibleAg, contact the Helpdesk at 270-683-6777 or visit the website at http://www.responsibleag.org.%20
Source: Asmark Institute
MDA: Administrative Rule Changes
Below is a list of new or updated rules for Missouri grain facilities and commercial applicators that are published in the May 31, 2016 issue of the Code of State Regulations. The changes include a new range of capacity has been added for low capacity businesses (2 CSR 60-4.030), allow licensed grain warehouses to electronic warehouse receipts (2 CSR 60-4.050), remove requirement for licensed public grain warehouses to file a tariff each year when license is renewed only with original application (2 CSR 60-4.120), remove grain warehouse requirement of an irrevocable letter of credit be provided in lieu of a bond be issued by a bank chartered under the laws of Missouri and requirement that it would be only negotiable at financial institutions located within Missouri (2 CSR 60-4.150) and (2 CSR 60-5.080) and changes in acceptable insurance and bond forms for commercial applicators (2 CSR 70-25.065). You can find these rulemakings at http://www.sos.mo.gov/adrules/csr/csr.asp.
2 CSR 60-4.030 Warehouse License-Fees
2 CSR 60-4.050 Warehouse Receipts
2 CSR 60-4.120 Tariffs
2 CSR 60-4.150 Letters of Credit
2 CSR 60-5.080 Letters of Credit
2 CSR 70-25.065 Acceptable Insurance and Bond Forms for Commercial Applicators
Source: Missouri Secretary of State
Triazine Network Tell EPA to Abide by the Law and Science
An EPA draft report on the herbicide atrazine is cause for alarm says the Triazine Network, a national coalition of farm organizations representing well over 30 agricultural crops in over 40 states. The group insists if the EPA continues to use the same false logic or endpoints as noted in the preliminary risk assessment, it could lead to a de facto ban on atrazine. "EPA's flawed atrazine report is stomping science into the dirt and setting farmers up for significant economic hardship. We challenge this latest proposal and insist EPA abide by federal law that requires the agency to make determinations based on credible scientific evidence," said Triazine Network Chairman Gary Marshall. Marshall is executive director of the Missouri Corn Growers Association.
EPA is recommending aquatic life level of concern (LOC) be set at 3.4 parts per billion (ppb) on a 60-day average. "At the proposed level, atrazine would be rendered useless in controlling weeds in a large portion of the Corn Belt, effectively eliminating the product," notes Marshall. The Triazine Network and other farm groups have met with top EPA officials twice in the past few months asking them to follow a robust, science-based regulatory process established by Congress for regulating pesticides. "We did not receive a positive response from the agency. EPA appears to be strongly committed to using flawed studies previously thrown out by their own science panels," Marshall said. "EPA risks its very foundation of being a science-based federal agency that makes decisions without bias." EPA reregistered atrazine in 2006 and began its regularly scheduled registration re-review June 2013. The process typically takes six years to complete. Once the draft report is published in the Federal Register, EPA will begin collecting comments for 60 days. For more information, click HERE.
Source: Triazine Network
ATF Reports West Fertilizer Was a Criminal Act
More than three years after the West, Texas tragedy,the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office called a press conference and announced the origin and cause of the plant fire and explosion at West Fertilizer. ATF has determined that the fire started in the seed warehouse that was connected to the fertilizer storage building and the cause of the fire has been determined to have been a criminal act. The criminal act is still under investigation with ATF issuing a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Source: Asmark Institute
PSM Lawsuit Update: Just Tell Us Yes or No
Did OSHA overstep their authority on July 22, 2015 when they rescinded the letter of interpretation that originally granted the "retail exemption" to our industry? ARA and TFI have petitioned the court to dispense with oral arguments asking simply for a "yes" or "no" opinion to this question. We were looking to this decision as a key indicator of the future of PSM until OSHA's Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels sent a letter to every member of Congress on May 6th. In the letter, OSHA appears to be doubling-down on their position as he advises members that the agency has already begun amending the PSM Standard to define the retail exemption. He is asking them to "not take further action that would limit the scope or applicability of the guidance during such time as OSHA conducts rulemaking." The letter also indicates the agency plans to begin enforcement of PSM on October 1, 2016.
Source: Asmark Institute
OSHA's Letter Sparks Controversy
Given the close timeframe of the ATF announcement and the letter to Congress by Dr. Michaels, industry has pushed back with a new fervor wanting to know how PSM came to be when anhydrous ammonia was not involved in the West, Texas tragedy-and now reportedly a criminal act and not the potential safety incident scenario. Also at issue is OSHA's intention to begin enforcement on October 1st despite their plan to complete rulemaking sometime within five years. Add the "wildcard" of being an election year-with special emphasis on "wild" this year, and the future of this issue becomes exponentially harder to predict the outcome. Source: Asmark Institute
Are Your GHS Efforts on Track?
OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard in 1983 gave workers the "right to know," but the new Globally Harmonized System gives workers the "right to understand." Since 2012,OSHA has been bringing the United States into alignment with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals
with the following deadlines:
So, what should I have done already?
•Train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format. (12/1/2013)
•New SDSs should be in a uniform format. (06/01/2015)
•Comply with either the final standard or the current standard, or both.(5/31/2016)
What do I need to do by June 1, 2016?
•Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Update your Hazard Communication Program to discontinue use of the term "MSDS" and other outdated information. Retailers are fortunate that practically all of the products they receive are already marked with GHS labeling, however, if you have any "left-over" products in your facility, you
may need to apply the correct GHS labeling. Source: Asmark Institute
West Texas Criminal Arson
The fire that led to the deadly explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant in April 2013 has been determined to be arson, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. The agency arrived at its conclusion after conducting more than 400 interviews, did a fire-scene examination and reviewed videos and witness photos. As a result of the findings, the agency is now offering a reward of $50,000 to help find the person who started the fire, which is now being considered a crime. So far, no arrests have been made and it is unknown what the motive was for setting the fire.
The ARA said it and its member companies remain committed to community and employee safety through the secure and responsible handling of ammonium nitrate and other essential crop production nutrients. In an effort to further enhance a culture of safety and accountability within the fertilizer industry, ARA and TFI established ResponsibleAg. Using third-party audits and other tools, ResponsibleAg assists agricultural retailers with federal regulatory compliance surrounding the safe handling and storage of fertilizer.
GMOs are safe
Genetically engineered crops present no more risk to human health than conventionally bred crops, but the evolution of resistance in both insects and weeds caused by growing such crops has become "a major agricultural problem," according to a long-awaited study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. "Policy regarding (genetically engineered) crops has scientific, legal, and social dimensions," according to the report summary. "For example, on the basis of its review of the evidence on health effects, the committee does not believe that mandatory labeling of foods with GE content is justified to protect public health, but it noted that the issue involves social and economic choices that go beyond technical assessments of health or environmental safety; ultimately, it involves value choices that technical assessments alone cannot answer." While genetically engineered crops have benefited some farmers, the report said, there's also evidence of insects developing resistance to crops intended to thwart them, and weeds growing resistant to the glyphosate-based herbicide commonly sprayed on genetically modified crops, when the crops are not properly managed. The report also found no direct link between bioengineered crops and harm to the environment.
In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the report "adds to the long list of research that shows genetically engineered foods are safe" and called on Congress to take action to "prevent further confusion." Source: Chicago Tribune
Organic Attacking Conventional Agriculture
Big Ag is losing the war of public opinion to organic marketers who are eroding consumers' trust in their products, Jay Byrne, a former Clinton official, told attendees of the Animal Agriculture Alliance Summit on Thursday in Arlington, Va. "We are under attack in conventional agriculture by organic marketing," said Byrne, who heads an agriculture PR firm. "And nobody is coming to our side. And we are losing."
Byrne, a communications director for the Clinton campaign in 1992 who went on to serve as the chief spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development, encouraged livestock farmers and producers to fight negative media coverage and cultivate an aura of empathy with consumers. He said conventional food producers haven't been aggressive enough, as evidenced by the negative perception of genetically engineered crops. "We didn't do very well with that, quite frankly." Source: Politico
WHO Finally Lands On Right Answer For Glyphosate
The WHO's Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) announced that it believes glyphosate is "unlikely to cause cancer in people via dietary exposure." The announcement contradicts the opinion expressed earlier by another WHO body, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, that the chemical is "probably carcinogenic to humans." Phil Miller, Monsanto's vice president for global regulatory and government affairs, described JMPR's decision as a form of exoneration. "IARC's classification was inappropriate and inconsistent with the science on glyphosate," he said. "Based on the overwhelming weight of evidence, the JMPR has reaffirmed the findings of regulatory agencies around the world that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a cancer risk." Source: Politico
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, testifying before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, said she and the agency were "distressed about the use of the money and the tone of the campaign," and that the agency has cut off funding to the group. EPA's Inspector General announced there will be an investigation of the spending. EPA funded an anti-agriculture billboard campaign in Washington State urging state voters to contact their lawmakers to ensure the agriculture industry is held to the same standards as other industries when it comes to runoff and river pollution.
Source: Asmark Institute
Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Update
Agriculture and other industry interests opposed to EPA's controversial "waters of the U.S." rulemaking were disappointed recently when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider its decision on its jurisdiction over the rulemaking. The agricultural industry wanted the case heard by the federal district courts, leaving the appeals court as second resort in the challenge. The appeals court earlier blocked implementation as various state and industry court actions work their way through the system. Source: Asmark Institute
Missouri Legislature Update
MO-AG's priority legislation appears well positioned as the legislature enters the last weeks of session. The fertilizer control board legislation, SB665, needs only a vote on the house floor in order to be sent to the Governor and signed into law. The fertilizer preemption bill, HB1729, was brought to the Senate floor for a vote last week, but, was not voted on due to an issue with an amendment which added seed to the bill. MO-AG supported the amendment especially given that seed preemption has come before the legislature of other states this year and have passed. (For a list of states passing seed preemption and other seed related state legislation, see THIS from ASTA). MO-AG is hopeful that HB1729 will be brought back up on the Senate floor very soon. The fertilizer language was also added to this year's agriculture omnibus bill, SB703. SB703 needs a vote on the House floor as well as the Senate floor before being sent to the Governor. Besides the fertilizer language, SB703 also contains the ethanol incentive fund, ag disaster payments, and the show-me rural jobs, as well as other provisions.
Other legislation that MO-AG has supported is the MDA tax credits. That legislation has now been added to Sen. Parson's AgriMissouri trademark bill, SB665. The legislature also passed appropriations legislation that appropriates all monies for FY 2017. HB2006 funds MDA and MDNR and includes $9.9M for biodiesel incentive fund, $2.5M for the dairy revitalization act, $2M for the beef initiative, $1M for MDA to open international offices, and many other items. For MDNR, the legislature directed that MDNR not use any funding to implement or enforce the EPA's federal water quality rule 'WOTUS'. The passage of the appropriations bills comes ahead of the constitutional deadline for appropriations which will allow the legislature to override any vetoes by the Governor during the regular session.
To see all of MO-AG's 'legislation of interest', CLICK HERE
Other Legislation of Note
Lawmakers have sent roughly a $27.2 billion state budget to Gov. Jay Nixon that increases spending on higher education as a whole, while specifically cutting funding from the University of Missouri System. House and Senate Republicans insisted on sending a message to the UM Board of Curators expressing their disapproval over how last fall's unrest on the Mizzou campus was handled. That message manifested itself in a $3.8 million cut that targets the administration.
The final version of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget also revives the Department of Transportation's cost-share program, in which local governments would pay part of the cost of a road or bridge project in exchange for speeding up construction. The program was suspended two years ago due to MoDOT's bleak transportation funding outlook, but the picture has improved a bit due to last year's federal highway bill and recent increases in fuel tax collections. Bringing back the cost-share program was one of House Speaker Todd Richardson's top priorities, who's also opposed to a Senate bill that would raise the state's fuel tax. "A tax increase of any kind is going to be very, very difficult to do," Richardson told reporters Thursday. "(But), we've got some (House) members that are interested in giving it a fair hearing...we'll see where it goes from there." Source: St. Louis Public Radio
Beef Checkoff Fails
Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce announced that the state will not establish a new beef checkoff. This announcement comes after the director approved a petition to conduct a referendum of Missouri cattle producers, at the request of the Missouri Beef Industry Council and pursuant to section 275.352 RSMo as amended, to establish a $1.00 per head state beef checkoff assessment on Dec. 23, 2015. On April 4, 2016, ballots were mailed to the 8,480 Missouri beef producers who registered during the registration period. Of those, 6,568 valid ballots were returned to the Missouri Department of Agriculture postmarked no later than April 15. 1,663 producers (25.33%) voted for the checkoff and 4,903 producers (74.67%) voted against it. Source: MDA
Farm Income Forecasted Down Next 10 Years
"The USDA forecasts real (adjusted for inflation) net farm income will be in the low $50 billion range annually for the next 10 years, which is down dramatically from recent highs and similar to the 1980s," said Jeff Swanhorst, executive vice president, credit and chief credit offer of AgriBank. What Swanhorst said at the end of his quoted comments is the most interesting aspects of the news about farmers and challenges. "All we know for sure is the forecast will be wrong. Farmers will make many adjustments, depending on their circumstances, and they'll be rewarded for their entrepreneurial spirit, management and good old-fashioned hustle."
At this point in the spring season, those farmers who will defy the predicted dire situation have headed down a course of adjustment and dealt with borrowing operating funds. And from all the bank reports, the bankers are not worried about the farmers that have a management plan in place-some kind of plan whether it be "crisis" plan or an entrepreneurial change in operations. Maintaining operations and dealing with bugs, disease and crop nutrient needs have to continue and will be dealt with as needed-ignoring the problems to simply throw away a crop isn't going to happen. Farmers will complain but not burn you in effigy. Source: Ag Professional
EPA Funds Smear of Agriculture
The Swinomish Indian tribe put up the billboards in Olympia and Bellingham to promote What's Upstream, a media campaign crafted by a public relations firm to link agriculture with water pollution. The billboards assert: "Unregulated agriculture is putting our waterways at risk." A photo shows three cows standing in a stream.
The tribe has received EPA grants totaling nearly $570,000, primarily for the services of Seattle PR firm Strategies 360. The EPA says it concluded What's Upstream has not broken prohibitions on lobbying with federal funds because it has not advocated for or against specific legislation. The group's website includes a "Take Action" link in which people can send form letters to their state legislators asking lawmakers impose mandatory 100-foot buffers between farm fields and waterways. Farm groups complain these and other images used by What's Upstream inaccurately portray farm practices in Washington.
The Swinomish Tribe's environmental policy director, Larry Wasserman, said in an earlier interview he does not know where the cow photo was taken. Source: Capital Press
MDNR Proposes Permit Modifications
The MDNR is proposing modifications to permit MO-R240000 which also effects permit MO-R241000. Some may know these as the 'AgChem' permits. This permit pertains to facilities that handle bulk agrichemicals, which includes pesticides and fertilizers. MO-AG members that currently have this permit should have received a post card from the MDNR encouraging you to review the draft permit and to submit comments. The current permits and the draft permit with proposed modifications can be found at the MDNR's website HERE.
MO-AG is currently reviewing the draft permit as we prepare our comments to the MDNR. We would encourage you do so as well and we would appreciate hearing any thoughts you may have regarding the proposed modifications.
Two new and significant items in the modified permit include stormwater benchmark sampling from uncovered operational containment areas and a requirement to develop and implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). Benchmarks are used to determine effectiveness of control measures and can be numeric measures of water quality. Failure to meet benchmarks may require revised practices or capital expenditures. A SWPPP is a plan which documents actions to prevent or control pollution of stormwater and can include Best Management Practices (BMPs). BMPs reduce the amount of pollution entering waters of the state. The SWPPP will include training requirements and monthly inspections that must be documented.
One specific concern with these new requirements is the deadlines imposed. For example, the draft permit requires a SWPPP within 90 days of the permit issuance. Given this is a new requirement and there is no guidance on how SWPPPs should be developed for these facilities, it seems the deadline should be greatly extended.
The deadline to comment is 5pm on May 9th. Information on how to submit comments are found on the cover sheet of the draft permit. Again, we encourage you to contact us with any comments you might have prior to May 9th so that we can consider and incorporate them into comments from MO-AG.
Time to Regulate Agriculture?
It's time for Iowa farm organizations to face reality and become proactive in helping create a regulatory program that will work for farmers. A common-sense solution to our water quality problems is a flexible regulatory program that would give farmers the ability to choose which practices to use on their own farms, as long as each farm meets water quality standards. Several alternative proposals are being floated for mechanisms to raise money to fund water quality improvements. For example, a recent proposal suggests that a tax be put on agricultural commodities to raise money to fund the adoption of water quality practices by farmers. There are two problems with that type of approach: 1) All farmers would be taxed, whether they are already taking sufficient measures to protect water quality or not, and 2) The money would be used to try to bribe farmers to adopt water quality practices, instead of requiring them to do so.
Experience tells us that many farmers will not participate regardless of payments, and many farmers will stop using conservation practices as soon as funding ends. We have invested billions of dollars in conservation and water quality programs, and our water quality has continued to deteriorate. History informs us that the likelihood of achieving any real progress in improving our water quality is minimal with voluntary programs. Source: Des Moines Register
4R Strategic Plan Developed
TFI member companies traveled to Washington, D.C. to discuss the new 4R strategic plan. Focusing on implementation for the upcoming fiscal year, the group identified tactics geared toward expanding awareness and adoption by agronomic service providers and their grower customers, filling research and knowledge gaps, tracking 4R implementation, and engaging targeted stakeholders in key issue areas. The plan can be found HERE. Source: TFI
Congress to Consider GMO Labeling, TPP Approval in New Year
Lawmakers are back in Washington, D.C. after the holiday break. According to POLITICO, GMO labeling, child nutrition authorization, approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other pending legislation is expected to be tackled in the new year. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks concluded in late October. The deal between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries is said to be the largest free trade agreement involving the U.S. If approved by Congress, TPP will eliminate more than 18,000 taxes other countries place on U.S. goods in the form of tariffs. The tariff reductions included in the deal will make the export of U.S. beef and other products more price competitive.
Also on the table is a proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which is often referred to as Obamacare. According to Bloomberg, a bill to repeal the legislation has already been passed by the Senate and now requires House approval. House Speaker Paul Ryan has indicated it will be the first bill considered in the House as the second session of the 114th Congress. Lawmakers could also tackle the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule in the coming months. Legislation rolling back the rule was not included in the omnibus spending bill that Congress passed before the Christmas break, so lawmakers could push the House for a vote on the Senate resolution against WOTUS. Source: AgProfessional
Senator Roy Blunt: "OSHA ignored Congressional Intent"
"Why did OSHA ignore clear Congressional intent?" That was the question that Missouri Senator Roy Blunt posed to the Secretary of the Department of Labor, Thomas Perez, during a recent Senate hearing on Appropriations for the Department of Labor (DOL). The issue being discussed was revised OSHA policy that requires agricultural retailers that handle anhydrous ammonia to implement Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard. Sen. Blunt's question was specifically regarding the directions Congress gave to DOL in the FY2016 Appropriations Bill. That law said that OSHA was not to enforce PSM until OSHA had carried out rulemaking procedures. OSHA has declined to implement rulemaking.
During the hearing, Perez stated "this issue is an outgrowth of the horrible catastrophe of West Texas where 15 people died." Sen Blunt quickly and accurately responded that "anhydrous ammonia was not involved in that accident" and that OSHA was "adding a substantial cost penalty to small retailers who have never had an accident, who follow the current rules"
MO-AG greatly appreciates Sen. Blunt defending the fertilizer sector, defending agricultural retailers, and pushing back against this costly, misguided, ineffective, regulatory overreach by OSHA. MO-AG has worked directly with Sen. Blunt and his staff regarding this issue in addition to our national affiliates, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI). ARA and TFI are leading the charge to once again put language in the FY17 appropriations bill to prevent OSHA from implementing PSM (see attached letters to the House and the Senate). In addition, ARA and TFI are taking legal action to prevent OSHA from implementing its PSM on anhydrous ammonia facilities. We greatly appreciate the support of all.
Déjà vu at the State Capitol?
Last year, the republican majority in the Missouri Senate took up and pushed through the 'right to work' issue. As a result, Senate democrats block proceedings and a lot of legislation was left on the Senate floor. This year is starting to have an eerie, familiar feeling. On March 9th, the Missouri Senate took up SJR 39 which regards religious liberty and gay marriage. SJR 39 was muscled through by republicans after a record-breaking filibuster by democrats. After which, the Senate democrats promised to block further proceeding and the Senate took no further votes on any bills and only took up one bill for debate.
There is much speculation about how the Senate will move forward now-if at all. Fertilizer legislation, which MO-AG supports, has made good progress but could be again at risk if work at the Capitol grinds to a halt. The legislature is currently in spring break and the hope of some is that tempers will cool and they will get back to work, though at an admittedly slower pace.
For more information on MO-AG's legislation of interest, CLICK HERE.
GE Labeling Bill Stalls
Whether to force companies to disclose information about genetically engineered (GE) ingredients on their food/feed product labels or allow them to voluntarily disclose such information split the Senate down the middle as Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) watched his compromise legislation to provide a voluntary federal solution to the state labeling challenge fail to get the votes to cut off debate and move to final action.
The political and industry reaction to the vote was swift, focusing on disappointment, but also characterizing the lack of action as a vote against U.S. agriculture. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) called the vote "inexcusable." Said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president, "To say we're angry with those senators who abandoned farmers and ranchers and turned their backs on rural America on this vote is an understatement." The Senate is on a two-week Easter recess. Roberts and his supporters have pledged to continue to work toward a bipartisan solution so the bill can be revisited when the Senate returns. Source: AFIA
Editor's Note: Missouri's Senators split on this vote. Senator Roy Blunt supported agriculture's position on this issue (voted 'yea' for cloture). MO-AG was disappointed to see Senator Clair McCaskill vote 'nay' on the cloture. CLICK HERE to see vote summary.
Stabenow Sides With Organics After Fundraiser
Organic industry executives held a fundraiser for Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow - the Senate's leading Democrat on agriculture issues - just days before the chamber was set to take up a controversial bill with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line for U.S. food companies. The event for Stabenow - the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee - in Anaheim, California, was co-hosted by Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb, Stonyfield Farms Chairman Gary Hirshberg, Organic Valley CEO George Siemon and Laura Batcha, head of the Organic Trade Association. After the fundraiser, Stabenow sided with organic food companies and came out against the bill, authored by Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). Source: Politico
EPA Disturbs CLA
CropLife America (CLA) is surprised and disturbed to learn the EPA has a plan to convene a Science Advisory Panel (SAP) next month to consider the use of flawed epidemiology studies in pesticide regulation. This breaks with long-established Agency standards for sound scientific risk assessment and fails to address concerns expressed in previous SAPs convened by the agency. EPA's long-standing practice has been to use epidemiology studies, not to set regulatory standards, but as a basis for requiring additional regulatory guideline studies and, potentially, further investigation. This practice reflects a recognition that epidemiology studies, by their observational nature, are not appropriate for use in regulatory decision-making for pesticides. Source: AgProfessional
Corn Acres Outpace Expectations for 2016
Producers are switching more acres away from soybeans and toward corn than previously expected, two analysts tell U.S. Farm Report. The news is based on survey data and comes on the heels of Allendale's 2016 acreage survey. "It did affect the market a little bit on the soybeans," says Bill Biedermann, Allendale, in an interview with "U.S. Farm Report" host Tyne Morgan. "There was a little bounce in response to that because soybean acreage did come down just a little bit from what most people were saying before. It's going to be fairly close. Last year, we had 82.7 [million acres], this year we're looking at 82.5 [million] or 82.6 million acres. When you translate that into carryover with trendline yield, you're probably looking at a slight decline in carryover."
In the past 30 to 60 days, he says, acreage plans have shifted as farmers dig into their numbers for the year ahead. "What we're hearing in our winter meeting circuit is more corn acres than we originally thought back in December, for example, post-harvest," says Brian Basting, Advance Trading. "I think a lot of that's being seen in the northern Plains, for example, even some of the rotations being tweaked a little bit in the Midwest, rotations that swung more toward soybeans when soybeans were very favorable the last couple of years, are swinging back toward corn. Not an aggressive increase, but more than we thought a month ago, for sure." Time and weather will tell whether those crop-mix switches pan out and, if so, how they will affect carryout. Source: AgProfessional
ResponsibleAg Growing and Recruiting
The ResponsibleAg organization announced its "registered retail facilities is now in excess of 1,900," and the executive director has seen a "marked uptick in participation," which he expects to continue.
"We are quickly becoming the 'go to' organization for retail compliance assistance tools and assessments," said the executive director, Bill Qualls.
The 1,900 facilities are receiving a comprehensive compliance evaluation, as well as access to comprehensive compliance resources. The registration fee for this service is $150, which was set at a level to encourage participation.
There are at least 10 reasons for retail facilities to participate in ResponsibleAg, according to the organization's leadership. Those are:
1.Avoid OSHA, DOT, DHS and EPA violations and fines.
2.Avoid employee injuries.
3.Prepare for emergency response.
4.Avoid transportation incidents.
5.Enhance facility and operational security.
6.Avoid facility fires.
7.Reduce workers compensation cost.
8.Reduce insurance costs.
9.Support stewardship goals.
10.Protect and enhance a company's reputation.
More facts and information about joining ResponsibleAg are available at www.ResponsibleAg.org.
EPA Proposes to Update RMP Requirements
Prompted by President Obama's Executive Order 13650, EPA is proposing to revise its Risk Management Program (RMP). This proposed rule addresses what appears to be 10 of 19 potential changes the agency sought information on in their July 2014
Request For Information. Citing the RMP requirements have been successful in reducing the number of accidental releases, the agency has focused their efforts on incident investigation, coordination with local emergency responders and third-party compliance audits designed to target those facilities that have accidental releases. Noticeably absent from this proposed rulemaking is the addition of newly regulated substances to the RMP list such as ammonium nitrate and propane. EPA may propose listing additional regulated substances in a separate action. At first glance, EPA proposes to revise the RMP requirements by:
• Adding/expanding certain data elements.•
• Requiring third-party compliance audits for facilities that have incidents.•
• Supporting OSHA's PSM coverage on RMP applicability.
• Requiring a Safer Technology & Alternatives Analysis for processes within NAICS codes 322, 324 and 325.•
• Requiring periodic emergency drills/exercises to test a facility's emergency response program.
• Increasing awareness and importance of facility siting.•
• Requiring periodic coordination and sharing of information with local responders.
• Adding/expanding requirements associated with incident investigation.•
• Proposing the public disclosure of facility information.
• Streamlining certain RMP requirements.
At this time it appears EPA passed on requiring detection equipment, worst case scenario quantities for nurse tanks, basing off
-site consequence analysis on acute exposure guidelines and changing to a "Safety case" regulatory model. The existing Program Levels 1, 2 and 3 remained unchanged.
EPA reported that in the last 10 years more than 1,500 accidents were reported by RMP facilities. These accidents are responsible for causing nearly 60 deaths, some 17,000 people being injured or seeking medical treatment, almost 500,000 people being evacuated or sheltered-in-place and costing more than $2 billion in property damages. Click here to download a copy of the Proposed Rule. The public will have 60 days from publication in the Federal Register to submit written comments online at www.regulations.gov or by mail. Source: Asmark Institute
OSHA Expected to Update the PSM Requirements
Also prompted by President Obama's Executive Order 13650, OSHA is the next agency up in proposing to revise its Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard. While both the RMP and PSM proposed rules have been delayed by a few months, expect OSHA to publish their update this summer. Want to see what OSHA is likely to propose, check out their December 2013 Request For Information by clicking here. Source: Asmark Institute
Court Settlement: EPA to Write Spill Prevention Rule
Heralded as significant news, EPA is agreeing in a settlement with citizen groups to write a major new chemical plant safety rule. EPA will put in place new safeguards to help protect communities from dangerous chemical spills at tens of thousands of industrial facilities nationwide, under the terms of a legal settlement approved by a federal district court in New York. The agreement is meant to strengthen protections as called for by Congress more than four decades ago. Click here to read the legal settlement.
The settlement with EPA, approved by the federal district court for the Southern District of New York, requires EPA to begin a rulemaking process immediately and to finalize spill prevention rules within three and a half years. The forthcoming protections will cover over 350 hazardous chemicals, and will apply broadly to tens of thousands of industrial facilities across the country. There are thousands of hazardous substance spills each year from industrial facilities that are not subject to any hazardous substance spill prevention rules, according to United States Coast Guard data from the last ten years. The chemical involved in the Freedom Industries spill in West Virginia is not listed as a hazardous substance under the Clean Water Act ... and thus would not be covered under the hazardous-substance regulations plaintiffs seek in this case. But the Freedom Industries spill brought to national attention the broader threat posed by the lack of spill-prevention regulations for chemical storage facilities like above-ground storage tanks.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is examining this EPA rulemaking issue as part of its broader investigation of Freedom Industries. In October of 2013, at the request of the company, consultants performed a review of the tank terminals located in Charleston and Nitro.
The evaluation was conducted and approved by an API-653 and 570 certified inspector, who also was credentialed as a National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) Certified Corrosion Technologist. The review notes that the substances stored in tank 396 are considered "non hazardous" by EPA and are therefore not regulated by the federal Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan (SPCC)rule. The review further notes that the tanks have "been maintained to some structural adequacy, but not necessarily in full compliance with API-653 or EPA standards. "API-653 is considered the prevailing voluntary good practice for aboveground storage tank (AST) inspection, repair, alteration and repair, and was developed to establish a uniform national program that assists state and local governments in AST regulations.
EPA is moving forward with proposing a chemical spill prevention rule to address hazardous substances under the Clean Water Act and soliciting public comment on such a proposal. The language from the legal settlement states: