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July 17-18, 2014
MO-AG Summer Meeting;
Lake Ozark, MO

October 28, 2014
Professional Applicator Training;
Cape Girardeau, MO

October 30, 2014
Professional Applicator Training;
Columbia, MO

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Our Mission

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."

 

2014 Pyramid of MO-AG Program Sponsors

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MO-AG Minute

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News You Can Use

Current Status of UAVs (Drones)
The FAA bans commercial use of drones no matter how seemingly benign. FAA officials say rules to address the special safety challenges associated with unmanned aircraft need to be in place before they can share the sky with manned aircraft.  Unless FAA officials receive a complaint or chance upon a news story that mentions drone flights, they have little ability to find out about violations. The ban was further undercut this month when a federal judge dismissed the only fine the FAA has imposed on a commercial drone operator. The judge said the agency can't enforce regulations that don't exist.  The FAA, which contends it controls access to the national air space, has appealed.
 
The drone industry and some members of Congress are worried the United States will be one of the last countries, rather than one of the first, to gain the economic benefits of the technology.  "We don't have the luxury of waiting another 20 years," said Paul McDuffee, vice president of drone-maker Insitu of Bingen, Wash., a subsidiary of Boeing. "This industry is exploding. It's getting to the point where it may end up happening with or without the FAA's blessing."
 
In Japan, the Yamaha Motor Company's RMAX helicopter drones have been spraying crops for 20 years. The radio-controlled drones weighing 140 pounds are cheaper than hiring a plane and are able to more precisely apply fertilizers and pesticides. They fly closer to the ground and their backwash enables the spray to reach the underside of leaves.  The helicopters went into use five years ago in South Korea and last year in Australia.
 
Jim Williams, head of the FAA's drone office, said writing rules for the U.S. is more complex than other nations. The U.S. has far more air traffic than anywhere else and a greater variety of aircraft, from hot-air balloons and old-fashioned barnstormers to the most sophisticated airliners and military and business jets. At low altitudes, the concern is a small drone could collide with a helicopter or small plane flown by a recreational pilot. Source:  AP

 

Blunt Condemns EPA/COE Rule
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) condemned the draft Clean Water Act rule released this week by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (COE). The rule would reportedly give the federal government regulatory authority over millions of acres of wetlands and streams by greatly expanding its authority over Waters of the United States.  Blunt stated "This proposed rule would have a devastating impact on Missouri farm families.  I will fight the EPA's proposal and I will keep fighting the Obama Administration's attempts to takeover Americans' private properties."
Source:  Senator Roy Blunt Press Release
 
Congress on WOTUS
The Obama administration will receive no funding to support its proposed rule to define the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act if the administration does not first provide Congress with cost estimates and other details, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, warned during a March 26 hearing.  "There will be not a penny for that program unless we know in advance the cost of putting it in place, and determine who owns what portions of those streams, and a lot more details," Rogers said.  The lawmaker's reference to "that program" was a reminder that Congress can block a rule by specifying through appropriations that no money can be spent on developing or enforcing the rule.  Rogers was addressing Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, during a hearing of the Committee. The Corps and the EPA jointly developed the proposed rule.
 
"You don't have any idea what it would cost?" Rogers asked.  "Not at this time," Darcy said. There had been "general discussions on the cost overall," she said, but the discussions had not delved into such details as the expense of mapping affected areas and determining ownership of the areas.  The rule would not only apply to navigable rivers and their tributaries and adjacent wetlands but to intermittent or ephemeral streams and artificial channels if they can flow with water that could reach a navigable river.  The rule also would allow the EPA and the Corps to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to regulate geographically isolated water bodies and wetlands based on how they are judged to affect the physical, biological and chemical integrity of navigable waters.
 
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, speaking March 26 during a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the proposed rule does not take away "a single agricultural exemption that current exists" under federal law.  Senate Democrats acknowledged the proposal would impose compliance costs but argued the costs of dirty water would be significantly higher. They also argued strongly that the EPA was well-within its authority to propose the new water regulation.  "The cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action. Many studies have shown that the cost of dirty water is far higher than the compliance costs," Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said. Boxer added that she hasn't yet reviewed the rule.
 
Legislation known as the Defense of Environment and Property Act aims to cut back the federal government's authority to regulate wetlands.  Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, who introduced the bill, said the legislation would rein in the EPA.  American Rivers, a non-profit environmental group, explained what it saw as drawbacks of the bill stating "It forces the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to get specific permission from States before doing anything to control pollution or protect land and water resources - essentially disrupting the careful balance of state and federal responsibility for land and water management." Sources:  BNA & Water Online
 
Food Safety Modernization Act implementation
Margaret Hamburg fielded a flurry of questions from Republican senators anxious about the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.  The FDA's commissioner opened the 90-minute hearing by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee by recounting how her agency issued no less than seven major FSMA rules last year and pleading again for more money. But the committee members were less interested in talking about FDA's funding problem and instead wanted to focus more on the regs themselves. In particular, the GOP lawmakers expressed concerns about FDA not following the letter of the law in issuing all the FSMA regulations.
 
"I have heard a number of concerns from food producers about the overly prescriptive framework considering the preventive controls for human food,' Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) Enzi said. "What concerns me even more is that it doesn't appear the FDA has adhered to the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act by publicizing the proposed rule."

Hamburg said she had not heard the concern. "If anything," she added, "I think we have really done a remarkable job of outreach and engagement and taking comments and responding to comments. I will go back and ask some questions about that." Source:  Politico

Koster Leads
In 2008, HSUS succeeded in passing a ballot initiative in California that would ban farmers from housing egg-laying hens in enclosures that are too small for the birds to lie down, stand up or fully spread their wings. Two years later, the California legislature extended the regulation to all eggs sold in the state, effectively imposing the regulations on any state wishing to sell eggs in California.
 
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster sued to block California's law on Feb. 3 saying it would hurt his state's egg producers, which sell about a third of their eggs in California.  Missouri attorneys said in a court filing that farmers there would face the choice of spending $120 million to bring their henhouses into compliance or having to forgo sales in California.  The lawsuit contends the law violates Constitutional provisions allowing free commerce among the states.  Officials representing Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Alabama recently joined it.
 
Joe Maxwell, HSUS Agriculture Director and former Missouri Lt. Governor, in an interview with Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WNAX, claimed Nebraska shouldn't complain that California requires other states to meet its standards to sell eggs in the state.  "I would expect that the governor and the Attorney General there should look at their own laws and look at which ones those in place that protect their own producers before they go out and make those broad statements.  I believe very strongly in states having the ability and a sovereign right to regulate to some degree their industry," Maxwell stated. "In this case, the evidence is clear that chickens in barren battery cages for which California has outlawed have a greater propensity to have salmonella and the state of California should have the right as it sees fit to protect its citizens."
 
In a separate news release, HSUS asserted the right of states to regulate agriculture. HSUS stated in the news release California has a right under the Constitution to regulate or eliminate "an unsafe and inhumane products from its local market, regardless of the product's place of origin."
Source:  Wall Street Journal & Nebraska Radio Network
  
 
Missouri River Lawsuit
Enduring four floods in seven years, farmers, property owners and small businesses along the Missouri River say there's no longer any flood protection. They are suing the U.S. government for failing to protect their property and not providing just compensation.  "For decades, these Missouri River residents invested their fortunes and futures in developing farms, businesses and communities on this land in reliance on the corps managing the river in a way that would deter flooding," said R. Dan Boulware, a member of the St. Joseph Bar, plaintiffs' lead counsel and a partner in the Polsinelli law firm. "Valuable farm ground is being permanently destroyed and a way of life is now threatened."
 
A lawsuit will be filed which includes more than 200 plaintiffs from Northwest Missouri, Northeast Kansas, eastern Nebraska, western Iowa and South Dakota. The suit seeks damages believed to be in excess of $250 million.  The suit alleges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now manages the Missouri River to preserve endangered species habitat rather than control flooding.  The claims seek compensation under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  "The Constitution essentially says that, if you are going to make people sacrifice their property for a public good, like protection of native species of wildlife, then you have to pay them just compensation," stated Benjamin Brown, a co-counsel and partner with Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll of Washington, D.C., the other legal firm representing the plaintiffs. Source:  St. Joseph News-Press

 

Examining OSHA
Business representatives painted a portrait of OSHA as a runaway agency that routinely short-circuits the rulemaking process to ram through its agenda during a recent House subcommittee hearing.
Many of its actions amount to substantive changes that evade impact analysis, public comment or clearance from other administration agencies that ordinarily serve as a check, said Brad Hammock, an attorney testifying on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Hammock pointed to OSHA's December 2013 memo instructing regional administrations on how to enforce the combustible dust requirement in the hazard communication regulation and its October 2013 online posting of annotated permissible exposure limits as further examples of the agency's overreach.
 
Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), the committee chairman, said these actions reflect OSHA chief David Michaels' "frustration with the rules he must follow before imposing new regulations on workplaces."
According to Walberg, Michaels has "promised to find creative solutions to adopt his policy priorities, and that is precisely what the agency is now doing."  Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) noted that it takes OSHA between 7 and 19 years to issue new standards.
 
Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation and a corn farmer in Volga, S.D., told the panel that a June 2011 OSHA memo pulled small family farms involved in grain operations-which had largely been exempted from OSHA enforcement since 1976-under the agency's purview.  "Rather than working cooperatively with industry, OSHA apparently reached the conclusion that it was preferable to penalize small farmers through enforcement," VanderWal said.  Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor Jordan Barab announced Jan. 22 that OSHA would review its farm inspection guidelines.
 
In other OSHA news, at another meeting, OSHA chief David Michaels said recently that the agency is changing the way it counts inspections to take into account the fact that "not all inspections are created equal."  Michaels said OSHA will use two systems of crediting the work of inspectors during 2014: the old system of giving each inspection equal weight-regardless of its complexity-and the new system based on "inspection units," which factors in the time and resources involved. The agency will then move fully to the new system in 2015.  Michaels also discussed OSHA's online tools to help employers switch to safer chemicals. Source: BNA
 
Comment Deadline Extended
In this MO-AG Minute cover picture, MO-AG Chairman Rex Meyr is testifying in support of HCR20 which urges deregulation of crop protection technologies such as the Dow AgroSciences Enlist 2,4-D system.  In the last edition of the MO-AG Minute, we made you aware of your opportunity to take action for crop protection technology and to make comments to the USDA-APHIS supporting deregulation for Enlist 2,4-D.  The comment period has been extended and will remain open through March 11, 2014. USDA states that this is being done in response to stakeholder requests to provide additional time for comments.
 
Again, Dow's Enlist 2,4-D system is one of the new crop protection technologies being made available to combat weed resistance.  MO-AG supports the deregulation of this product as it has for other products going through this regulatory process.  MO-AG would strongly encourage you to make comments to the USDA asking that they no longer delay and allow these important products to go to market.  To provide comments, go to the regulations.gov website by clicking here:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=APHIS-2013-0042-0050
 
From this screen on the USDA-APHIS website, you can type your comments directly.  Or if you prefer to provide a letter, you can attached a file with your letter from this screen as well.  To view a copy of an example letter you could use as a template for your letter, CLICK HERE.   To view of copy of MO-AG's letter that were sent to USDA-APHIS, CLICK HERE.  Finally, more information about Enlist can be found at this website:  http://www.enlist.com/

 
OSHA Addresses Fertilizer Safety in Letter
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is partnering with the Agricultural Retailers Association and The Fertilizer Institute to reach more than 7,000 agricultural retailers, distributers, producers and other facilities in the fertilizer industry to remind employers of the importance of safely storing and handling ammonium nitrate.  In the letter, OSHA provides employers with legal requirements and best practice recommendations for safely storing and handling ammonium nitrate.
 
To view a copy of the letter, CLICK HERE
Source:  OSHA News Release
 
Ohio Law Would Require Fertilizer Application Certification
Ohio commodity groups are supporting changes to legislation that will require one farmer per farm operation to be certified to apply fertilizer.  The bill (SB 150) has passed the Ohio Senate and was expected to be considered in the House.  "The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) and Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) take the issue of water quality in our state very seriously and began actively working with legislators on SB 150 since it was introduced in 2013," says farmer and OSA president Jerry Bambauer.
 
Fertilizer certification would piggyback onto the pesticide certification that farmers already go through and will not include added fees.  Last year, farmers and other agricultural organizations announced that they are investing over $1 million to support a study to investigate phosphorus use in farming.  USDA is adding another $1 million to support the research financed by the Ohio Soybean Council, Ohio Corn Marketing Program, Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program, and others. Source:  agriculture.com
 
Missouri AG Koster Support State Authority
Attorneys general from 21 states are urging a federal appellate court to overturn EPA's Clean Water Act nutrient rules for the Chesapeake Bay, arguing that the standards are illegal and, if left in place, could pave the way for the agency to set similar requirements in other watersheds, including the massive Mississippi River Basin.
 
"EPA's untenable interpretation of its authority under the CWA has unlawfully usurped States' traditional authority over land-use management decisions," argue State AGs Gregory Zoeller of Indiana, Chris Koster of Missouri and Derek Schmidt of Kansas in an amicus brief filed last week.  The case is being heard by Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in Philadelphia.  "Its actions have profound consequences for every state and cannot be squared with the CWA."
 
EDITORS NOTE - Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG) intervened in the Mississippi River Basin lawsuit on nutrient criteria and awaits results of final appeals in court.
Source:  Politico
 
Corn Ethanol RFS Battle Heats Up
The EPA has proposed a rule that would result in a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in how much corn ethanol will be required under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  Those interested in making comments on EPA's proposed rule (EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0479) have until January 28th to do so.  Comments can be made by hitting the 'comment now' button at:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0479
 
Leading up to the RFS decision, the ethanol debate has escalated.  Some have suggested that more ethanol will result in more pollution from fertilizer runoff.  MO-AG's national affiliate, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), described this as "character assassination without cause."  Going further, TFI stated "Working with farmers, the fertilizer industry has aggressively promoted best management practices to ensure that fertilizer is used in a manner that maximizes food production while protecting the environment. In fact, U.S. farmers produce 87 percent more corn than they did in 1980, using 4 percent fewer fertilizer nutrients. This speaks to agriculture's ability to improve sustainability by increasing productivity efficiently. Through the use of 4R nutrient stewardship (use of the right fertilizer source at the right rate at the right time and in the right place) farmers continue to build on past success.   "
 
The Missouri Corn Growers Association has information on the RFS issue on their website at www.mocorn.org/rfs and the National Corn Growers Association has extensive information on their website as well at http://www.ncga.com/rfs.

 

Comments Due On RFS

In the last MO-AG minute, we covered the fact that the EPA has proposed a rule that would result in a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in corn ethanol required under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). 
For those interested in making comments on EPA's proposed rule (EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0479), you have only a short time to do so.  Comments are due by 11:59pm on January 28th.  Comments can be made by hitting the 'comment now' button at:  http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0479

In the previous article, we stated that information on the RFS issue can be found from the Missouri Corn Growers Association on their website at www.mocorn.org/rfs and the National Corn Growers Association website as well at http://www.ncga.com/rfs.  As with any legislative issue, there are generally at least two sides.  This is also true regarding the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS)    MO-AG also has members who have concerns about the RFS and believe strongly in its reform.  For more information from those with this point of view, click on:  www.smarterfuel.org  This website is associated with Missouri Poultry Federation, various other egg and dairy producer groups, as well as the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers .  These groups state that rising food prices from increased ethanol production have increased costs for meat and poultry producers and others.  Information from academia can also be found.  Analysis by the Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) can be found here CLICK HERE. Among other details, this 16-page report discusses how lower E85 prices and adding more E85 pumps beyond the 2,500 stations across the country could help meet the RFS.  
 
Economist Opine on Ethanol and Corn Usage
The Renewable Fuels Standard for corn-based ethanol has been a very important driver in the increased demand for corn.  At least that was the case, Purdue Extension ag economist Chris Hurt says, until the 2010 crop.  "There we reached about 5 billion bushels of corn and basically we've been about that level in the '11 crop, the '12 crop was the drought crop so we weren't able to use quite that much," he says.  "For the 2013 crop the USDA has estimated 4.9 billion bushels for corn use."  Even though EPA has proposed a reduction in the RFS, national corn use for ethanol may not drop below the 4.9 billion bushel estimate from USDA.  "It looks like we'll use about 132 billion gallons of gasoline next year, 10 percent of that coming from ethanol," he says.  "The second thing we have is it looks like exports will do fairly well this year and imports of ethanol are going to be down, or near zero."
 
When you put those two figures together, the 10 percent blend of ethanol (which accounts for 4.85 billion bushels of corn) and 150- 200 million bushels used for exports of ethanol, Hurt says that gets us back to the USDA number of 5 billion bushels of corn used for ethanol.  And that means USDA, he says, should NOT lower their corn usage for ethanol number. Source:  Brownfield
 
OSHA Focuses on Farmer-owned Grain Bins
Nebraska U.S. Senator Mike Johanns is demanding that OSHA stop harassing small, family-run farms.  Since 1976, Congress has included language in appropriations bills prohibiting OSHA enforcement actions against farmers with ten or fewer employees.  But Johanns says the agency recently violated that rule when it assessed a $132,000 fine against a Holt County, Nebraska farm-a farm with only one non-family employee-for grain bin safety violations.
 
"OSHA accused the farmer of willful violations.  Let me give you a couple of examples-failure to conduct atmospheric tests in a grain bin and failure to wear OSHA-approved gear when entering a grain bin, just to name a few.  Johanns accuses OSHA of "making up its own rules" and that "OSHA's claim that the storage of grain is not part of farming is absolutely incredible-it's absurd.  It's also a blatant overreach in violation of the law." Source:  Brownfield
 

OSHA Announces Local Emphasis Program (LEP) Targeting Fertilizer Facilities

For more information on the upcoming inspections of agricultural facilities as part of the OSHA LEP, please see OSHA's press release. CLICK HERE.  Although OSHA has issued this press release announcing the LEP, to our knowledge, the LEP itself has yet to be released.  However, in discussions we have had with OSHA staff, we believe that all agribusiness facilities are possible candidates for inspection and that all aspects of possible violations will be examined.  Areas of concerns could include:  dust-fire and breathable hazard, confined spaces, corrosiveness of fertilizer on buildings, machine guards, fall hazards, noise hazards, treated feed/seed chemical hazard in regards to employee interaction, electrical safety, and NFPA 70E (Arc Flash).  Regarding AN in particular, all of OSHA regulation 1910 could possibly be enforced including 1910.109(i).

We are uncertain as to the details and specifics regarding how OSHA will conduct its inspections and to what standards agricultural facilities will be held to in regards to AN specifically.  We have been engaging OSHA and our national affiliates on this question.  President Obama's Executive Order on chemical safety has the agencies reviewing all its policies at the same time that this LEP will conducted.

We do have reason to believe that the advisory "Chemical Advisory: Safe Storage, Handling, and Management of Ammonium Nitrate" which was sent out by the EPA, OSHA, and ATF in August 2013 will generally guide the agencies expectations of agricultural facilities.  Please CLICK HERE to review a copy of the advisory.  You may note that the advisory uses language such as "strongly recommend", "avoid", "if possible", etc.  We would especially draw your attention to these statements in the advisory:

*  We would strongly recommend that you review your facility's operations in regards to AN storage and handling and the management of combustible material such as grain dust and seeds.
 
*  Pure ammonium nitrate is stable and will explode only under extraordinary circumstances. However, the addition of combustible materials such as sugar, grain dust, seed husks or other organic contaminants, even in fairly low percentages, creates a dangerous combination and the ammonium nitrate mixture becomes far more susceptible to detonation. Avoid contamination of AN with combustible materials or organic substances such as packing materials, dust, seed, oils, and waxes.  If possible, do not co-locate AN, especially bulk AN in bins, with dust-producing organics such as grains or seeds.

*  Store AN fertilizer in separate buildings or separated by approved fire walls from organic, combustible or reactive materials, such as grains, wood or other organic materials.

*  AN should also be handled in accordance with safe practices found in NFPA 400 Hazardous Materials Code, Chapter 11.

*  AN stores should be separated from incompatible substances by using separate buildings or 1 - hour fire resistant walls, or a minimum separation distance of 30 feet.

*  AN storage areas should be equipped with an automatic sprinkler system, or have an automatic fire detection and alarm system if the areas are not continuously occupied. This is especially important when the facility in question is close to the public surrounding the facility.

*  Suitable fire control devices such as hoses and appropriate portable fire extinguishers shall be provided throughout the warehouse and loading areas. Water supplies and fire hydrants should be available.

Again, MO-AG recommends that you review this entire advisory CLICK HERE.

 

Four Rs in KC                                                                                                                            

Increased scrutiny by the EPA on farm nutrient management has The Fertilizer Institute emphasizing to growers the 4Rs for nutrient management and stewardship.  Kathy Mathers is the Institute's vice president of public affairs and tells Brownfield Ag News, "It involves the use of the right fertilizer source, the right rate, the right time, and, in the right place. And, I would be willing to bet that all of your listeners are already doing that."
 
The Fertilizer Institute, National Corn Growers Association and the American Farm Bureau recently lost their lawsuit against the EPA in federal court. The judge ruled that the agency DOES have the authority to regulate runoff going into the Chesapeake Bay. But the groups are appealing, "You know, really what is at issue ultimately is whether or not EPA has the ability to really almost go down to a farm by farm and mandate nutrient management practices."
 
Mathers says there are signs in the Upper Mississippi River Basin that the EPA may be listening, "About 60% of all fertilizer in the country is used in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. EPA right now actually has stood back a little bit and the environmental groups are suing EPA to see if it can't become a little more strict with water quality there so it's a little bit of a turnabout from what's happening in the Chesapeake Bay."
Mathers says agriculture is not a leak-less system, that they do lose some nutrients into the environment but there are things farmers can be doing to minimize those losses and make the most for their fertilizer dollar.  Brownfield interviewed Mathers at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention in Kansas City.
 
Editor's note:  MO-AG has been granted intervenor status in the Upper Mississippi lawsuit. Source:  Brownfield

 

OSHA Uses Crystal Ball to Cite West Fertilizer

While ATF investigators say that ammonium nitrate was detonated in the explosion at the West Fertilizer plant, they don't know how the blast was initiated. They say the origin of the fire that preceded the explosion was in the fertilizer and seed building, but the cause of the fire has not been determined. ATF officials still consider the site a crime scene, preventing the Chemical Safety Board from conducting a thorough investigation into the cause - so we will probably never know with any certainty actually what happened. OSHA, on the other hand, seemed to have used their crystal ball to conjure up 24 violations totaling $118,000 notably during the recent shutdown of the government. OSHA's actions are reprehensible, especially considering many of the violations are based on 29 CFR 1910.109, the explosives standard which has not been proven to be applicable to an agricultural facility like West to begin with. Source: Asmark


 
MF Global Court Ruling

It's been two years since $1.6B vanished from the accounts of MF Global customers but now it appears those customers will recover what they lost. A federal bankruptcy court judge has approved a plan that would close the remaining shortfall for some 20,000 customers. The trustee overseeing the return of customer money, James Giddens, had recovered money and gradually disbursed it to clients. But in the face of a roughly $230M gap, Giddens recently petitioned Judge Martin Glenn to free up remaining funds from MF Global Incorporated's general estate.  In agreeing, the judge has cleared the way for Giddens to make customers whole possibly by the end of the year. Ahead of the judge's ruling, Giddens said it seemed inconceivable in the opening moments of the liquidation proceeding that the possibility of 100-percent return of property owed to former MF Global customers would even be considered. The judge agreed stating that nobody thought the customers would recover everything they lost.
Source: NAFB News Service


 
Prize Winning Scientist: Embrace GMOs

Dr. Marc Van Montagu is Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach at Ghent University in Belgium and is the co-recipient of the 2013 World Food Prize.  In addition to his own knowledge and expertise, Dr. Van Montagu's perspective is backed with years of scientific evidence refuting false accusations made against GM foods. He writes, "It seems to me that much of the resistance to GM foods isn't based on science, but may be ideological and political, based on fears of 'corporate profiteering' and 'Western colonialism.'"  By 2050, experts predict our world population will have increased by one-third to 9.6 billion, begging the question; will we have enough food for everyone?
 
Dr. Van Montagu says advancements in GMO technology have been met with strong opposition from "the same thoughtful people who tend to dismiss climate-change skeptics as 'anti-science.'" One has to wonder; why continue to combat GMO's when studies prove their safety, time and time again?  Under strict government regulations, GM biotechnology "offers an unparalleled safety record and demonstrated commercial success." Dr. Van Montagu worries that the industry may not reach its full potential, facing the "labeling" movement to single out modified food from other food on grocery store shelves.
Source:  Protect the Harvest


 
ANTI-GMO Measure Defeated

Following the defeat of the anti-GMO Initiative 522 in the state of Washington, BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood stated "Just like 27 million voters in California and Oregon, Washington voters saw how this burdensome and deceptive labeling scheme would have created more state bureaucracy, imposed new costs and burdens on local farmers and businesses, and increased food prices for Washington families.  Food labels should convey valuable and accurate information to consumers.  We will continue to explore solutions that provide consumers with valuable information about the foods we eat.  One example is the GMO Answers website, where consumers' questions about GMOs and how our food is grown are asked and answered in a timely manner.  Other informational resources include statements from credible scientific groups such as the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, among others."
Source: BIO


 
Ethanol Debate Heats Up - Part1

For years, corn ethanol has been a centerpiece of America's green energy strategy. President Obama and his administration have described this homegrown fuel as a way to reduce greenhouse gases and to wean the country off foreign sources of oil. But the ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today. As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies.  Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil. Sprayers pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some of which seeped into drinking water, contaminated rivers and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can't survive. The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. But the Obama administration stands by it, highlighting its benefits to the farming industry rather than any negative impact."
Source:  Associated Press


 
Ethanol Debate Heats Up - Part2

The Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy are speaking out against draft legislation that would reportedly eliminate the conventional ethanol portion of the renewable fuels standard (RFS). The legislation is expected to be introduced by Sens. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla.  Feinstein's office was able to confirm that the senator is working on a bill related to the RFS. However, her press office was unable to offer any additional details on the legislation. It is unclear when the bill could be introduced.
 
Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA, called the legislation "monumentally stupid," noting that eliminating the conventional ethanol portion of the RFS would eliminate the opportunity to commercialize new technologies and feedstocks.  Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, is also critical of the draft bill.  "This legislation is incredibly short-sighted. This legislation is nothing more than a job killer that will also gravely damage innovation and the robust rural economy.
Source:  EPM

  

Gov. Nixon Urges Corps To Stop Work On Missouri River Project 

In a letter to Army Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy, Nixon said the Corps needs to obtain independent findings that shallow-water habit projects will help the pallid sturgeon and won't cause harm. Until that happens, Nixon said last week, the corps should discontinue work at Jameson Island near the village of Arrow Rock and not begin work on similar projects.

Concerns and delays stem from the corps' plans to put much of the dirt excavated to create the new habitat into the river. The corps and environmental groups say researchers have determined the soil dumping won't cause trouble and note the pallid sturgeon evolved to live in large, silt-filled rivers.  But farm groups fear that putting the fertilizer-laden soil into the river would contribute to a "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico. Experts blame the low-oxygen, or hypoxic, conditions primarily on farm fertilizer runoff brought by the Mississippi River, into which the Missouri River empties. The nutrients cause oxygen-depleting algae blooms.
Source:  St. Louis Post

Editor's Note - Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG) joined with other Missouri agricultural organizations and sent a letter to Governor Nixon last month urging him to intervene.  MO-AG thanks Governor Nixon for his actions.


 
Judge tells EPA To Decide Whether Regulations Needed For Farmland

The environmental groups are also members of the Mississippi River Collaborative, which asked EPA in a 2008 petition to set standards and cleanup plans for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution of the river.
Source:  Washington Post


 
Progress in Nutrient Runoff Reductions

"Achieving significant water quality improvements in water bodies as large as the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico takes time, and the increasing impacts of climate change such as more frequent extreme weather events pose additional challenges. The progress we've made across the board during the past five years provides an excellent foundation and we will work to accelerate our progress over the next five years," said Nancy Stoner, acting Assistant Administrator for Water for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and co-chair of the Task Force. Source:  EPA

 

Fertilizer Update
 
Yesterday, a Congressional subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing titled “West Fertilizer, Off the Grid: The Problem of Unidentified Chemical Facilities.”  Testifying at the hearing was Mr. David Wulf, Director of the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  During his testimony, Mr. Wulf mentioned contacting state agribusiness associations for assistance to insure compliance with CFATS regulations by agricultural facilitates.  I have indeed received a letter from Mr. Wulf (CLICK HERE). 
 
In his letter, Mr. Wulf states “Chemical security is a shared responsibility – your commitment, and that of your members, is essential to securing America’s high-risk chemical facilities.”   I agree with Mr. Wulf that chemical security is everyone’s responsibility and the Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG) is totally committed to do everything we can to facilitate compliance with regulations and improve security.  To that end, I implore all MO-AG members to insure you are in compliance with CFATS.  I am also asking you to help us identify those who you speculate are not MO-AG members but who might handle or store chemicals in their facilities. 
 
Mr. Wulf’s letter lists several sources of compliance assistance which includes contacting the CSAT help desk at 866-323-2957 (CLICK HERE).  You can also refer to this DHS fact sheet (CLICK HERE). 
 
Also, yesterday, President Obama issued an Executive Order directing federal agencies to improve operational coordination with state and local partners and to work with stakeholders to identify best practices. (CLICK HERE)  Specifically, the President directed agencies to develop a plan that identifies ways Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs), State regulators, and first responders have ready access to key information to prevent, prepare for, and respond to chemical incidents.  The President also directed federal agencies to engage industry and the first responder community to identify best practices to reduce safety and security risks
 
MO-AG supports these goals in President Obama’s Executive Order.  MO-AG has a history of working with LEPCs prior to the incident in West, Texas.  Since the incident in West, Texas, we have intensified our efforts to work with our federal, state, and local partners.  MO-AG was recently recognized for this effort.   
 


Mr. Bill Brinton (left), Chairman of the Missouri Emergency Response Commission, presents the “Industry Award” to Steve Taylor, President, Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG) during the July 2013 Region 7 Emergency Planning and Response Conference in Kansas City.
 
We know that good communications with the local LEPCs and local emergency responders is essential.  LEPCs need to know each one of our facilities and the products we store in our facilities.  We need to know the LEPCs and we need to know the capability of local emergency responders.  And if an incident occurs at one of our facilities, a plan of attack needs to be ready to be implemented.  We do not want to make a plan while an incident is occurring or has occurred.
 


MO-AG President Steve Taylor (left) joins a panel with George Hess of EPA Region 7 to discuss fertilizer safety with LEPC members, emergency response personnel, and others attending the Emergency Planning and Response Conference in Kansas City.
 
MO-AG is committed to continuing this important work with our government partners along with national affiliates, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI).  If you have any input, questions, or concerns, please, contact our office at Ph 573-636-6130 or at mo-ag@mo-ag.com.
 
Thank you,
 
Steve

  

 

Fertilizer Code of Practices

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) is partnering with the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) to develop a Fertilizer Code of Practice for agricultural retailers. Through this member-led intiative, retailers will be provided with tools based on existing regulation to ensure that fertilizers are safely handled and stored. The intiative will also include third-party inspections to ensure observance of the established guidelines. Development of the system will begin over the summer months of 2013.

 

The proposed structure envisions an over-arching umbrella organization for governance and to ensure consistency in guidelines and inspection/audit procedures.  Suppliers would register with the system, and encourage their brokers and distributors to do so, which would flow through the system to dealers.  It has been recommended that unmanned storage sites and potentially farmer-owned storage be included as well.  Dealers could also look up in the system to see if their suppliers or wholesalers are registered.

 

The code of practice initiative came as a result of discussions between ARA staff and association members, most recently at a meeting of interested parties earlier this week in Washington, D.C. In addition to TFI, more than 50 people representing producers, retailers, wholesalers, transportation companies, state associations and companies that assist retailers in regulatory compliance were in attendance. Source: TFI

  

ARA on EPCRA filing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Emergency Management is classifying any agricultural retailers that blend fertilizer as a manufacturer for reporting purposes under Section 312 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986.  Any agricultural retailer that blends (i.e. non-chemical reaction) dry fertilizer at their facility should include these products on an annual inventory report (Tier 2 report) that must be submitted to the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and the local fire department. The information must also be available to the public. Facilities must submit their Tier 2 reports by March 1 of each year. ARA recommends each facility review their Tier 2 reports to ensure information on all blended fertilizer stored on-site has been included.

 

For any hazardous chemical used or stored in the workplace, facilities must maintain a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for fertilizer stored on site, and submit the MSDSs (or list of the chemicals) to their SERC, LEPC, and local fire department. Under EPCRA Section 311, facilities must submit the same MSDSs they maintain for OSHA to these state and local agencies or submit a detailed list of the same chemicals instead. This is a one-time submittal; facilities have three months after becoming subject to the OSHA regulations to submit their material.  Under Section 312, facilities also need to submit an annual inventory report (Tier I or Tier II report) for the same chemicals. As stated earlier, this inventory report must be submitted on an annual basis to the SERC, LEPC and local fire department by March 1.
 
EPCRA provides for a "retail fertilizer" reporting exemption for "Any substance to the extent it is used in routine agricultural operations or is a fertilizer held for sale by a retailer to the ultimate customer."  Many agricultural retailers have historically chosen to claim this retail fertilizer exemption. However, EPA has cited agricultural retailers for incomplete Tier II forms  when the facility claimed the retail exemption for blended fertilizer, even in the case of non-hazardous fertilizers like potash. With EPA classifying agricultural retailers that blend fertilizer as fertilizer manufacturers under EPCRA, the retail exemption would not apply. ARA disagrees with EPA's interpretation as the plain statutory language appears very clear. However, given the agency's firm position and increased enforcement actions, ARA strongly recommends facilities include this information on the Tier II form. ARA will continue to work with EPA on a resolution, and work with Congress for a legislative correction to EPA's interpretation.

Source:  Agricultural Retailers Association

 

TFI, ARA Support Regulatory Compliance Assessment Tool

The following statement was released by Daren Coppock, president of the Agricultural Retailers Association and Ford West, president of The Fertilizer Institute. "The fertilizer industry continues to extend its thoughts and prayers to the people of West, Texas, who are grieving for those in their town who were lost or injured. We are watching closely as investigators determine what happened and upon a final determination of cause by the Chemical Safety Board we will work together to identify and apply any lessons learned. While that investigation continues, we are reaffirming our commitment to safe operations of fertilizer facilities by alerting the industry to the availability of an important tool to support compliance with existing federal regulations and associated best management practices.
 
"The online Compliance Assessment tool for agricultural retail facilities, developed by the non-profit Asmark Institute (http://www.asmark.org/), helps control risk and support the continual improvement of a retail dealer's regulatory compliance effort. We greatly appreciate the Asmark Institute's willingness to make this tool available free of charge to fertilizer retailers, and we encourage them to join with producers, importers, wholesalers and state fertilizer associations to help increase industry awareness of this and other means of regulatory compliance assistance. It is through the use of tools like this that we are taking steps to redouble our commitment to safety."
 
The Compliance Assessment Tool is available at https://www.asmark.org/ComplianceAssessmentTool

Source: AgProfessional

 

 

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