Ag Policy: Plenty Of Fertilizer Issues Ahead

It would be tough, if not impossible, to begin this column in any other way than with two words: West and Texas.

The April explosion in the small Texas town of West triggered a landslide of media and government attention aimed squarely at the fertilizer industry. That attention continues to this day and will no doubt impact an already packed policy agenda for 2014.

The repercussions of West were felt at the highest level of government as Congressional leaders quickly pushed the Obama Administration to take steps to improve coordination among Federal regulatory agencies. In August of last year, President Barak Obama issued an Executive Order that called for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to coordinate regulatory efforts with a specific focus on ammonium nitrate.

As a part of this process, these Federal agencies are holding listening sessions in Washington, DC, as well as in select states. TFI is participating in these sessions because the input from these sessions could very well impact any new regulations. Because first-hand testimony is so important in these situations, we are working with our allies in the state association community to support their participation as well.

In our listening session comments, we are expressing our support for the Administration’s initiative to improve coordination among government agencies in this area and asking agencies to re-examine existing regulations and practices. We are also pointing out that we have long supported reasonable regulations and further, have urged the Department of Homeland Security to finalize its new rules on secure handling of ammonium nitrate.

EPCRA To Vanish?

As a result of the West, TX, accident, the fertilizer retail exclusion for reporting under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) will likely disappear in 2014. The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has gone on the record as supporting removal of this exclusion. Particularly in the wake of West, we believe that it is incumbent on all retailers to report hazardous chemicals stored on site to emergency response organizations such as Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) and State Emergency Response Commissions (SERC) and to work with local fire departments without exception. However, we also expressed our belief that this reporting should be limited to hazardous chemicals so that emergency responders aren’t overburdened with unnecessary information.

Also, as recommended in the Executive Order, we support efforts to coordinate between state and federal agencies, cross-reference databases and federal coordination on inspections to minimize facility time and agency resources. We are asking all retailers who are not already doing so to contact local emergency responders and invite them into their facilities so that they will have a clear understanding of the business of fertilizer.

Water, Other Issues

While the policy implications resulting from West, TX, are huge, they are just additions to an already full plate in the legislative and regulatory arena. Policy related to nutrients and water quality remains a major area of activity. Our legal challenge to EPA’s implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load will be taking its next step as we join our agriculture allies in appealing a District Court ruling in favor of EPA. We believe that this case will set a precedent for how EPA moves forward with inter-state nutrient regulation. If the 3rd Circuit grants the appeal they could hear arguments and rule by summer 2014.

As in past years, transportation policy will remain a critical issue in 2014. On the rail side, we anticipate that due to several high-profile accidents in 2013, the Rail Safety Act will be on the congressional agenda. We will closely monitor activity to make sure that any new legislation does not have a negative impact on the transportation of anhydrous ammonia.

A modern and efficient waterway system is necessary for the timely delivery of close to 70 million tons of crop nutrients each year. As such, we will continue to actively engage as Congress takes what we hope will be the final steps in finalizing the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). Provisions in the bill addressing funding for waterway improvements on the nation’s river transportation system are of critical importance to the industry’s ability to serve our grower-customers in a timely and efficient manner.

Each year, the scope and complexity of policy issues impacting the fertilizer industry increases. As we witnessed after the West Fertilizer explosion, even separate arms of the Federal government are unaware of others’ actions, thus tremendously challenging regulated industries such as ours. Further, with each passing year, a diminishing number of people in Washington understand agriculture and its vital role. In this environment, the industry needs a strong and consistent voice. We aim to serve that function in 2014 and in years to come.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Legislation Stories

LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More
LegislationTFI Praises White House For Signing WRRDA Into Law
June 11, 2014
The bill streamlines U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, prioritizes authorized waterway improvements and provides needed adjustments to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. Read More
LegislationAg Policy: Plenty Of Fertilizer Issues Ahead
January 2, 2014
From West Fertilizer to the Chesapeake Bay, fertilizer producers and dealers are keeping an eye on several Beltway developments in 2014. Read More
LegislationLack Of Farm Bill Leaves Farmers Facing Uncertainty In 2014
December 13, 2013
With just a few legislative working days remaining in 2013, the likelihood of a new farm bill is waning, leaving farmers in limbo once again. Read More

Trending Articles

MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
September 2, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches Performance Agriculture Brand
September 2, 2014
Performance Agriculture complements Pinnacle’s existing brands, including Sanders, the company’s flagship farm input retail brand. Read More
Webinars5 Key Benefits Of Attending A Webinar
September 2, 2014
Webinars can provide ag retailers with a convenient option for gaining knowledge on the latest industry issues and solutions. Read More
Crop InputsBASF Is Betting On A Bright Agricultural Future
September 1, 2014
The crop protection products giant is gearing up for a busy time in agriculture by investing in both product production and development over the next couple of years. Read More
Eric SfiligojAn Erie Feeling For Ag
September 1, 2014
Plenty of water issues have been in the news lately, including the continuing drought in California. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires California-Based Retailer
August 29, 2014
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings will acquire Kerman Ag Resources, Inc., which will operate under Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementArcadia Co-op To Merge With Allied Cooperative
August 28, 2014
Allied Cooperative has announced that members of Arcadia Co-op voted in favor of a merger with Allied Cooperative, paving the way for the consolidation which will be effective on December 1, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesBioinsecticide VENERATE Now Registered In California
August 27, 2014
Marrone Bio Innovations' VENERATE is a new tool to help California growers control crop-damaging insect pests, fight the development of insect resistance and reduce pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Read More
CropLife 100Two Iowa-Based Ag Co-ops To Merge
August 27, 2014
The Board of Directors and management of United Western Coop, Missouri Valley, IA has completed a merger with Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, effective September 1, 2014. Read More
FertilizerKoch Expands AGROTAIN Nitrogen Stabilizer Portfolio
August 26, 2014
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC has added two new innovative nitrogen stabilizers to the AGROTAIN product family – AGROTAIN ADVANCED and AGROTAIN DRI-­MAXX. Read More
Seed/BiotechDuPont To Build Two Seed Treatment Centers
August 26, 2014
DuPont has announced construction on two state-of-the-art centers dedicated to developing and testing seed treatment formulations, applications and seed handling techniques in an important step toward bringing new solutions to growers. Read More
Seed/BiotechLoveland Products Acquires A Controlling Interest In Ag…
August 26, 2014
Loveland Products, a subsidiary of Agrium , has announced the company has acquired a controlling interest in Agricen, a Dallas-area agricultural biotechnology company delivering biochemical-based products for efficient and sustainable plant nutrition. Read More
StewardshipUp Close Look At The 2014 Environmental Respect Award W…
August 25, 2014
The 2014 Environmental Respect Award winners were honored recently at the 24th annual event in Wilmington, DE. Read More
Eric SfiligojAg Science Rejection Carries Consequences
August 25, 2014
As innuendo and fear dog the regulatory process, agriculture can’t get the new tools it needs to combat world hunger. Read More
LegislationFarmers Dismayed As New Farm Bill Dumps Direct Payments
August 25, 2014
The threatened end of cash subsidies to the nation’s row crop farmers dates back through at least the last two iterations of national agriculture policy legislation. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK CEO To Retire
August 22, 2014
GROWMARK chief executive officer Jeff Solberg has announced his retirement effective September 15, 2014. Read More