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

CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
LegislationICGA Praises President Trump’s Remarks on Waterways Infrastructure
June 12, 2017
Illinois Corn Growers Association President Justin Durdan, a farmer from Utica, issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s comments Read More
Corn soil
LegislationARA Member Testifies Before Senate Ag Committee
May 25, 2017
Agricultural retailers stand on the front-lines of the American economy. As trusted advisors to America’s farmers, ag retailers are uniquely Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Agriculture
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationTrump’s EPA Appointee Dismisses Half of Major Scientific Review Board at Agency
May 8, 2017
(Via NYTimes.com) EPA has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Redbanded-stinkbug-on-soybean-Photo-credit-Thomas-County-Ag
Crop InputsExperts: Mild Winter, Early Planting Will Increase Soybean Insect Threat
June 12, 2017
Higher than average temperatures this past winter affected much of the nation, especially the South and Midwest. The National Centers Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Agriculture
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
EquipmentSpray Application: A Nozzle Renaissance
May 2, 2017
If you had asked four-decade ag veteran Mark Bartel, President of Wilger Inc., just a few years ago what lay Read More
Latest News
Young Corn Plants
Eric SfiligojLaunching New Seed Traits: Wait on China . . . Or Else!
June 26, 2017
In life, no one likes the waiting game. In agriculture, however, playing the waiting game is very important – especially Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Speaks on Dicamba Issues in Arkansas
June 26, 2017
Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer, Robb Fraley, issued the following statement following the Arkansas State Plant Board’s proposal to ban dicamba, Read More
Corn Field
Seed/BiotechCorn Insect Bt Technologies Offer Cost-effective, Proac…
June 26, 2017
When farm economics are challenging, farmers look for ways to bolster profit margins, including reducing input costs. Some may think Read More
Crop InputsArkansas Plant Board Votes to Ban Dicamba — Now W…
June 23, 2017
The Arkansas State Plant Board has voted to pass a proposed emergency rule to ban the use of in-crop dicamba, Read More
Engenia soybeans
Crop InputsBASF: ‘Closely Monitoring’ Dicamba Situatio…
June 22, 2017
BASF, whose Engenia herbicide is the target of more than 200 drift complaints in Arkansas, emailed the following statement to Read More
ManagementConsolidation Update
June 22, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss progress on manufacturer consolidation, and another big move for Midwest cooperative Central Valley Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
Crop InputsThreat of Dicamba Ban Looms in Arkansas
June 22, 2017
The Arkansas State Plant Board has rejected a proposed ban on the use of dicamba herbicide, but a procedural error Read More
Potash Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium-PotashCorp to become Nutrien upon Merger Complet…
June 21, 2017
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. have announced today that once the anticipated merger transaction closes, the new Read More
Crop InputsMidwestern BioAg Hosts TerraNu Fertilizer Plant Opening…
June 20, 2017
Last Friday, Midwestern BioAg was joined by over 80 local farmers, media and staff to celebrate the grand opening of Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsAligned Ag Distributors Names New President
June 19, 2017
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC announced this morning the appointment of Mary Tolke to the position of President/CEO, effective July 1. Read More
ManagementPlotting Corn, AGCO/Asmark’s Applicator Training Center…
June 15, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about their recent visits to Columbus, OH, and Bloomington, IL, along with an Read More
Seed/BiotechDow AgroSciences Announces Launch of Enlist Corn for 20…
June 14, 2017
Enlist corn will be commercially available in the U.S. for the 2018 growing season. Dow AgroSciences announced the launch today Read More
ASMARK AGCO Applicator Training Center
EmployeesAsmark, AGCO Open Training Center for Beginning Applica…
June 13, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute have opened a new Applicator Training Center, created in a collaboration between the two Read More
Power to Do More Contest Winners
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Three Winners in Power to Do…
June 13, 2017
Thousands of votes have been cast and three farmers have been awarded the power to do more with a $10,000 Read More
Frogeye leaf spot
FungicidesStrobilurin-resistant Frogeye Leaf Spot Threat Looms wi…
June 13, 2017
Heavy spring rainfall throughout the South and Midwest delayed planting and created the perfect environment for diseases like frogeye leaf Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
LegislationICGA Praises President Trump’s Remarks on Waterwa…
June 12, 2017
Illinois Corn Growers Association President Justin Durdan, a farmer from Utica, issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s comments Read More
Wheat Growers
UncategorizedWheat Growers Names Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice Presiden…
June 12, 2017
Wheat Growers has hired Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice President of Agronomy. Linbo joins Wheat Growers after having served 10 Read More