ARA Legislative Review: Looking Ahead To 2012

We anticipate an exciting year in Washington, DC, and what happens will have real implications for the agricultural industry. The 2012 Presidential race will be decided in November, along with 33 Senate seats and the House of Representatives. House incumbents will be campaigning for their seats in a time of extreme disapproval of Congress and after recent redistricting. The administration and Congress are attempting to separate themselves from the nation’s economic problems and political gridlock. Furthermore, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) anticipates legislative and regulatory action on a number of major issue areas important to retailers and distributors of crop inputs — especially in the environmental, chemical security and transportation areas.

Environment

Water quality issues have risen to a high level of importance to the agricultural industry. Of top concern is the implementation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) Pesticide General Permit (PGP) for aquatic pesticide applications. The agriculture industry is enthusiastically pushing forward with legislation (H.R. 872) that would eliminate the need for CWA NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits for FIFRA-compliant  (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act) pesticide applications, while states and the EPA are attempting to get their permitting programs started. Although permits vary by state, operators under EPA’s permit were automatically covered by the PGP until January 12, 2011. Their Notice of Intent paperwork was due to EPA 10 days prior to that date.

EPA is also moving forward with regulating nutrients in water. In the Chesapeake Bay, EPA has created a TMDL, or pollution diet, to regulate phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment. ARA is skeptical of the modeling techniques used to determine the agriculture sector’s allocation loads in the bay and is also frustrated by EPA’s use of authority over the states.  The allocations fail to account for the conservation practices already adopted in the area. This program threatens to take much cropland out of production in the six Chesapeake Bay Region states.

Similarly, EPA has finalized CWA Numeric Nutrient Criteria (NNC) for lakes and streams in Florida and plans to finalize NNC for its estuarine and coastal waters later this year. This is another case where EPA has asserted jurisdiction over a state’s water quality programs.  ARA is involved in litigation over this issue (likely to be resolved in 2012). ARA is arguing that the finalized criteria are not scientifically defensible and that EPA did not have the authority to assert itself over the state’s NNC determinations. This case will be important as many other states and regions are facing similar NNC pressures from EPA. ARA also continues to work on the legislative front to resolve this issue.

Further complicating these issues, EPA is planning to issue regulations that would greatly expand the reach of the CWA, including all ephemeral streams. This would have far-reaching implications to the CWA programs, including the pesticide permits and nutrient water quality issues, so ARA is working with a large group of allied industries to combat this rulemaking.

Chemical Security

The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program is operating under temporary Congressional authorization and needs to gain a long-term authorization. ARA supports a permanent authorization of the CFATS program, but opposes efforts to include an inherently safer technology (IST) mandate, third party enforcement provisions and weakening of federal preemption in the legislation. In 2012, ARA is optimistic Congress will pass a straight reauthorization of the CFATS program for an additional three to five years. 

Last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed new ammonium nitrate registration regulations as part of the CFATS program. ARA was supportive of an AN program generally, but has several concerns with certain aspects of the proposal. For instance, how it overlays with other existing programs, personal surety and who is covered in the chain of custody. ARA will continue to work with DHS in 2012 to ensure that the final AN registration program is workable in the agricultural retail industry.

Transportation

The Highway Bill has been operating on short-term extension, and we are hopeful that a more long-term and strategic bill will be passed this year. 

One of ARA’s primary goals in the next Highway Bill is to clarify that the agriculture hours of service (HOS) exemption includes movements from the distribution point to the retail facility. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) limited the agriculture HOS exemption from being applicable to all farm inputs from distribution to the farm to only anhydrous ammonia transportation.  The HOS exemption allows agricultural truckers to avoid time limitations within a 100 air mile radius during planting and harvest seasons, as defined by each state. ARA is working to ensure that the exemption’s statutory language is clarified so that movement of all farm inputs will fall under the exemption. ARA is also advocating for extending the limitation on distance from 100 to 150 air miles.

Congress will also consider reauthorizing the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA). ARA is asking Congress and DOT to reform the Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP) program because the implementation of the current system makes it very difficult for carriers to qualify and stay qualified for the HMSP. Specifically, ARA is asking that the eligibility requirements do not float between permitting cycles, rural carriers are not statistically biased against due to fewer inspections and categories of measure are aggregated so that only the bottom 30% are disqualified.

Within the HMTA reauthorization and Homeland Security Committees, ARA plans to continue to advocate for streamlined credentialing, the elimination of duplicative background checks and decreased overlap in federal regulation requirements between agencies. Last year, the House introduced a piece of legislation called the “MODERN Security Credentials Act” that would resolve many of these credentialing issues. ARA is working in both the House and Senate to get this legislation passed in 2012.

DOT has been rolling out the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiatives to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicles. ARA expects DOT to propose CSA Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) levels in early 2012. SFDs will determine intervention levels for motor carriers, so ARA plans to work with DOT on the final SFD’s to ensure that they are practical for agricultural retailers.

Farm Bill

Due to the failure of the Deficit Reduction super committee, ARA anticipates a normal Farm Bill legislative process in 2012. ARA has primary concern in several areas of the Farm Bill.

In the 2008 Farm Bill, ARA led the effort to secure the Agricultural Chemical Security Tax Credit — 30% tax credit of aggregate amount spent on security measures up to $100,000 per facility, limited to $2 million a year per company. The tax credit will expire with the current Farm Bill, so ARA will work to extend the tax credit beyond 2012, but anticipates a tough fight due to budgetary concerns.

ARA also supports risk management tools for our farmer customers, like crop insurance. Conservation resources should be used wisely. CRP enrollment should be limited to highly erodible land and CEAP data on conservation practices should be maintained. The biotech approval process should be modified so that new technologies can come into the market.

ARA looks forward to facing the challenges and opportunities in 2012.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Legislation Stories

FertilizerTFI Weighs In On Fertilizer Rail Transport Bill
May 14, 2015
With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies Read More
LegislationGov. Kasich Signs Ohio Bill For Lake Erie Water Quality
April 2, 2015
Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill aimed at protecting Lake Erie and Ohio’s water quality, reports editorial staff at Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Crop Protection Bulk Storage
LegislationARA: Chemical Security, Biotech Labeling Among Key Issues In 2015
February 12, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association is hopeful Beltway gridlock will lessen in 2015, allowing some key agricultural initiatives to gain legislative ground. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsBayer CropScience: A Decade Of Innovation
September 3, 2015
BLAMS! It’s not a sound effect from the pages of a Superhero comic book. Instead this nifty acronym is used Read More
ManagementReviewing MAGIE 2015
September 2, 2015
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj talks what he saw at the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show. Read More
Melissa Olds Dow AgroSciences
Crop InputsDow AgroSciences: Highlighting The Past, Present & …
September 2, 2015
In general, media events held by large agricultural suppliers tend to focus primarily on what plans the company has in Read More
Mobile tablet
OpinionTaking Data Head On
September 2, 2015
As you read this column, I’m hoping that if you picked up the phone and gave me a call, you’d Read More
Young soybean field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Announces New Business Unit Head For…
September 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America announces the addition of Rico Christensen, Business Unit Head, North America. Christensen will have responsibility for Read More
Wilbur Ellis Pink Soybean Seed Treatment
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Goes Pink With Soybean Seed Treatments For…
September 1, 2015
This past year, proceeds of pink-dyed soybeans treated and sold to Wilbur-Ellis seed customers in Chester, SD, went to two Read More
SprayersNORAC Active Wing Roll Slated For More Sprayers
September 1, 2015
NORAC Systems, a member of the Topcon Positioning Group, announces the release of Active Wing Roll for RoGator, Apache, New Read More
Syngenta Sign
FungicidesSyngenta’s Newest Fungicide Receives EPA Approval
September 1, 2015
Syngenta announced today that its newest succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicide – Solatenol – has received registration from EPA and Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
Crop InputsDelaying The Fertilizer Decision
September 1, 2015
Comments gathered from several retailers recently evidenced a classic good-news-bad-news scenario. Good news is prices and supplies of nitrogen, phosphate, Read More
StewardshipBee Buffer Strip Initiative Seeks 100 Ohio Farmers
August 31, 2015
The U.S. Bee Buffer Project, an initiative of the Pollinator Partnership (P2), Burt’s Bees and The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Read More
2015 ShowStopper Award, MAGIE
EquipmentA ShowStopper From Case IH: The Patriot 2250
August 31, 2015
For nine years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with not only Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, FMC Expand Roundup Ready PLUS Platform
August 31, 2015
FMC Corp. and Monsanto Co. announced today an expanded agreement to continue their participation in the Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Read More
Deere Nutrient Applicator
Eric SfiligojThe Good & Bad News From MAGIE
August 31, 2015
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries (MAGIE) trade show in Bloomington, IL. Read More
CPS Morenci receiving its 4R certification
StewardshipCPS Morenci Becomes First Michigan Facility Certified I…
August 31, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Crop Production Services, Inc.’s facility located in Morenci, MI, has been Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Soucy Track Distribution Alliance
August 28, 2015
John Deere announces an alliance with Soucy Track to sell and distribute products through the John Deere dealer channel. “This Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsWhat’s Next For Monsanto, Syngenta?
August 28, 2015
After dropping its $47 billion bid to take over Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta, Monsanto may be turning its focus to Read More
Golden Harvest Corn stalks
Crop InputsMonsanto: Syngenta Not The Only Horse In Crop Protectio…
August 28, 2015
Monsanto Co, having ditched an audacious $46 billion (£30 billion) offer for Syngenta AG, may downshift to a humbler strategy Read More