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

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

InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More

Latest News

StewardshipTFI Recognizes Michigan, Maryland Farms For 4R Stewards…
October 31, 2014
As farming practices increasingly attract interest from the general public, two farmers are ensuring they meet public approval. Read More
Eric SfiligojBig Brother Is Already Watching
October 31, 2014
Opponents to UAVs seem to think they could be used to spy on other people. But spying is already taking place, through the Internet. Read More
StewardshipAsmark Institute’s New Training Center Focused On…
October 31, 2014
The newly dedicated Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture will be used as a national training and education center for professionals in the ag input industry. Read More
StewardshipCTIC Tour Dives Deep Into Everglades
October 31, 2014
The most recent Conservation In Action Tour (CTIC) hit South Florida recently to tour the Everglades Agricultural Area. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
CropLife 100ValueAct Buys Stake In Fertilizer Dealer Agrium
October 30, 2014
ValueAct has bought 8.2 million shares in Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, making them the second largest investor in the fertilizer dealer. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
StewardshipUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to Read More
Crop InputsValent Launches New Low VOC ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growt…
October 29, 2014
ProGibb LV Plus PGR is a high-potency, liquid gibberellic acid formulation designed to comply with California’s new air quality standards for high volatile organic compound agricultural products. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience Acquires Certain DuPont Crop Protecti…
October 29, 2014
Bayer CropScience and DuPont Crop Protection have signed an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Read More
ManagementWest Central Names New President
October 29, 2014
West Central’s board of directors have announced their unanimous decision to name Milan Kucerak President and CEO-elect following Jeff Stroburg’s retirement at the end of the fiscal year. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More
Crop InputsArysta Hires Former Agri-Chem, CPS Employee For Delta S…
October 23, 2014
New Territory Sales Manager Mark Peel’s primary role will focus on working with growers regarding fungicides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Appointments In Plant Food Division
October 22, 2014
GROWMARK, Inc. has announced the three key staff changes in its Plant Food Division. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Appoints New VP Of Finance And Risk Management
October 22, 2014
Wade Mittelstadt has been named GROWMARK Vice President, Financial and Risk Mangement, effective December 1, 2014. Read More
FungicidesEPA Approves BASF In-Furrow Corn Fungicide
October 22, 2014
Field trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. Read More