2013 Ag Retail Outlook: Managing Regulatory Compliance

The best way I can describe what 2013 holds for the ag industry is by using the old adage — we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. The old saying means waiting for something bad to happen in which is expected. It comes from a famous music hall joke about a man who is woken by the drunk upstairs dropping his shoe. The man can’t get back to sleep because he is waiting for the second crash on the ceiling. I believe most people in the agricultural industry would agree the first shoe dropped shortly after the crash of the economy and the 2008 presidential election.

Politics is an activity that we’ve purposely chosen to avoid due to the nature of our work. With that said, our workload is directly affected by regulatory activity and we know through experience the second term of any administration, Republican or Democrat, sets the stage as the final chance to complete their agenda — usually at any cost because the outgoing president has nothing to lose.

It became apparent in the spring of 2012 that most of the regulatory activity was being put on hold pending the election. Immediately following election day a burst of activity began when 165 new regulations and notifications were posted to the regulations.gov Website November 9. A standard we’ve come to expect from every re-elected president, regardless of party affiliation. As 2013 unfolds, watch for a tidal wave of regulatory activity comparable only to that of the years following the September 11 tragedy in 2001. During this unfortunate period, a lot of new rules and every unsuccessful rule that had ever been shelved suddenly became viable again once the agency attached the word “security” to it.

In the past four years we have watched as long-standing industry interpretations have been reversed, increasing the numbers of federal agency employees who have felt empowered to inspect and enforce as they see fit, and all while states seek to offset their growing budget deficits by levying additional and even larger fines.

There has been an obvious lack of clarity from regulators at the national level during the course of the last four years. However, we believe that will change, and not necessarily for the better. With clarity will come the expectation by regulators that our industry dot their i’s and cross their t’s on the myriad of regulations. When it comes to audits and inspections, ignorance of the regulations won’t be a viable option anymore and the old fashioned good faith effort won’t count for as much as it has in the past. The trend over the last four years leads us to believe the agencies expect to see us “perform” with their performance-oriented standards.

The government may have been considered a little slow in the past, but they are rapidly figuring out how to use technology, such as DOT’s Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) to identify the motor carriers that “need to be audited.” DOT audits of the past were quite random unlike the audits conducted since 2010 where the auditor is equipped with a laptop full of data that helps steer him or her directly to the bad actors. Armed with more personnel, watch for the regulator’s use of technology to mushroom over the next four to six years.

What can be done while we wait for the other shoe to drop? An all-out effort is recommended to understand the meaning and purpose of the regulations that are required of your business — before the inspector comes knocking. Given the growing number of inspections and audits anticipated in the future, it will be essential that the personnel at the facility know what their regulatory requirements are and be able to interact effectively with the regulator, providing them with the necessary documentation.

One lifeline we have as an industry are our state and national agribusiness associations. These organizations advocate on behalf of our industry every day and have a direct effect on our future. There is no better time than now to review your compliance effort and work with these organizations to take whatever actions may be necessary to be properly prepared for what the future holds.

Whether viewed through an economic, regulatory or business lens, the situation our industry faces for the next four to six years is far from a level playing field. When the other shoe does drop, your perspective of whether the future is positive or negative may very well depend on just how well you are able to manage your risks — in addition to all the other aspects of managing a successful business.

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
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
Frogeye Leaf Spot on soybean
FungicidesFungicides Promising Yield Bumps In Tough Times
February 1, 2015
Some exciting newcomers should make selling fungicides easier. Read More
Seed/BiotechDow Details Enlist Trait Stacking Standards
January 30, 2015
Dow says it will allow the Enlist trait to be stacked with advanced glyphosate traits only, and will not allow stacking with the first generation of the Roundup Ready trait. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: IFCA’s Jean Payne on Illinois wat…
January 30, 2015
Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares insight from the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association conference including a chat with IFCA President Jean Read More
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More