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

LegislationVilsack Christens WinField Crop Adventure, Talks Monsanto-Bayer, GMO-Labeling and TPP
June 17, 2016
The WinField Crop Adventure grand opening ceremonies at Fair Oaks Farms (near Winemac, IN) welcomed USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Read More
CPP, glyphosate, dicamba, atrazine,
Crop InputsReport: Congress Pressing EPA On Glyphosate Review Handling
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter P.J. Huffstutter: U.S. lawmakers have asked EPA to explain why it published – and then withdrew – Read More
Anhydrous Ammonia tanks
LegislationARA: OSHA Announces PSM Formal Rulemaking Intentions
May 11, 2016
In separate communications earlier this week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced plans to conduct formal rulemaking to Read More
Crop InputsBayer: 5 Reasons We Disagree With Maryland Neonic Ban
April 12, 2016
We’re disappointed that the Maryland legislature chose not to stand up for sound science and the rights of Maryland’s homeowners Read More
Trending Articles
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
Aerial Drone
Precision AgA Deeper Dive Into The Future Of Precision Ag
May 9, 2016
For about two decades now, through the good and the bad times, the ups and the downs inherent in agriculture, Read More
Latest News
Allen Summers Asmark Institute PSM Training
EmployeesAsmark Institute Sponsors 25 ResponsibleAg Auditor Trai…
June 21, 2016
The Asmark Institute has announced plans to provide 25 scholarships through their affiliated State fertilizer and agrichemical associations to help encourage Read More
Kennebec Elevator
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Celebrates Kennebec Elevator Grand Openin…
June 21, 2016
Over 250 patrons and guests were on hand to celebrate Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Elevator grand opening. South Dakota Secretary of Read More
Land O Lakes
Industry NewsLand O’Lakes To Acquire Ceres
June 20, 2016
Land O’ Lakes, Inc. and Ceres, Inc. have announced that they have signed a definitive merger agreement under which Land O’Lakes Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To …
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
LegislationVilsack Christens WinField Crop Adventure, Talks Monsan…
June 17, 2016
The WinField Crop Adventure grand opening ceremonies at Fair Oaks Farms (near Winemac, IN) welcomed USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Read More
Crop InputsFields of the Future: WinField Doubles Down with Agri-E…
June 16, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc., joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, today will host Fields of the Future, a live broadcast about Read More
Bayer sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Turns Back Bayer Again
June 14, 2016
Bayer AG’s bid to buy Monsanto Co. for more than $60 billion has hit an impasse that could pose a Read More
Young Corn Field
Crop NutritionNext Generation Of Nitrogen Efficiency Technology Conve…
June 13, 2016
Commodity price projections indicate farmers will continue to face tight margins again this year. Delivering higher yields and more bushels Read More
Industry NewsLa Crosse Seed Acquires Cover Crop Solutions Brand
June 10, 2016
La Crosse Seed announces that it is the new and exclusive owner of the entire family of brands of Cover Read More
ManagementTravel Plans and EU Rejection of Glyphosate, Biotech Cr…
June 9, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trips and the latest in the European Union’s moves against glyphosate Read More
Aspire with Boron
Crop InputsStudy: Aspire with Boron Ups Alfalfa Yields
June 8, 2016
Alfalfa growers are successfully improving yields through the cutting season by applying an important micronutrient. In a recent study, The Read More
Industry NewsAGCO Announces Tragic Death of Longtime Employee
June 8, 2016
It is with deepest regret that we announce the passing of our dear friend, colleague and customer advocate-in-chief Kevin W. Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Industry NewsBASF Inks Northern Seed for Clearfield Wheat R&D Li…
June 6, 2016
BASF has licensed Northern Seed LLC to perform research and development of BASF’s proprietary and patented Clearfield technology in wheat. Read More
ManagementBayer/Monsanto, EU/Glyphosate, Corn/Soybeans
June 2, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the latest regarding industry mergers, the glyphosate debate in Europe, and an update Read More
Growers looking at soybeans
Industry NewsKoch Licenses 2 Marrone Products For North American Dis…
June 2, 2016
Koch Agronomic Services (Koch), with support from its affiliate, Koch Biological Solutions, has secured exclusive rights to sell REGALIA Rx Read More
Gypsum
Industry NewsBeneficial Reuse Management Launches GYPSOIL BLENDABLE
June 2, 2016
Beneficial Reuse Management (BRM) has introduced GYPSOIL BLENDABLE, a new high-quality pelleted gypsum fertilizer that supplies 17% sulfate sulfur and Read More
StewardshipAgrible Joins Field To Market To Pursue Sustainable Sou…
June 1, 2016
Agrible, Inc. has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture as an associate member. As a leading multi-stakeholder Read More