ARA Blog

AgProfessional and the Agricultural Retailers Association have initiated the Precision Impact Awards to recognize local retailer operations or local management individuals for excellence in incorporating precision ag into their retail operations and their farmer customers' operations. This award provides an outlet to show the public that ag retailers using precision ag technology are promoting good stewardship and are responsible environmentalists.

Submit a nomination here!

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Nominations are now open for AGCO's 2014 Operator of the Year program, which recognizes the invaluable role of these professionals in supporting the agricultural industry. The finalists and winner will be recognized at the ARA Annual Conference & Expo, December 2-4, in New Orleans. Read full story... 

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Application technology is rapidly changing how crop protection products are applied. The Asmark Institute's unique mobile Professional Applicator Training Course focuses on maximizing performance while minimizing spray drift. This year's course centers on liquid systems with a focus on post-foliar applications.

Credits for both CCA and the Department of Agriculture, or the governing body responsible, will be requested in the states where training occurs in accordance with state requirements. Several dates and locations are available.

The one-day course, offered at 36 locations nationwide, is led by Robert E. Wolf, Ph.D.

https://www.asmark.org/TrainingCourses/PATCourse.cgi

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Each hour-long session is designed to assist critical infrastructure owners and operators, physical security and information security professionals, Chief Information Officers, risk managers, business continuity planners, information technology directors, and local homeland security and emergency management staff in their efforts to enhance the preparation, security, and resilience of communities and their critical infrastructure assets.

Preparedness: Topics are designed to assist private industry and governmental partners and any other critical infrastructure practitioners in enhancing their preparation and resilience efforts:

  • Risk Management - Learn from a panel of Minnesota-based Critical Infrastructure practitioners that includes Grant Hosmer, Critical Infrastructure Coordinator for the City of Minneapolis, Glenn Sanders, DHS Protective Security Advisor for Minnesota, and the Downtown Security Executive Group, who will discuss infrastructure resilience planning and threat assessment associated with large-scale public events such as the 2014 Major League Baseball All Star Game by leveraging public/private partnerships and strategically utilizing risk management tools and resources.
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AgGateway recently today that President and CEO Rod Conner is resigning effective January 1, 2015, in order to lead the newly formed AgGateway Global Network; and that current Executive Vice President and COO Wendy Smith will move into the role of AgGateway President and CEO beginning in 2015.

Conner has served as president since 2009 and has been in AgGateway leadership for the past decade, through a period marked by significant year-to-year growth in both the association's membership and productivity. Membership has grown in that time from fewer than a dozen companies to more than 200, and from eBusiness projects in two industry segments to current work under eight active Councils - for crop nutrition, crop protection, seed, feed, grain, precision agriculture and ag retail, as well as for the allied providers that support the industry.

Smith has worked closely with Conner through most of this growth. She has served in her current role since 2010, and before that time was an active volunteer in the organization while working as Regional Commercial Manager at BASF. Smith has over 30 years of work experience in the agricultural industry in a diverse set of roles, from research scientist and technical service training manager to new business development manager. She holds a B.S. in Plant and Soils Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a PhD in Botany from the University of California, Riverside.

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CropLife America recently hosted the third meeting of interested ally associations with member interests related to advancing precision agriculture. With 14 such trade groups and related non-profits attending, including Agricultural Retailers Association, this was the most robust turnout yet.

Plans are now being finalized for an official roll-out of the new coalition in early September, which will kick-off with a Capitol Hill Precision Ag Forum on September 18.

Some of the issues identified for the coalition include: (1) increase awareness of the productivity improvements and sustainability enhancements that precision provides, especially focusing on awareness by government officials at all levels; (2) seek greater collaboration across various sectors of agriculture, addressing issues like "big data" privacy and security, rural broadband capacity, and usability of precision data; and (3) help identify and address barriers to precision adoption.

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A common-sense, bipartisan bill to simplify Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance for seasonal employers was introduced in the House on Monday.

The “Simplifying Technical Aspects Regarding Seasonality (STARS) Act of 2014” would define “seasonal employee” as a worker employed on a seasonal basis for  months or less during a calendar year, consistent with current Department of Treasury regulations. The STARS Act would also simplify the methods seasonal employers would use to determine business size and whether they are required to comply with the ACA Employer Mandate.

Currently, there are different definitions of seasonal and different lengths of time that would constitute the difference between a small or large employer in ACA under current law. These discrepancies have led to uncertainty for seasonal employers attempting to remain compliant, and has opened up many businesses to unforeseen tax liabilities.

The Agricultural Retailers Association has been lobbying with dedicated coalition partners and is pleased to see a bill introduced to alleviate these complexities.

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The Agricultural Retailers Association applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 935, "The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act," which received a bipartisan majority vote of 267-161 on the house floor today. Read the roll call vote.

The legislation amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters. If also passed by the Senate, producers would no longer be required to obtain additional permits to spray pesticides over water provided the chemical has already been approved for sale under current pesticide law (PL 94-140). 

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AgGateway is introducing a comprehensive agricultural glossary that can be freely accessed and used by the industry to facilitate accurate communications. 

The glossary is a one-stop location in the form of an online wiki for agriculture terms, definitions, acronyms, key words and synonyms. The glossary pulls from a number of established industry sources and includes government definitions for key terms, from "field" and "production" to "irrigation" and "pump." 

There are currently more than 3,000 terms in the glossary. 

The glossary is now available at http://agglossary.org. A major impetus for creating the new glossary is the need for defined terms when establishing eBusiness connections between companies, which is AgGateway's mission. 

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CF Industries recently announced a new partnership with Chevrolet to benefit the National FFA Organization (FFA). CF Industries is donating $600,000 to FFA to support excellence in farmer education and fertilizer best management practices. 

"Our future farmers must rise to the challenge of growing enough food to feed a global population projected to reach nine billion by 2050," said CF Industries President and CEO Tony Will. "The efficient use of fertilizer is essential to meet this challenge. Teaching tomorrow's farmers the best information about fertilizer is truly in everyone's interest."

The pilot program will be funded through the sale of voluntary carbon reduction credits earned from fertilizer manufacturing. CF Industries operates facilities that installed nitrous oxide abatement technology in 2008, earning credits for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) recently introduced DISCLOSE 2014 with numerous cosponsors, including Rules Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

The legislation, like its predecessors in the 111th and 112th Congresses, is designed to chill the political speech of corporations, business interests, and others, while giving labor unions special protections.

The Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to have a hearing on the legislation tomorrow, and a mark-up of the legislation could occur before or, shortly after the August recess.

ARA has signed onto a multi-industry letter voicing strong opposition to the bill to Chairman Schumer, Ranking Member Roberts and members of the Rules Committee.

"The legislation is purported to be even-handed in its treatment of labor unions, corporations and business associations, but the reality is that it is designed to burden business groups significantly while effectively exempting labor unions," the coalition states in its letter. "The legislation's manifest purpose is to impose exceptional burdens on the speech of corporations and business interests based on their identity as corporations and their presumed hostility to the political objectives of the legislation's supporters."

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) assistance for losses to bush or tree fruit crops due to frost or freeze during the 2012 crop year.

The program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides supplemental NAP payment to eligible producers.
NAP enrollment began July 22. Applications must be submitted to FSA county offices by Sept. 22, 2014.

Interested producers can view the 2012 NAP Coverage for Frost, Freeze or Weather Related Fruit Losses Fact Sheet at http://go.usa.gov/5kSQ, or visit a local FSA office. To find out if land is located in an eligible frost/freeze county, visit http://go.usa.gov/53rz. Read more...

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Do you know an employee or customer who would make a great spokesperson for American agriculture?

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) is looking for the new Faces of Farming & Ranching. To help put a real face on agriculture, USFRA will select standout farmers and ranchers who are proud of what they do, eager to share their stories of continuous improvement and who are actively involved in sharing those stories in public and on social media.

To apply, visit www.FoodDialogues.com/Faces to complete an application entry form, and to submit a video no longer than three minutes that shows your operation and your role on the farm/ranch. Entries will be accepted beginning on Thursday, July 10 until Sunday, August 10, 2014 at midnight CT.

ARA would welcome the opportunity to endorse a candidate and be willing to assist in the application process. 

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The 2014 Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) Conference & Expo will be held December 2-4 in New Orleans at the Sheraton New Orleans - French Quarter. The premier conference for leaders of the agricultural retail industry offers exhibitors direct access to customers to network and showcase your products.

Exhibit space sold out early in 2013 and ARA is again anticipating a sold out show this year so reserve your space today! The 2014 conference devotes more than seven hours to the trade show, providing ample one-on-one networking opportunities with company owners and managers -- leaders in the agricultural retail industry and decision-makers within their organizations. This annual gathering is the place to build personal relationships with the industry's trailblazers.

Last year's trade show featured 100 exhibits and more than 650 attendees. Book your space early with Burmeister & Associates, Inc., to avoid missing out on this exclusive opportunity!  Submit your contract now

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Last week ARA hosted "What to Expect from a CFATS Authorization Inspection," a webinar developed in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security. The agency continues to make progress on the implementation of the Chemical Facilities Anti-terrorism Standards (CFATS) Program. ARA members what steps to take towards CFATS compliance, and exploration different approaches in their Site Security Plans in addition to preparing for a CFATS Inspections.

DHS officials leading the call suggested regulated facilities should re-evaluate their SSPs, commitments for planned measures and expected outcomes of an inspection. The webinar provided insight into the latest developments in and lessons learned from CFATS authorization and compliance inspections, and to provided members with a basis for determining what changes you may need to make to your SSP.

What to Expect from a CFATS Authorization Inspection
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The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry held a hearing on June 19 to review the Interpretative Rule Applicability of Clean Water Act (CWA) Agricultural Exemptions. 

"There is growing concern the newly proposed rule released by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps poses a grave threat to the economic vitality and ecological health of our farming communities," said Subcommittee Chairman Glenn 'GT' Thompson

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Last week President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum creating a Pollinator Health Task Force to be co-chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The mission and goals of the task force include developing a research and education plans and building public-private partnerships to improve and increase healthy pollinator habitat. ARA supports the development of a comprehensive strategy promoting bee health and ensuring sustainability agricultural production in the United States.

The memorandum identifies a combination of stressors impacting bee losses, including poor bee nutrition, loss of forage lands, parasites, pathogens, lack of genetic diversity, and exposure to pesticides. ARA looks forward to working with Task Force members as this important initiative moves forward.

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Chemical Safety Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso, who spoke at the ARA February Board Meeting, was questioned about CSB's whistleblower provisions in front of Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform committee June 19. After the hearing a reporter asked whether he'd consider leaving his post. Moure-Eraso said, "My brain is fried. I don't want to have to think or talk about this anymore."

The hearing follows an 84-page report from the committee detailing a toxic environment and mismanagement at the agency. According to the report, "Chairman Moure-Eraso and (Managing Director Daniel) Horowitz created a toxic work environment that resulted in the departure of at least nine experienced employees from the CSB. Because experienced employees left CSB, investigations dragged on for years."

Read the full report here

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Vice President of Public Policy and Counsel Richard Gupton traveled to Orange Beach, Ala., to participate in the Alabama Crop Management Association's Summer Meeting June 19.

Gupton provided an update on Responsible Ag, as well as an overview of the recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Executive Order Working Group reports on improving chemical facility safety and security. ARA would like to thank ACMA and their members for inviting ARA to participate in this important industry meeting.

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ARA Director of Public Policy, Jeff Sands, attended the Field to Market (FTM) plenary last week in Fayetteville, Ark. FTM is a member-driven group that brings many from the food/retail, agribusiness, conservation-focused NGO's, and grower sectors together to promote outcome based sustainability in agriculture.

This event provided an opportunity to gather information on supply chains, perceptions surrounding "big data", and reports from grower groups on their efforts. ARA will likely continue to work with FTM in the future to ensure collaboration with our upstream and downstream partners and provide exposure to perspectives from outside ag retail.

For more on Field to Market, please visit www.fieldtomarket.org

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