ARA Blog

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

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Ag retailers are key influencers of many on-farm decisions. On July 2, at 2 p.m. EDT, ag retailers are invited to participate in a free webinar to hear strategies to recognize and resolve profit-robbing conditions on customers' farms.

The focus will be on helping to resolve conditions that also contribute to phosphorus losses to Lake Erie Basin waters. Ag retailers and growers must act to improve water quality, prevent harmful algal blooms and avoid additional regulations that could limit grower productivity.

The webinar, hosted by the IPM Institute of North America as part of the Partnership for Ag Resource Management (PARM) project, will address sensitive issues that retailers may be hesitant to discuss with growers. Participants will learn about cutting edge tools and the latest science to meet profit and resource management goals.

This webinar has been approved for 1 Professional Development CCA Continuing Education Unit.

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Mathy Stanislaus, who heads the agency's national Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, will participate in a community meeting dealing with chemical security, an issue of particular concern in Louisville, with its heavy industry and rail traffic.

"Community Forum on Preventing Chemical Disasters in Louisville," will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at the Yearlings Club, 4309 W. Broadway.

Stanislaus intends to discuss a presidential order on chemical facility safety and security, which President Barack Obama signed last year after a deadly blast at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. Stanislaus also is scheduled to discuss an earlier presidential order on environmental justice and take some questions from the community.

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The Agricultural Retailers Association and more than 45 other trade associations sent a letter to House leaders urging support for targeted truck weight provisions included in the 2015 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act.

"The ability of states to secure accommodations within federal truck size and weight laws helps to make roads safe by keeping heavier vehicles off state and local roads and allowing them to drive on Interstate Highways," the letter states.

The language in Section 125 pertains to the states of Wisconsin, Mississippi, and Idaho.These provisions are tailored to the unique economic and safety needs of each state, only permitting the use of trucks that are already being driven in those states today.

The letter continues: "If our manufacturing, distribution, agriculture, construction, and forestry industries are to prosper in today's global economy, it is essential that we be allowed to compete on a level playing field.Section 125 allows specific states to pursue limited, targeted provisions designed to allow trucks that are already in use in those states to remain on Interstates, rather than having to navigate intersections, pedestrians, railroad tracks, and school zones on local or county roads."

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The Agricultural Retailers Association joins more than 70 other trade associations from a broad cross-section of industries urging the Obama administration to repeal a mandate that all cargo entering the U.S. be scanned for explosives and other toxic substances.

The 2006 statutory requirement "has always been, and remains impractical and does not actually improve security," the groups said in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. "If implemented, this provision would have a significantly negative impact on global commerce and cause significant conflict with the governments of our foreign trading partners, many of which have stated their opposition to the requirement previously."

The letter follows one from Johnson to Congress notifying lawmakers that he was delaying the implementation deadline for another two years.

Currently, the department's Customs and Border Protection agency uses a risk-based system to screen U.S.-bound containers and inspect those deemed a high risk. In their letter to Johnson, the trade groups said the current approach was working and urged the law's repeal.

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As the possibility for achieving comprehensive tax reform has dwindled, Congress has been working on legislation to extend previously expired or newly expiring provisions in the tax code.

Among these provisions is the America's Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014. H.R. 4457 would restore the small business expensing level to $500,000, including limited improvements to real property and permanently index the amount for inflation. Given the expensing level reverted to $25,000 for 2014, ARA felt that it was imperative to support legislation that gives our members and their customers a tool to help grow their businesses and create jobs.

The House of Representatives is set to consider H.R 4457 this week. To read the letter of support, click here. For more information on extenders or ARA's efforts on tax policy, please contact ARA Director of Public Policy, Jeff Sands at

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The National Protection & Programs Directorate's Office of Infrastructure Protection (NPPD/IP) and the Chemical Sector Coordinating Council are co-sponsoring the 2014 Chemical Sector Security Summit in Baltimore, Md., July 23-24, with Pre-Summit activities on July 22.

The eighth annual Summit will provide a forum for representatives from the chemical community to obtain a better understanding of chemical security regulations, foster public/private dialogue across key topic areas, share best practices, discuss cyber trends and tools, exchange information and network with other security professionals, and gain insight into the roles of industry and Federal, State, and local agencies and departments involved in chemical security.

To register, go to: For more information, go to

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Syngenta is holding a contest for creative ideas that will support one or more of the six measurable commitments of The Good Growth Plan, a sustainability initiative designed to address the global food security challenge.

The Good Growth Plan Grant Contest will award one Grand Prize of $20,000 to help the winner implement the idea. Also, three runners-up will receive $10,000 each for the same purpose. Deadline for submissions is July 14, 2014.

The Good Growth Plan addresses the overall food security challenge with six measurable objectives to boost resource efficiency, rejuvenate ecosystems and strengthen rural communities.

To submit an idea for the contest, please see For inspiration on grant ideas, watch our animated video

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The American Society of Agronomy is hosting the first of three webinars, In-Season Pest Issues: Insects, Weeds and Diseases, June 18 at 1 p.m. (CDT)

Specific to 2014, this webinar will take a look at some of the Integrated Pest Management issues you will face in the field. Whether you are fighting insects, weeds, and/or diseases, there will always be something you can do to improve the health, and eventual yield, of the crops you manage. Our panel of experts will help you identify unique opportunities for improvement and develop a plan of action to combat these issues.

Panelists include Erin Hodgson, an Associate Professor, Department of Entomology at Iowa State University; Tamra Jackson-Ziems, Extension Specialist and Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and Amitkumar Jhala, Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Management Specialist at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

CEUs are available for this webinar. Check out

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OsterHenneyGibbsThe Ohio AgriBusiness Association recently helped host a fundraiser in support of Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), who represents the 7th Congressional District. Gibbs is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. He is the sponsor of a bill to fix the NPDES pesticide permit. The event was conducted in Ashland at the home of National Grain and Feed Association members Al and Vicki Holdren.

Pictured: John Oster, Morral Companies; Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio); and Chris Henney, Executive Director of the Ohio Agribusiness Association. 

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KailaTanksley_editKaila Tanksley, a recent graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, recently joined the ARA staff as an intern for the summer. Ms. Tanksley received her bachelor's degree in Agricultural Economics in May and will pursue a master's degree in Agriculture and Applied Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the fall. 

During her undergraduate career, she conducted research on organic agriculture, served as secretary in the student organization Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), mentored four freshman students, as well as studied abroad in Thessaloniki, Greece.

"These experiences have enhanced my passion for agriculture and my communication skills, as well as strengthened my ability to work cohesively with individuals of diverse backgrounds," Tanksley said.

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State National Guard commands and nonprofit organizations they work with can help you more successfully identify, interview and hire veterans and National Guard members.

You can watch a free 18-minute webinar excerpt featuring Brigadier General Kenneth Beard, North Carolina National Guard (NCNG), during which he describes the comprehensive effort made by his team to help employers match candidates with jobs. No registration is required. Here is the link: Download a one-page PDF flyer to share:

The webinar was developed by the nonprofit American Jobs for America’s Heroes (AJAH) campaign to help business owners and HR managers learn how to make military recruiting easier and more successful.

“The more you know about what the Guard is doing to help soldiers find jobs,” said Steve Nowlan, campaign director, “the more effectively you can partner with the military branches to achieve your hiring goals.”

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Several members of the Agricultural Retailer Association staff attended the CropLife America National Policy Conference May 22 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

CLA used this year’s NPC, titled “The Devolution of AgriCULTURE,” to instigate a thoughtful and balanced discussion among farmers and ranchers, media and industry representatives on the future of agriculture and its ability to adapt to meet consumer, environmental and regulatory demands. Nearly 300 individuals attended this year's NPC, which featured leading figures from agriculture, media, industry and sustainability, each bringing unique perspectives and inspiring an impartial yet passionate debate on key industry issues. 

“The National Policy Conference continues to serve as a forum where individuals from many different backgrounds can openly express their views related to agricultural policy and the agricultural industry at-large,” noted Jay Vroom, CLA’s president and CEO. “With this year’s theme, we were excited to explore the changing agricultural landscape through the viewpoints of farmers, members of the media, business leaders and sustainability advocates. The issues discussed during the National Policy Conference are relevant not only to policymakers and influencers in Washington, but to everyone impacted by the ongoing evolution of the agriculture industry.”

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On May 22, 2014, the Senate Appropriations Committee by voice vote adopted an amendment offered by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to the Fiscal Year 2015 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that would require genetically engineered (GE) salmon to be labeled.

The Senate overwhelmingly voted down a similar amendment regarding GE food labeling when the farm bill was under consideration last summer. 

ARA joined Farm Bureau, BIO, and others in opposition to the Murkowski GE Salmon labeling amendment and similar amendments that would directly or indirectly, impede agriculture's access to technology or restrict or malign the commercial development of modern plant or animal agricultural applications, including those utilizing biotechnology.

In a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the coalition asked "that Congress help advance the American tradition of innovation by opposing any amendment to restrict agricultural technology development, to hinder farmers' access to modern agricultural tools, or to malign advancements in plant and animal agricultural applications that are helping to meet current and future food production challenges."

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