ARA Blog

I just returned from Germany and Poland and was startled to discover the regulatory control the European Union exercises over its farmers and agriculture.

This should not be a surprise, however, when a farmer has the EU paying one-half the cost of his tractor and/or farm equipment.

In eastern Germany, we were also regaled with stories about the old communist government ordering planting on days it was raining.

Unfortunately we are headed in the same direction here.

The EPA has just released a new definition of "Waters of the United States." Critics are calling this the biggest government land grab ever. Senator David Vitter, R-La., and a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said, "The…(proposed) rule may be one of the most significant private property grabs in U. S. history."

Senator Murkowski, R-Alaska, claimed the EPA proposal "could result in serious collateral damage to our economy." She also said, "If EPA is not careful, this rule could effectively give the federal government control of nearly all of our state – and prove to be a showstopper for both traditional access and new development."

Proposal would free government to regulate "virtually every body of water in the United States"
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The African Fertilizer Volunteer's Program (AFVP) is a call to global fertilizer industry experts willing to volunteer their time and knowledge towards building the African fertilizer value chain. The ultimate goal of the program is to increase fertilizer users and usage in the continent. The program is run jointly by the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) and the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA).

The AFVP works to:

- Mobilize global expertise and increase smallholder fertilizer usage in Africa
- Provide targeted support across the fertilizer development value chain in Africa
- Facilitate South to South and North to South cooperation in the fertilizer sector in Africa

Interested organizations can:

- Contribute to the knowledge and skills of the African workforce by sponsoring new programs
- Enable employees to gain valuable and stimulating experience in new and developing markets

Expertise is sought in a wide range of domains, from project development and financing to marketing, though logistics, distribution, blending, and safety, health and environment (SHE) in production. AFVP provides a great opportunity for both retired practitioners and professionals still engaged in the industry to lend a hand in building a vibrant sustainable fertilizer value chain.
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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that starting April 15, eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

"We implemented these programs in record time and kept our commitment to begin sign-up today," said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "To ensure enrollment goes as smoothly as possible, dedicated staff in over 2,000 Farm Service Agency offices across the country are doing everything necessary to help producers that have suffered through two and a half difficult years with no assistance because these programs were awaiting Congressional action."

Producers signing up for assistance programs are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for information on the types of records needed and to schedule an appointment. Taking these steps in advance will help producers ensure their application moves through the process as quickly as possible.

Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss. Details are available from any local FSA office.

For more information, producers may review the
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Introduction: This is the final entry in a series of three blog posts from Syngenta experts on the growing challenge of resistance. Allison Tally, Ph.D., technical product lead for fungicides at Syngenta, wraps the series with an overview of fungicide resistance and how industry stakeholders – from agribusinesses to farmers – can help fight against it. For more information on this as well as other agronomic topics, please visit www.syngentathrive.com, the companion website for Thrive magazine.

We’ve all heard about staph-resistant bacteria in hospitals and warnings not to use antibiotics when they aren’t needed to help prevent resistance. Microorganisms can reproduce quickly and mutate, developing resistance to the medicines that can help us. Plant diseases can also become resistant to “plant medicines,” rendering them either totally or partially ineffective.

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The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) is now accepting nominations for the Agricultural Retailer of the Year Award. The award, sponsored by Monsanto, ARA and AgProfessional magazine, honors retailers who consistently exceed their customer’s expectations and serve as a positive example for other retailers through their outstanding, sustainable and innovative business practices.

The winner of the ARA Retailer of the Year Award receives two round-trip airline tickets and two nights of accommodations at the Sheraton New Orleans on Canal Street during the ARA Conference & Exposition, Dec. 4-6, 2014; round-trip flight to meet with Monsanto representatives and ARA officers for a VIP dinner and tour of Monsanto’s state of the art research facilities in St. Louis, Missouri; special award presentation at the ARA Conference; and a crystal award to display at the retail facility. In addition, Monsanto and ARA will produce a professional video about your operation and AgProfessional magazine will include a two-page article featuring the winning agricultural retailer in their magazine and on the ARA Retailer of the Year Award website at

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ResponsibleAg, a joint initiative by the Agricultural Retailers Association and The Fertilizer Institute, recently announced the slate of Directors for the new organization. 

The directors were carefully selected from a cross section of the agricultural retail and fertilizer supply chain. ResponsibleAg’s Board will be comprised of nine members, five representatives from ARA and four from TFI.

Dave Ito, Manager, Human Resources & Regulatory Affairs, Lyman/Tremont Group; Tim McArdle, Executive Vice President & COO, Brandt Consolidated; Billy Pirkle, Sr. Director, Environmental, Health & Safety, Crop Production Services; Scott Rawlins, Director, Regulatory & Governmental Affairs, Wilbur-Ellis; and Rod Wells, Manager, Plant Food Division, GROWMARK will represent ARA.

Alicia Duke, Director, Health and Safety, Simplot; Justin Gough, Director, Agricultural Products, LSB/El Dorado Chemical Company; Pete Mutschler, Environmental and Safety Director, CHS Inc.; and Rosemary O’Brien, Vice President, Public Affairs, CF Industries, Inc., will represent TFI.

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The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), CropLife America (CLA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) expressed concern about the potential impacts of new Clean Water Act (CWA) proposed regulations on crop protection product applications and agriculture.

Proposed regulations were released on March 25 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).

As noted by CLA, the "waters of the U.S." rulemaking intends to clarify protections under the CWA and includes definitions of "navigable" rivers, lakes, streams, coastal areas, wetlands and other water bodies. Proposed regulations released by EPA and the Corps may greatly expand these definitions to include additional bodies of water, and influence the jurisdictional reach of all programs of the CWA, creating additional unnecessary regulatory burdens for the agricultural community and applicators of pesticide products. The rulemaking also impacts federal control over certain crop protection product applications near bodies of water and enforcement of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permits for pesticides.

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During the House Agriculture Committee meeting Thursday, March 13, the committee approved H.R. 935, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act.

The bill would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) to clarify Congressional intent and eliminate the requirement of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the use of pesticides already approved for use under FIFRA.

ARA joined a large coalition of proponents in the agricultural community to voice support for the bill.

H.R. 935 is necessary to address the negative economic consequences of the ruling posed by National Cotton Council v. EPA (6th Cir. 2009), which requires pesticide users to obtain a redundant permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) or be subject to a costly fine.

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On March 11-12, ARA Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Counsel Richard Gupton attended the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) board meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

The AASA is a nonprofit organization that has lead development of a stewardship inspection program for agricultural retail facilities that store bulk, mini bulk, portable refillable containers (PRC's) and packaged crop protection products. Gupton provided the AASA Board with an update on the ResponsibleAg program recently launched by ARA and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI). 
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The Agricultural Retailers Association has joined with the United Soybean Board to take action against herbicide resistant weeds, and we hope you will help. Take Action is a program encouraging farmers to develop proactive strategies to manage herbicide-resistant weeds. University weed scientists, major herbicide providers and soy, corn, cotton, sorghum and wheat organizations are working together to talk to farmers with a consistent message related to weed management.

The Take Action program is focused on four major areas: weed biology, field-management practices, understanding herbicides and the economics of weed control. Several tools have been developed that may be useful to you.

Customer-focused educational resources and more are available at www.TakeActionOnWeeds.com.

We encourage you to use these resources and share them with your farmer customers. If you would like additional copies, just visit

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As regulations are being considered, the agriculture community is launching a proactive, responsible commitment aimed at the long-term improvement of Lake Erie's water quality.

On March 18, the Ohio Agribusiness Association launched a new 4R certification program designed specifically for ag retailers and aimed at long-term improvement of the quality of water in the Lake Erie Basin. A launch event was hosted March 18 at the Perrysburg Holiday Inn in Perrysburg, Ohio.

"This voluntary new program builds on the 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles to provide a consistent, recognized standard for agricultural retailers in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan where surrounding waters drain into Lake Erie," said Chris Henney, president and CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, which is the administrator of the program. "While individual growers aren't included under the scope of the standard, it's critical they work in concert with agricultural retailers to adopt best practices to realize long-term improvements."

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The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) is hosting a panel discussion on the economic and ecological benefits of agricultural conservation systems from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., April 2, at the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C.

The five-member panel is made up of a farmer, a conservation advocate, a Congressional staffer, a Purdue professor and an ag journalist. They will combine to provide a dynamic discussion on the benefits of agricultural conservation systems, which are practices used on the farm to improve the soil, reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, keep nutrients on the farm and more (see below for a more comprehensive definition). Their extensive experience will provide an excellent overall look at the current state of conservation used in agriculture.

The discussion will include the following topics:

  • Conservation in the Farm Bill
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The Watershed Academy is hosting a webcast from 1 to 3 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time) March 25 that will provide basic information on how cover crops and other conservation systems can be used to provide environmental benefits in watersheds across the U.S.

The webcast will explain how cover crops can reduce nutrient losses to watersheds by scavenging nitrates that would otherwise be lost to leaching. In addition, cover crops reduce sediment and phosphorous losses to nearby waterways by acting as a vegetative buffer to slow down surface erosion and increase water infiltration. By using cover crops, farmers can provide environmental benefits while also providing other on-farm benefits. Register for the Webinar to learn more about cover crops
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This is the second in a series of three blog posts from Syngenta experts on the growing challenge of resistance. Caydee Savinelli, Ph.D., pollinator and integrated pest management stewardship lead at Syngenta, continues the series with an overview of insecticide resistance and how farmers can manage it. For more information on this as well as other agronomic topics, please visit www.syngentathrive.com, the companion website for Thrive magazine.

Insecticide resistance can greatly diminish the value of products in the marketplace. It can lead to an increase in the number and frequency of applications to control insects at the same level as in the past. With the onset of insecticide resistance, product nonperformance complaints go up and grower confidence goes down—something ARA members, including Syngenta

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This is the first in a series of three blog posts from Syngenta experts on the growing challenge of resistance. Les Glasgow, Ph.D., technical product lead for herbicides, kicks off the series with an overview of the history, implications and possible solutions for battling herbicide resistance. For more information on this as well as other agronomic topics, please visit www.syngentathrive.com, the companion website for Thrive magazine.

Over the last 10 years, we've seen a significant increase in the incidence of herbicide-resistant weeds. This trend was confirmed in a 2012 grower survey, which estimated that glyphosate-resistant weeds infested 61.2 million acres. Of the growers interviewed, 49 percent reported glyphosate-resistant weeds on their farms, representing a staggering 51 percent increase over the previous year.

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Honor your company's commitment to environmental stewardship best practices by entering DuPont's Environmental Respect Awards.

Winners will receive coverage of your environmental stewardship in the pages of CropLife magazine and on CropLife.com and EnvironmentalRespect.com and pride and staff morale is heightened as your stewardship efforts are recognized locally and nationally. Awards will be presented at a special awards ceremony in July.

Visit

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced proposed revisions to the Worker Protection Standard to safeguard farm workers from pesticide exposure.

EPA is proposing improvements to worker training regarding the safe usage of pesticides, including how to prevent and effectively treat pesticide exposure. Increased training and signage to inform farm workers about the protections they are afforded under the law and will help them protect themselves and their families from pesticide exposure.

Workers and others near treated fields would now be protected from pesticide overspray and fumes. In addition, EPA has proposed that children under 16 be legally barred from handling all pesticides, with an exemption for family farms.

ARA is reviewing the proposal and will submit comments during the 90-day comment period.  We welcome ARA member input on this important issue.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide close to $3 million in technical and financial assistance for interested farmers and ranchers to help improve the health of bees, which play an important role in crop production. The funding is a focused investment to improve pollinator health and will be targeted in five Midwestern states, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

This assistance will provide guidance and support to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that provide safe and diverse food sources for honey bees. For example, appropriate cover crops or rangeland and pasture management may provide a benefit to producers by reducing erosion, increasing the health of their soil, inhibiting invasive species, providing quality forage and habitat for honey bees and other pollinators, as well as habitat for other wildlife.

Applications are due March 21, 2014.

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Please join Faegre Baker Daniels for the Food & Agriculture National Conference Wednesday, May 14, in Minneapolis. The event will bring together national industry leaders, in-house counsel, business executives and regulatory representatives from global, market-leading companies.

Speakers include Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine,
United States Food & Drug Administration; Jeffrey Ettinger, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hormel Foods Corporation; and Ramona Romero, General Counsel, United States Department of Agriculture.

In addition to plenary sessions, the conference will feature interactive panel sessions on the Food Safety Modernization Act, consumer fraud class action litigation, supply chain management, social media and brand protection, OSHA enforcement actions, animal health, genetically modified organisms, strategies for doing business in China, nutrient regulation, agribusiness bankruptcies, and immigration and global mobility.

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For the past several months, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) have been working on a guidance document for agricultural retailers handling ammonium nitrate. The document, available here, covers safety, security and transportation at retail facilities.

ARA and TFI felt it was a necessary effort because several government agencies have been citing the Institute of Makers of Explosives (IME) guidance document for technical grade ammonium nitrate. Absent a document applicable to fertilizer, the agencies have indicated to ARA and TFI that they will continue to reference the IME document.

TFI and ARA agree that the IME document is an excellent source of information; however, much of the guidance is not applicable to fertilizer facilities.

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