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OWENSBORO, Ky. -- The Asmark Institute announced today the ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Course has received recognition from the Board of Environmental, Health and Safety Auditor Certifications (BEAC).

The course is designed specifically for auditors who intend to perform facility assessments under the ResponsibleAg Certification Program. BEAC’s recognition of the course is based on a comprehensive evaluation of course content, training materials, course environment and instructor qualifications. The ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Course joins other training programs recognized by BEAC such as the American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care, SOCMA’s ChemStewards and The Auditing Roundtable courses.

Brian Miller, CPEA and Compliance Assurance Specialist with Agrium and Dr. Fred Whitford, Coordinator of Purdue University Pesticide Programs, are the lead instructors for the course. Together they bring fifty years of EHS experience backed by more than seventy years of experience in agriculture.

“We couldn’t be more pleased than to be working with instructors of this caliber,” said Billy Pirkle, Chairman of ResponsibleAg. “They are each nationally recognized for their work within, and on behalf of the agricultural industry.”
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With the change of the calendar, we re-focus our priorities for the coming year. We examine our sales goals and re-commit to ensuring our facilities are safe and secure for our employees and the communities we serve.


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WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 11, 2014) -- The Agricultural Retailers Association applauds the Senate and the House for passing H.R. 4007, the “Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Program Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014”.

On October 4, 2013, the authorization for CFATS, expired leaving an absence of regulatory authority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to administer or enforce the program. During this time, the CFATS program had no statutory authority to require security measures at high-risk facilities because of the program's attachment to the appropriations cycle.

ARA was the first trade association to engage the House Homeland Security Committee to draft a bill divorcing the program's funding from the appropriations cycle.

"Due to the government shutdown it is imperative that the CFATS program be able to stand on its own, conduct inspections and provide regulatory certainty," said ARA Public Policy Counsel Michael Kennedy. "This bill accomplish that goal and more."  

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NEW Cooperative was named the Agricultural Retailers Association Retailer of the Year for 2014. The award was presented to NEW Cooperative Director of Operations Frank Huseman on Wednesday during the ARA Annual Conference.

“We’re honored, humbled and excited to be named ARA’s Retailer of the Year,” said Huseman, who accepted the award along with four of NEW Cooperative’s Regional Operations Directors. “It’s an exciting time to be involved in agriculture.”

The award, sponsored by Monsanto, ARA and AgProfessional magazine, honors retailers who represent the best of the industry. Retail outlets nominated for the award are evaluated based on innovative business practices, community and industry leadership, environmental stewardship, reliability, technology utilization, customer service and effective employee development programs. Recent winners have included Morral Companies, Wheat Growers, Lyman/Tremont Group, Central Valley Ag and Willard Agri-Service.

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Nine new directors were named to and nine directors stepped off the Agricultural Retailers Association Board of Directors for 2015. Incoming and outgoing directors were recognized during the ARA Conference & Expo general session on December 3. 

Incoming Directors

  • John Demerly, Dow Agrosciences
  • Jim Fargo, Centennial Ag
  • Brian Harrington, Carolina Eastern Vail Inc.
  • Todd Hudelson, Mid Valley Ag
  • Troy Johnson, Wilbur-Ellis
  • Ian McGregor, The McGregor Company
  • Brooke McMullin, International Raw Materials
  • Gary Vogen, Yara North America
  • Tim Witcher, Greenpoint Ag

Outgoing Directors

  • Johnny Council, Lyman-Tremont Group
  • Wade Castleberry, Home Oil Company
  • Mike Karasiewicz, Wilbur-Ellis
  • Tim Perotti, Carolina Eastern Vail
  • Jim Klein, Centennial Ag
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ARA applauds Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Suzanne Spaulding's call to provide multi-year authorization of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards during this Congress. As a vital private industry stakeholder, ARA has worked closely with DHS to create a program that protects our critical infrastructure from a terrorist attack while allowing the flexibility to supply our growers in feeding the world.

DHS’s current leadership has made great strides in reforming the current CFATS program, and our joint efforts deserve long-term authorization. We urge the Senate to take up CFATS legislation and get it to the President’s desk by the holidays. A multi-year re-authorization will give agricultural retailers the regulatory certainty required to make the nation safer.

Read the full editorial here (The Hill).

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Ohio Agribusiness Association President Chris Henney made a presentation this morning during the agricultural outreach meeting conducted by Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water. 

Henney discussed OABA's proactive work on water quality, dating back to a 2011 algal bloom in Lake Erie. Working with a diverse group of stakeholders in Ohio, a series of actions were put in place including mandatory certification for fertilizer applications of 50 acres or more and a voluntary 4R Retailer Certification program set up by OABA in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and other organizations. 

The program created audit-able criteria based on 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles. More than 50 retail locations have committed to join the program, and OABA expects to announce the first four successful applicants next week. Henney also provided information to EPA on the extent of nutrient stewardship research that is being done by the 4R Research Fund, as well as partnership efforts with NRCS and Certified Crop Advisers in Ohio.

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Farm Foundation 9-2014

Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced proposed regulations to the "Waters of the U.S." to clarify Clean Water Act protection for water resources. The proposal, which is open for public comment through Oct. 20, focuses on streams and wetlands that feed into navigable lakes, rivers and estuaries. How the nation should approach water quality policies was the subject of a Farm Foundation Forum at the National Press Club September 12. ARA President & CEO Daren Coppock attended the forum.

Tracy Mehan, national source water protection coordinator for the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, spoke on behalf of regulators. Mehan is also an adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law, a member of the Environmental Law Institute, and a former assistant administrator for water at the EPA.

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In a press conference Sept. 25, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it approved the first commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the continental United States.

The petition, filed under Section 333 of the 2012 FAA Reauthorization Act, allows six film companies to commercially fly their UAVs on "closed sets" without airworthiness certificates via Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA). A seventh petition was also filed as a part of this request, but is still pending FAA approval. Read more...

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Two of the biggest fertilizer producers in the world are in talks about what could be the next inversion deal to be announced. 

CF Industries, based in Deerfield, Ill., near Chicago, and Yara International of Norway both confirmed on Tuesday that they were in discussions about a deal that would essentially be a merger of equals. Read more (NY Times)... 

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Just as legislative business wound down before the November mid-term elections, the House Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry held a hearing on a topic that even a partisan Congress appears to agree on - the importance of soil health. 

At the hearing, the "Benefits of Promoting Soil Health in Agriculture and Rural America," ranking member Thompson (R-Penn.) and ranking member Walz (D-Minn.), both underscored the importance of conservation programs, including those conservation practices outlined in the 2014 Farm Bill in promoting soil health. Read the full article |

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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.

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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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