Policy Priorities

Farm Bill


Issue Summary: Agricultural retailers and distributors play a critical role in the nation’s food security by providing essential crop inputs, crop consulting services, and custom application services. Crop insurance serves as a vital safety net for farmers. Conservation and technical assistance programs promote the use of precision agriculture technologies.

ARA Position: Support a Farm Bill that protects crop insurance safety nets. Improve the certification process for Technical Service Providers and include 4R nutrient management in NRCS stewardship program plans. Support National Agricultural Statistical Service Conservation Effects Assessment Project. Maintain current acreage dedicated to conservation programs (CRP/CSP) and protect working lands. Farm Bill Issue Paper...

NPDES Permit


Issue Summary: Pesticide applicators are subject to court-created requirements to obtain a Clean Water Act NPDES Pesticide General Permit for lawful applications near ‘waters of the U.S.’ for products already closely reviewed and regulated for use by EPA with stringent FIFRA label restrictions.

ARA Position: Support legislation (HR 953 / S 340) that protects applicators from the NPDES permit’s duplicative requirements and legal liability. Strong bipartisan support exists in the House and Senate. Legislation passed in the 112th (HR 872) and 113th (HR 935) Congress by wide margins. Read more...

Rural Infrastructure


Issue Summary: Transportation infrastructure (highways, bridges, locks and dams, rail, harbor and ports) and rural broadband deployment are most obvious needs for rural communities. Federal investment along with public-private partnerships, easing regulations and revising outdated statutory requirements, will ensure efficient use of funds and timely completion of projects. Current federal minimum age (21) to obtain a CDL has a negative impact on driver recruitment. Businesses are not able to hire young adults making an initial career choice. New Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is an unnecessary cost and burden on the industry with minimal safety benefits.

ARA Position: Support funding opportunities for rural broadband and transportation infrastructure projects while lessening regulatory burdens. Create a pilot program lowering federal age requirement to obtain a CDL from 21 to 18 years old for short-haul drivers transporting farm supplies and/or agricultural commodities to increase the number of available commercial drivers. Support ELD exemption for all agricultural operations.

PSM Exemption


Issue Summary: Since 1992, agricultural retailers selling anhydrous ammonia have been exempt from OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standard under the “retail exemption,” defined as “an establishment… at which more than half of the income is obtained from direct sales to end users,” otherwise known as the “fifty-percent” rule.

ARA Position: Support codification of the PSM definition of “retail facilities” using the “fifty-percent” rule.

Facility Security


Issue Summary: Agricultural retailers store and sell fertilizers subject to DHS’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). CFATS legislation securing chemical facilities expires in December 2018.

ARA Position: Support short-term reauthorization (four to six years) that recognizes industry-led security measures such as ResponsibleAg and provides clear and consistent federal definitions for ammonium nitrate and ammonium nitrate mixtures. Maintain notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements of the APA for any changes to Chemicals of Interest found in CFATS Appendix A.

Pro-Growth Agenda


Issue Summary: Tax reform legislation passed by Congress will increase agriculture production and alleviate undue burdens such as the costly estate tax. However, it also eliminated Section 199 deduction used by domestic producers. Support federal policies to increase domestic energy production, reduce U.S. manufacturing costs, and promote development and use of renewable fuels. Free and fair trade of agricultural products, equipment, and crop input materials (pesticides, fertilizers, seeds) creates opportunities for the benefit of American agribusinesses and farmers. The current H-2A ag guest worker visa program is broken and only available for part of the agricultural industry.

ARA Position: Support a fix to the tax reform package reinstating the Domestic Production Activities Deduction (DPAD), otherwise known as the Section 199 deduction. Support domestic energy production, and fair-trade agreements, including NAFTA. Support a new, usable guest worker visa program that works for all of American agriculture.