Policy Priorities

Rural Infrastructure


Rural Infrastructure / Transportation 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 Federal investment, public-private partnerships, easing regulations and revising outdated statutory requirements, will ensure efficient use of funds and timely completion of projects.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. The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate has highlighted underlying issues with the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, imposed unnecessary costs and burden on the industry with minimal safety benefits.

ARA Position: Support expanded funding opportunities for rural broadband and transportation infrastructure projects while lessening regulatory burdens. Support expanded pilot program for short haul drivers between the ages of 18 to 20 transporting farm supplies and/or agricultural commodities to increase number of available commercial drivers. Support the HOS / ELD reforms for drivers of all agricultural operations and short haul operations. Support an opt-in voluntary pilot program for states to allow 91,000 lbs., 6 axle, bridge formula compliant trucks on Federal Interstate Highways.

CFATS Reauthorization


CFATS Reauthorization Issue Summary: Agricultural retailers store and sell fertilizers subject to Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). CFATS legislation securing chemical facilities expires in April 2020.

ARA Position: Support short-term reauthorization (up 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.

Ag Workforce/Immigration Reform


Agricultural Workforce / Immigration Reform Issue Summary: The agricultural community is dependent on a sustainable workforce now more than ever. Every farm worker engaged in high-value labor intensive crop and livestock production sustains two to three off-farm jobs. The current H-2A ag guest worker visa program is broken and only available for part of the agricultural industry.

ARA Position: Support the establishment of a comprehensive immigration reform policy that provides for a new, usable ag guest worker visa program with a reliable verification system, secures the borders, and provides current farm workers the opportunity to apply for legal status through the sponsorship of an eligible agricultural employer.

Agricultural Trade


Agricultural Trade Issue Summary: Agricultural retailers and distributors play a vital role in the success of the nation's food security. Their farmer customers produce goods for global markets and seek free and fair trade with foreign countries.

ARA Position: Support policies that promote free trade of agricultural products, equipment, and crop input materials (pesticides, fertilizers, seeds) that create opportunities for the benefit of American agribusiness and farmers. Support Passage of the U.S., Mexico, Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Support USDA Trade Mitigation payments while tariffs continue to hinder trade markets.

Regulatory Reform


Regulatory Reform Issue Summary: NPDES Pesticide General Permit (PGP): Pesticide applicators are subject to court-created requirements to obtain a Clean Water Act NPDES 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. OSHA PSM retail exemption: 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 bipartisan legislation that protects users from NPDES permit's duplicative requirements and legal liability. Support codification of the PSM definition of "retail facilities" using the "fifty-percent" rule.