ARA Member Code of Conduct
Approved by the ARA Board of Directors on September 13, 2018
- General Conduct: Members of the Association shall:
- Operate in a professional and ethical manner with the highest integrity.
- Comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations.
- Strictly abide by antitrust laws and ARA’s policy statement regarding antitrust compliance.
- Respect the reputation of our sector and other organizations within it and work to continually improve our collective reputation.
- ARA members may be in competition in the marketplace but the Association is not a place to seek competitive advantage against other members. ARA and its members will strive to ensure that the Association is a place where common ground is sought and common objectives pursued for the good of ag retailers and the agricultural industry in general regardless of business size, geographic location, or business type.
- Abide by the Policies of the organization as established by the Board, including but not limited to the organization’s policy on confidentiality.
- ARA will maintain confidentiality of sensitive competitive information provided to it by members. Members participating in ARA work where confidential information is used agree to maintain its confidentiality.
- ARA governance decisions and processes are confidential to the organization and must not be divulged to third parties or news media.
- Actively support the Mission and Vision of ARA.
- Policy Position Dissent
As independent companies, ARA Members may decide to dissent from an ARA public policy position. While the Association’s objective is to strive for consensus on every issue, ARA recognizes that there may be cases, following the constructive sharing of diverse opinions, when individual members may ultimately choose to dissent from an ARA public policy position. ARA respects this right and the Member respects the need for ARA to be able to speak on behalf of the entire ag retail industry.
- Dissenting members must provide 7 business days' email or written notice to the President & CEO, including the basis for dissent, before disseminating information publicly that contradicts an established policy position of the Association. The intent of this notice is to allow time to reconcile the two differing positions. It is the responsibility of ARA to initiate this reconciliation process.
- If the differences cannot be reconciled, the dissenting member agrees to clearly state in written materials and verbal conversations on the topic that it is speaking only for its own interests and is not speaking for ARA or other retailers.
- As long as a Member is dissenting from an ARA public policy position, and has communicated that dissent to a third party, its representatives may not participate in ARA discussions about ARA’s policy position and strategies on that subject.
- Similar procedures should be followed in those cases where the Association does not have an existing position on an issue, but has begun the process of developing such a position.
- Stewardship programs - ARA member companies are committed to responsible conduct, product and environmental stewardship, and compliance with applicable regulations. Member companies should have programs that encourage and demonstrate regulatory compliance and environmental stewardship either through their own programs or through industry efforts like 4R Nutrient Stewardship, ResponsibleAg, ACRC container recycling, etc.
- Enforcement and appeal procedures: The ARA Bylaws include provisions for expectations of members, conduct of members, and enforcement and appeal procedures if the Board elects to expel a member. Members are expected to comply with the Bylaws, support the mission, vision and objectives of ARA, and comply with any lawful rule or practice adopted by the Association. Members are also expected to not engage in conduct detrimental to the interests of the Association. [Article II Sections 2 and 4].
- The following procedures will be followed should the Board of Directors conclude that disciplinary action against a Member is justified:
Prior to initiating the expulsion or suspension provisions described in Article II Section 4 of the Bylaws, upon a majority vote of the Board of Directors to do so, the President will notify a Member in writing that the conduct of the Member is believed to have violated the requirements in the ARA Bylaws and/or this Code of Conduct. Such communication will describe the particular concern(s) at issue and stipulate a time and date at which the Member may present its case either verbally or in writing before the Board of Directors.
- The Member will then be dismissed for the Board to consider in Executive Session whether the Member’s conduct warrants a warning or reprimand, or if suspension or expulsion is justified.
- Should the Board conclude that suspension or expulsion is justified, the provisions in Article II Section 4 of the ARA Bylaws define the procedures to follow. A Member must be notified in writing at least fifteen (15) days in advance by certified mail before any final action (suspension or expulsion) will be finalized. The Member will have an opportunity to be heard verbally or in writing at a time and place determined by the Board at least five (5) days prior to the expulsion or suspension action.
 “Third Party” is intended to mean anyone other than the Member and ARA, including Congressional offices, governmental agencies, the news media or other external parties.