The Missouri Agribusiness Association is committed to the agribusiness industry within the Show-Me State by offering services that will enhance the day-to-day operations of agribusinesses now and in the future.
MO-AG's mission simply states, "The mission of the Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG) is to advocate for the business of agriculture while offering services and networking opportunities for the agribusiness community."
2016 Pyramid of MO-AG Program Sponsors
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Legislation of Interest
Click here to see legislation of interest.
News You Can Use
West Texas Criminal Arson
The fire that led to the deadly explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant in April 2013 has been determined to be arson, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. The agency arrived at its conclusion after conducting more than 400 interviews, did a fire-scene examination and reviewed videos and witness photos. As a result of the findings, the agency is now offering a reward of $50,000 to help find the person who started the fire, which is now being considered a crime. So far, no arrests have been made and it is unknown what the motive was for setting the fire.
The ARA said it and its member companies remain committed to community and employee safety through the secure and responsible handling of ammonium nitrate and other essential crop production nutrients. In an effort to further enhance a culture of safety and accountability within the fertilizer industry, ARA and TFI established ResponsibleAg. Using third-party audits and other tools, ResponsibleAg assists agricultural retailers with federal regulatory compliance surrounding the safe handling and storage of fertilizer.
GMOs are safe
Genetically engineered crops present no more risk to human health than conventionally bred crops, but the evolution of resistance in both insects and weeds caused by growing such crops has become "a major agricultural problem," according to a long-awaited study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. "Policy regarding (genetically engineered) crops has scientific, legal, and social dimensions," according to the report summary. "For example, on the basis of its review of the evidence on health effects, the committee does not believe that mandatory labeling of foods with GE content is justified to protect public health, but it noted that the issue involves social and economic choices that go beyond technical assessments of health or environmental safety; ultimately, it involves value choices that technical assessments alone cannot answer." While genetically engineered crops have benefited some farmers, the report said, there's also evidence of insects developing resistance to crops intended to thwart them, and weeds growing resistant to the glyphosate-based herbicide commonly sprayed on genetically modified crops, when the crops are not properly managed. The report also found no direct link between bioengineered crops and harm to the environment.
In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the report "adds to the long list of research that shows genetically engineered foods are safe" and called on Congress to take action to "prevent further confusion." Source: Chicago Tribune
Organic Attacking Conventional Agriculture
Big Ag is losing the war of public opinion to organic marketers who are eroding consumers' trust in their products, Jay Byrne, a former Clinton official, told attendees of the Animal Agriculture Alliance Summit on Thursday in Arlington, Va. "We are under attack in conventional agriculture by organic marketing," said Byrne, who heads an agriculture PR firm. "And nobody is coming to our side. And we are losing."
Byrne, a communications director for the Clinton campaign in 1992 who went on to serve as the chief spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development, encouraged livestock farmers and producers to fight negative media coverage and cultivate an aura of empathy with consumers. He said conventional food producers haven't been aggressive enough, as evidenced by the negative perception of genetically engineered crops. "We didn't do very well with that, quite frankly." Source: Politico
WHO Finally Lands On Right Answer For Glyphosate
The WHO's Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) announced that it believes glyphosate is "unlikely to cause cancer in people via dietary exposure." The announcement contradicts the opinion expressed earlier by another WHO body, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, that the chemical is "probably carcinogenic to humans." Phil Miller, Monsanto's vice president for global regulatory and government affairs, described JMPR's decision as a form of exoneration. "IARC's classification was inappropriate and inconsistent with the science on glyphosate," he said. "Based on the overwhelming weight of evidence, the JMPR has reaffirmed the findings of regulatory agencies around the world that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a cancer risk." Source: Politico
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, testifying before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, said she and the agency were "distressed about the use of the money and the tone of the campaign," and that the agency has cut off funding to the group. EPA's Inspector General announced there will be an investigation of the spending. EPA funded an anti-agriculture billboard campaign in Washington State urging state voters to contact their lawmakers to ensure the agriculture industry is held to the same standards as other industries when it comes to runoff and river pollution.
Source: Asmark Institute
Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Update
Agriculture and other industry interests opposed to EPA's controversial "waters of the U.S." rulemaking were disappointed recently when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider its decision on its jurisdiction over the rulemaking. The agricultural industry wanted the case heard by the federal district courts, leaving the appeals court as second resort in the challenge. The appeals court earlier blocked implementation as various state and industry court actions work their way through the system. Source: Asmark Institute
Registration for the August 5, 2016 CCA Exams NOW OPEN!
As a result of increasing interest in the CCA Program we have added an August CCA Exam. Registration will be open May 2 - June 24, 2016 for the August 5, 2016 CCA Exam. Please click here to register. Study materials can be obtained through the CCA website and it is recommended that you review the performance objectives of both the state and international exam. In addition, the MU Extension has many guide books that will help in the studying process. Please contact the MO-AG office if you have any questions at 573-636-6130.
2016 MO-AG Summer Meeting Registration
Register Now for the MO-AG Summer Meeting Room Block Expires June 30th. The deadline to pre-register for the MO-AG Summer Meeting is Friday, July 8th. Please try to pre-register as we are not guaranteed to have enough food at the banquet if you do not. You can download the brochure here and the registration here.
The other deadline that is approaching is the deadline to reserve a hotel room. Please do so by Thursday, June 30th, you are not guaranteed a room after this date. Hotel reservations can be made by calling 573-365-5620; mention MOAG0716 to get the below rates:
Rates: $134/night plus tax for Deluxe Rooms
$144/night plus tax for One Bedroom Suite
$164/night plus tax for One Bedroom Double-Bed Suite
We hope to see all of you at the Summer Meeting!
Missouri Legislature Update
MO-AG's priority legislation appears well positioned as the legislature enters the last weeks of session. The fertilizer control board legislation, SB665, needs only a vote on the house floor in order to be sent to the Governor and signed into law. The fertilizer preemption bill, HB1729, was brought to the Senate floor for a vote last week, but, was not voted on due to an issue with an amendment which added seed to the bill. MO-AG supported the amendment especially given that seed preemption has come before the legislature of other states this year and have passed. (For a list of states passing seed preemption and other seed related state legislation, see THIS from ASTA). MO-AG is hopeful that HB1729 will be brought back up on the Senate floor very soon. The fertilizer language was also added to this year's agriculture omnibus bill, SB703. SB703 needs a vote on the House floor as well as the Senate floor before being sent to the Governor. Besides the fertilizer language, SB703 also contains the ethanol incentive fund, ag disaster payments, and the show-me rural jobs, as well as other provisions.
Other legislation that MO-AG has supported is the MDA tax credits. That legislation has now been added to Sen. Parson's AgriMissouri trademark bill, SB665. The legislature also passed appropriations legislation that appropriates all monies for FY 2017. HB2006 funds MDA and MDNR and includes $9.9M for biodiesel incentive fund, $2.5M for the dairy revitalization act, $2M for the beef initiative, $1M for MDA to open international offices, and many other items. For MDNR, the legislature directed that MDNR not use any funding to implement or enforce the EPA's federal water quality rule 'WOTUS'. The passage of the appropriations bills comes ahead of the constitutional deadline for appropriations which will allow the legislature to override any vetoes by the Governor during the regular session.
To see all of MO-AG's 'legislation of interest', CLICK HERE
Other Legislation of Note
Lawmakers have sent roughly a $27.2 billion state budget to Gov. Jay Nixon that increases spending on higher education as a whole, while specifically cutting funding from the University of Missouri System. House and Senate Republicans insisted on sending a message to the UM Board of Curators expressing their disapproval over how last fall's unrest on the Mizzou campus was handled. That message manifested itself in a $3.8 million cut that targets the administration.
The final version of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget also revives the Department of Transportation's cost-share program, in which local governments would pay part of the cost of a road or bridge project in exchange for speeding up construction. The program was suspended two years ago due to MoDOT's bleak transportation funding outlook, but the picture has improved a bit due to last year's federal highway bill and recent increases in fuel tax collections. Bringing back the cost-share program was one of House Speaker Todd Richardson's top priorities, who's also opposed to a Senate bill that would raise the state's fuel tax. "A tax increase of any kind is going to be very, very difficult to do," Richardson told reporters Thursday. "(But), we've got some (House) members that are interested in giving it a fair hearing...we'll see where it goes from there." Source: St. Louis Public Radio
Beef Checkoff Fails
Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce announced that the state will not establish a new beef checkoff. This announcement comes after the director approved a petition to conduct a referendum of Missouri cattle producers, at the request of the Missouri Beef Industry Council and pursuant to section 275.352 RSMo as amended, to establish a $1.00 per head state beef checkoff assessment on Dec. 23, 2015. On April 4, 2016, ballots were mailed to the 8,480 Missouri beef producers who registered during the registration period. Of those, 6,568 valid ballots were returned to the Missouri Department of Agriculture postmarked no later than April 15. 1,663 producers (25.33%) voted for the checkoff and 4,903 producers (74.67%) voted against it. Source: MDA
Farm Income Forecasted Down Next 10 Years
"The USDA forecasts real (adjusted for inflation) net farm income will be in the low $50 billion range annually for the next 10 years, which is down dramatically from recent highs and similar to the 1980s," said Jeff Swanhorst, executive vice president, credit and chief credit offer of AgriBank. What Swanhorst said at the end of his quoted comments is the most interesting aspects of the news about farmers and challenges. "All we know for sure is the forecast will be wrong. Farmers will make many adjustments, depending on their circumstances, and they'll be rewarded for their entrepreneurial spirit, management and good old-fashioned hustle."
At this point in the spring season, those farmers who will defy the predicted dire situation have headed down a course of adjustment and dealt with borrowing operating funds. And from all the bank reports, the bankers are not worried about the farmers that have a management plan in place-some kind of plan whether it be "crisis" plan or an entrepreneurial change in operations. Maintaining operations and dealing with bugs, disease and crop nutrient needs have to continue and will be dealt with as needed-ignoring the problems to simply throw away a crop isn't going to happen. Farmers will complain but not burn you in effigy. Source: Ag Professional
EPA Funds Smear of Agriculture
The Swinomish Indian tribe put up the billboards in Olympia and Bellingham to promote What's Upstream, a media campaign crafted by a public relations firm to link agriculture with water pollution. The billboards assert: "Unregulated agriculture is putting our waterways at risk." A photo shows three cows standing in a stream.
The tribe has received EPA grants totaling nearly $570,000, primarily for the services of Seattle PR firm Strategies 360. The EPA says it concluded What's Upstream has not broken prohibitions on lobbying with federal funds because it has not advocated for or against specific legislation. The group's website includes a "Take Action" link in which people can send form letters to their state legislators asking lawmakers impose mandatory 100-foot buffers between farm fields and waterways. Farm groups complain these and other images used by What's Upstream inaccurately portray farm practices in Washington.
The Swinomish Tribe's environmental policy director, Larry Wasserman, said in an earlier interview he does not know where the cow photo was taken. Source: Capital Press
MDNR Proposes Permit Modifications
The MDNR is proposing modifications to permit MO-R240000 which also effects permit MO-R241000. Some may know these as the 'AgChem' permits. This permit pertains to facilities that handle bulk agrichemicals, which includes pesticides and fertilizers. MO-AG members that currently have this permit should have received a post card from the MDNR encouraging you to review the draft permit and to submit comments. The current permits and the draft permit with proposed modifications can be found at the MDNR's website HERE.
MO-AG is currently reviewing the draft permit as we prepare our comments to the MDNR. We would encourage you do so as well and we would appreciate hearing any thoughts you may have regarding the proposed modifications.
Two new and significant items in the modified permit include stormwater benchmark sampling from uncovered operational containment areas and a requirement to develop and implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). Benchmarks are used to determine effectiveness of control measures and can be numeric measures of water quality. Failure to meet benchmarks may require revised practices or capital expenditures. A SWPPP is a plan which documents actions to prevent or control pollution of stormwater and can include Best Management Practices (BMPs). BMPs reduce the amount of pollution entering waters of the state. The SWPPP will include training requirements and monthly inspections that must be documented.
One specific concern with these new requirements is the deadlines imposed. For example, the draft permit requires a SWPPP within 90 days of the permit issuance. Given this is a new requirement and there is no guidance on how SWPPPs should be developed for these facilities, it seems the deadline should be greatly extended.
The deadline to comment is 5pm on May 9th. Information on how to submit comments are found on the cover sheet of the draft permit. Again, we encourage you to contact us with any comments you might have prior to May 9th so that we can consider and incorporate them into comments from MO-AG.
Time to Regulate Agriculture?
It's time for Iowa farm organizations to face reality and become proactive in helping create a regulatory program that will work for farmers. A common-sense solution to our water quality problems is a flexible regulatory program that would give farmers the ability to choose which practices to use on their own farms, as long as each farm meets water quality standards. Several alternative proposals are being floated for mechanisms to raise money to fund water quality improvements. For example, a recent proposal suggests that a tax be put on agricultural commodities to raise money to fund the adoption of water quality practices by farmers. There are two problems with that type of approach: 1) All farmers would be taxed, whether they are already taking sufficient measures to protect water quality or not, and 2) The money would be used to try to bribe farmers to adopt water quality practices, instead of requiring them to do so.
Experience tells us that many farmers will not participate regardless of payments, and many farmers will stop using conservation practices as soon as funding ends. We have invested billions of dollars in conservation and water quality programs, and our water quality has continued to deteriorate. History informs us that the likelihood of achieving any real progress in improving our water quality is minimal with voluntary programs. Source: Des Moines Register
4R Strategic Plan Developed
TFI member companies traveled to Washington, D.C. to discuss the new 4R strategic plan. Focusing on implementation for the upcoming fiscal year, the group identified tactics geared toward expanding awareness and adoption by agronomic service providers and their grower customers, filling research and knowledge gaps, tracking 4R implementation, and engaging targeted stakeholders in key issue areas. The plan can be found HERE. Source: TFI
Congress to Consider GMO Labeling, TPP Approval in New Year
Lawmakers are back in Washington, D.C. after the holiday break. According to POLITICO, GMO labeling, child nutrition authorization, approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other pending legislation is expected to be tackled in the new year. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks concluded in late October. The deal between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries is said to be the largest free trade agreement involving the U.S. If approved by Congress, TPP will eliminate more than 18,000 taxes other countries place on U.S. goods in the form of tariffs. The tariff reductions included in the deal will make the export of U.S. beef and other products more price competitive.
Also on the table is a proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which is often referred to as Obamacare. According to Bloomberg, a bill to repeal the legislation has already been passed by the Senate and now requires House approval. House Speaker Paul Ryan has indicated it will be the first bill considered in the House as the second session of the 114th Congress. Lawmakers could also tackle the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule in the coming months. Legislation rolling back the rule was not included in the omnibus spending bill that Congress passed before the Christmas break, so lawmakers could push the House for a vote on the Senate resolution against WOTUS. Source: AgProfessional
Senator Roy Blunt: "OSHA ignored Congressional Intent"
"Why did OSHA ignore clear Congressional intent?" That was the question that Missouri Senator Roy Blunt posed to the Secretary of the Department of Labor, Thomas Perez, during a recent Senate hearing on Appropriations for the Department of Labor (DOL). The issue being discussed was revised OSHA policy that requires agricultural retailers that handle anhydrous ammonia to implement Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard. Sen. Blunt's question was specifically regarding the directions Congress gave to DOL in the FY2016 Appropriations Bill. That law said that OSHA was not to enforce PSM until OSHA had carried out rulemaking procedures. OSHA has declined to implement rulemaking.
During the hearing, Perez stated "this issue is an outgrowth of the horrible catastrophe of West Texas where 15 people died." Sen Blunt quickly and accurately responded that "anhydrous ammonia was not involved in that accident" and that OSHA was "adding a substantial cost penalty to small retailers who have never had an accident, who follow the current rules"
MO-AG greatly appreciates Sen. Blunt defending the fertilizer sector, defending agricultural retailers, and pushing back against this costly, misguided, ineffective, regulatory overreach by OSHA. MO-AG has worked directly with Sen. Blunt and his staff regarding this issue in addition to our national affiliates, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI). ARA and TFI are leading the charge to once again put language in the FY17 appropriations bill to prevent OSHA from implementing PSM (see attached letters to the House and the Senate). In addition, ARA and TFI are taking legal action to prevent OSHA from implementing its PSM on anhydrous ammonia facilities. We greatly appreciate the support of all.
Déjà vu at the State Capitol?
Last year, the republican majority in the Missouri Senate took up and pushed through the 'right to work' issue. As a result, Senate democrats block proceedings and a lot of legislation was left on the Senate floor. This year is starting to have an eerie, familiar feeling. On March 9th, the Missouri Senate took up SJR 39 which regards religious liberty and gay marriage. SJR 39 was muscled through by republicans after a record-breaking filibuster by democrats. After which, the Senate democrats promised to block further proceeding and the Senate took no further votes on any bills and only took up one bill for debate.
There is much speculation about how the Senate will move forward now-if at all. Fertilizer legislation, which MO-AG supports, has made good progress but could be again at risk if work at the Capitol grinds to a halt. The legislature is currently in spring break and the hope of some is that tempers will cool and they will get back to work, though at an admittedly slower pace.
For more information on MO-AG's legislation of interest, CLICK HERE.
GE Labeling Bill Stalls
Whether to force companies to disclose information about genetically engineered (GE) ingredients on their food/feed product labels or allow them to voluntarily disclose such information split the Senate down the middle as Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) watched his compromise legislation to provide a voluntary federal solution to the state labeling challenge fail to get the votes to cut off debate and move to final action.
The political and industry reaction to the vote was swift, focusing on disappointment, but also characterizing the lack of action as a vote against U.S. agriculture. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) called the vote "inexcusable." Said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president, "To say we're angry with those senators who abandoned farmers and ranchers and turned their backs on rural America on this vote is an understatement." The Senate is on a two-week Easter recess. Roberts and his supporters have pledged to continue to work toward a bipartisan solution so the bill can be revisited when the Senate returns. Source: AFIA
Editor's Note: Missouri's Senators split on this vote. Senator Roy Blunt supported agriculture's position on this issue (voted 'yea' for cloture). MO-AG was disappointed to see Senator Clair McCaskill vote 'nay' on the cloture. CLICK HERE to see vote summary.
Stabenow Sides With Organics After Fundraiser
Organic industry executives held a fundraiser for Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow - the Senate's leading Democrat on agriculture issues - just days before the chamber was set to take up a controversial bill with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line for U.S. food companies. The event for Stabenow - the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee - in Anaheim, California, was co-hosted by Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb, Stonyfield Farms Chairman Gary Hirshberg, Organic Valley CEO George Siemon and Laura Batcha, head of the Organic Trade Association. After the fundraiser, Stabenow sided with organic food companies and came out against the bill, authored by Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). Source: Politico
EPA Disturbs CLA
CropLife America (CLA) is surprised and disturbed to learn the EPA has a plan to convene a Science Advisory Panel (SAP) next month to consider the use of flawed epidemiology studies in pesticide regulation. This breaks with long-established Agency standards for sound scientific risk assessment and fails to address concerns expressed in previous SAPs convened by the agency. EPA's long-standing practice has been to use epidemiology studies, not to set regulatory standards, but as a basis for requiring additional regulatory guideline studies and, potentially, further investigation. This practice reflects a recognition that epidemiology studies, by their observational nature, are not appropriate for use in regulatory decision-making for pesticides. Source: AgProfessional
Corn Acres Outpace Expectations for 2016
Producers are switching more acres away from soybeans and toward corn than previously expected, two analysts tell U.S. Farm Report. The news is based on survey data and comes on the heels of Allendale's 2016 acreage survey. "It did affect the market a little bit on the soybeans," says Bill Biedermann, Allendale, in an interview with "U.S. Farm Report" host Tyne Morgan. "There was a little bounce in response to that because soybean acreage did come down just a little bit from what most people were saying before. It's going to be fairly close. Last year, we had 82.7 [million acres], this year we're looking at 82.5 [million] or 82.6 million acres. When you translate that into carryover with trendline yield, you're probably looking at a slight decline in carryover."
In the past 30 to 60 days, he says, acreage plans have shifted as farmers dig into their numbers for the year ahead. "What we're hearing in our winter meeting circuit is more corn acres than we originally thought back in December, for example, post-harvest," says Brian Basting, Advance Trading. "I think a lot of that's being seen in the northern Plains, for example, even some of the rotations being tweaked a little bit in the Midwest, rotations that swung more toward soybeans when soybeans were very favorable the last couple of years, are swinging back toward corn. Not an aggressive increase, but more than we thought a month ago, for sure." Time and weather will tell whether those crop-mix switches pan out and, if so, how they will affect carryout. Source: AgProfessional
ResponsibleAg Growing and Recruiting
The ResponsibleAg organization announced its "registered retail facilities is now in excess of 1,900," and the executive director has seen a "marked uptick in participation," which he expects to continue.
"We are quickly becoming the 'go to' organization for retail compliance assistance tools and assessments," said the executive director, Bill Qualls.
The 1,900 facilities are receiving a comprehensive compliance evaluation, as well as access to comprehensive compliance resources. The registration fee for this service is $150, which was set at a level to encourage participation.
There are at least 10 reasons for retail facilities to participate in ResponsibleAg, according to the organization's leadership. Those are:
1.Avoid OSHA, DOT, DHS and EPA violations and fines.
2.Avoid employee injuries.
3.Prepare for emergency response.
4.Avoid transportation incidents.
5.Enhance facility and operational security.
6.Avoid facility fires.
7.Reduce workers compensation cost.
8.Reduce insurance costs.
9.Support stewardship goals.
10.Protect and enhance a company's reputation.
More facts and information about joining ResponsibleAg are available at www.ResponsibleAg.org.
EPA Proposes to Update RMP Requirements
Prompted by President Obama's Executive Order 13650, EPA is proposing to revise its Risk Management Program (RMP). This proposed rule addresses what appears to be 10 of 19 potential changes the agency sought information on in their July 2014
Request For Information. Citing the RMP requirements have been successful in reducing the number of accidental releases, the agency has focused their efforts on incident investigation, coordination with local emergency responders and third-party compliance audits designed to target those facilities that have accidental releases. Noticeably absent from this proposed rulemaking is the addition of newly regulated substances to the RMP list such as ammonium nitrate and propane. EPA may propose listing additional regulated substances in a separate action. At first glance, EPA proposes to revise the RMP requirements by:
• Adding/expanding certain data elements.•
• Requiring third-party compliance audits for facilities that have incidents.•
• Supporting OSHA's PSM coverage on RMP applicability.
• Requiring a Safer Technology & Alternatives Analysis for processes within NAICS codes 322, 324 and 325.•
• Requiring periodic emergency drills/exercises to test a facility's emergency response program.
• Increasing awareness and importance of facility siting.•
• Requiring periodic coordination and sharing of information with local responders.
• Adding/expanding requirements associated with incident investigation.•
• Proposing the public disclosure of facility information.
• Streamlining certain RMP requirements.
At this time it appears EPA passed on requiring detection equipment, worst case scenario quantities for nurse tanks, basing off
-site consequence analysis on acute exposure guidelines and changing to a "Safety case" regulatory model. The existing Program Levels 1, 2 and 3 remained unchanged.
EPA reported that in the last 10 years more than 1,500 accidents were reported by RMP facilities. These accidents are responsible for causing nearly 60 deaths, some 17,000 people being injured or seeking medical treatment, almost 500,000 people being evacuated or sheltered-in-place and costing more than $2 billion in property damages. Click here to download a copy of the Proposed Rule. The public will have 60 days from publication in the Federal Register to submit written comments online at www.regulations.gov or by mail. Source: Asmark Institute
OSHA Expected to Update the PSM Requirements
Also prompted by President Obama's Executive Order 13650, OSHA is the next agency up in proposing to revise its Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard. While both the RMP and PSM proposed rules have been delayed by a few months, expect OSHA to publish their update this summer. Want to see what OSHA is likely to propose, check out their December 2013 Request For Information by clicking here. Source: Asmark Institute
Court Settlement: EPA to Write Spill Prevention Rule
Heralded as significant news, EPA is agreeing in a settlement with citizen groups to write a major new chemical plant safety rule. EPA will put in place new safeguards to help protect communities from dangerous chemical spills at tens of thousands of industrial facilities nationwide, under the terms of a legal settlement approved by a federal district court in New York. The agreement is meant to strengthen protections as called for by Congress more than four decades ago. Click here to read the legal settlement.
The settlement with EPA, approved by the federal district court for the Southern District of New York, requires EPA to begin a rulemaking process immediately and to finalize spill prevention rules within three and a half years. The forthcoming protections will cover over 350 hazardous chemicals, and will apply broadly to tens of thousands of industrial facilities across the country. There are thousands of hazardous substance spills each year from industrial facilities that are not subject to any hazardous substance spill prevention rules, according to United States Coast Guard data from the last ten years. The chemical involved in the Freedom Industries spill in West Virginia is not listed as a hazardous substance under the Clean Water Act ... and thus would not be covered under the hazardous-substance regulations plaintiffs seek in this case. But the Freedom Industries spill brought to national attention the broader threat posed by the lack of spill-prevention regulations for chemical storage facilities like above-ground storage tanks.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is examining this EPA rulemaking issue as part of its broader investigation of Freedom Industries. In October of 2013, at the request of the company, consultants performed a review of the tank terminals located in Charleston and Nitro.
The evaluation was conducted and approved by an API-653 and 570 certified inspector, who also was credentialed as a National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) Certified Corrosion Technologist. The review notes that the substances stored in tank 396 are considered "non hazardous" by EPA and are therefore not regulated by the federal Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan (SPCC)rule. The review further notes that the tanks have "been maintained to some structural adequacy, but not necessarily in full compliance with API-653 or EPA standards. "API-653 is considered the prevailing voluntary good practice for aboveground storage tank (AST) inspection, repair, alteration and repair, and was developed to establish a uniform national program that assists state and local governments in AST regulations.
EPA is moving forward with proposing a chemical spill prevention rule to address hazardous substances under the Clean Water Act and soliciting public comment on such a proposal. The language from the legal settlement states:
No later than 18 months after the Court's entry of this Consent Decree, EPA shall sign (and within 15 days thereafter transmit to the Office of the Federal Register) a notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to the issuance of the hazardous substance regulations. No later than 14 months after publication of the proposed Hazardous Substance Regulations ... EPA shall sign (and within 15 days thereafter transmit to the Office of the Federal Register) a notice taking final action following notice and comment rulemaking pertaining to the issuance of the Hazardous Substance Regulations. Source: Asmark
MDC: Conservation and agriculture groups partner against feral hogs
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has partnered with other conservation groups, agriculture organizations, and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF) to provide the state's feral hog strike team with more trapping equipment and increase feral hog communications to the public. "The number of requests MDC gets asking for help with feral hogs continues to increase as landowners become aware of the problem with feral hogs and hog hunting," said MDC Agriculture Liaison Brent Vandeloecht. "By collaborating with non-government organizations, MDC can increase funding to provide more traps for use on private and public land and also educate the public on the need to eradicate feral hogs."
The total amount of funds raised equals $53,600 in cash and $23,000 in-kind, which includes costs incurred for the organizations to produce feral hog media efforts for public education. "This is an excellent opportunity to work in collaboration with MDC and its partners to address a serious threat to agricultural and conservation resources," said Chief Administrative Officer for the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation Dan Cassidy.
MDC currently works with private landowners to set traps to catch feral hogs. With the current equipment available, traps are moved from one private property to another after a successful trapping. However, MDC employees have noticed that once a trap is active on a property, there are usually opportunities to trap hogs in that area again. It will be more efficient to leave traps in place on private land for longer periods of time until all hogs have been trapped. This will be possible with the addition of more trapping equipment.
The following organizations have partnered with MDC and MCHF to provide resources for 65 traps and drop gates to be used by MDC for trapping efforts on private and public land, and to fund public education efforts on the dangers of feral hogs:
Missouri Farm Bureau
Missouri Corn Growers Association
Missouri Soybean Association
Missouri Cattlemen's Association
Missouri Pork Association
National Wild Turkey Federation
Quality Deer Management Association
Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation
"Quail Forever understands the value of conserving our natural resources and we further understand the degradation that occurs when feral hogs are present," said Elsa Gallagher, Missouri State Quail Coordinator for Quail Forever. "We fully support the Department's efforts to eradicate feral hogs." Feral hogs are not wildlife and are a serious threat. Feral hogs have expanded their range in the U.S. from 17 to 38 states over the past 30 years, according to Vandeloecht. Their populations grow rapidly because feral hogs can breed any time of year and produce two litters of one to seven piglets every 12 to 15 months. Feral hogs are also known to carry diseases such as swine brucellosis, pseudorabies, trichinosis and leptospirosis, which are a threat to Missouri agriculture and human health. "Research shows that about 70 percent of the feral hog population needs to be removed yearly to keep populations of feral hogs from increasing," Vandeloecht said. "We cannot achieve that without this partnership to increase equipment availability and we won't achieve that without continued education and cooperation with the public."
For more information on feral hogs in Missouri, or to report a sighting, go online to mdc.mo.gov/feralhog. Source: MDC
Fertilizer Bills Advance in Missouri General Assembly
Legislation that MO-AG supports is off to a fast start in the Missouri General Assembly. SB655 and HB1728 both create the Fertilizer Advisory Board. SB655 was 'perfected' on the Senate floor and now moves to the House. HB1728 was approved by the House Agricultural Policy committee. SB769 and HB1729 affirms that it is the State's responsibility to regulate the use of fertilizer. HB1729 also was
approved by the House Agricultural Policy Committee. SB769 is expected to be heard by the Senate Agricultural Committee this week. One of the quickest moving pieces of legislation this session has been a resolution (HCR58) to disapprove the State Tax Commission's assessment that taxes on agricultural land be increased by 5%. HCR 58 was approved last week and became the first legislation to be Truly Agreed and Finally Passed this session. The Show Me Rural Jobs Act, HB 1927, was heard this week in the House Economic Development Committee. The bill creates economic incentives for businesses that invest in rural business concerns. Transportation funding is a top topic again this year. Last week the Joint Committee on Transportation met to hear testimony from MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna. According to McKenna the quality and funding of Missouri's infrastructure is still behind the majority of the nation. Their current operating budget covers general maintenance but does not provide enough funding to respond to a large emergency or any significant repairs. This coupled with the number of aging and weight deficient bridges means that the infrastructure is continuously deteriorating, with no funding cushion to react in the event of a major problem. To see other 'legislation of interest', CLICK HERE.
MO-AG Supports Uniform Labeling Standard
MO-AG welcomes the introduction of legislation by Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts that directs USDA to establish standards and definitions for the purposes of uniform biotech labeling and to also provide public education programs concerning the safety of biotechnology. The legislation will replace the patchwork of emotion based state laws with a uniform federal standard. Vermont is an example of a state that has passed state law requiring on-package labels of foods containing ingredients that have been genetically modified and now, as a result, families, farmers and food companies are facing un-founded fear, chaos and higher costs. See this article from 'AGProfessional' for more information on this issue.
To actually become law, MO-AG is hopeful that this legislation gains bi-partisan support. And, sugar beets might actually play an important role. There are many sugar beet growers in Michigan, which happens to be the home of the Senate Agriculture Committee's ranking Democrat, Debbie Stabenow. And, almost all of the sugar beets grown in the United States utilize modern biotechnology. However, there is virtually no biotech sugarcane. Some food companies may just decide to avoid the costs and chaos of meeting state standards by switching from beets to cane. Given that sugar beets are completely safe, this would result in a very unfortunate and unnecessary cost to beet growers. Here in Missouri, our Senator Claire McCaskill has a record of supporting biotechnology. We are hopeful Sen. McCaskill can work with her Democrat colleagues and be instrumental in securing bi-partisan legislation that can move in the Senate.
MO-AG has joined with many other groups and signed onto a letter to Chairman Roberts expressing support for the legislation. MO-AG also encourages members to consider voicing your support. Through the "Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food' website (CLICK HERE), you can urge your legislator to support this legislation. Another option is to call this number, 1 (866) 464-6333. A live operator will ask you to identify the state you are calling from so that you can be connected to the appropriate Senate office.
MO-AG Legislative Day
(left to right) MO-AG Board member Duane Simpson and MO-AG Government Affairs Chair, Katie Smith, visit with Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson
On February 16th, MO-AG leaders visited leaders at the Missouri State Capitol to discuss legislative priorities. The fertilizer bills were among the bills discussed. On February 18th, the Missouri House perfected an amended version of HB1728, which creates a board to govern the fertilizer program. MO-AG supported HB1728 when it was introduced in Committee. However, the amended version is likely not to be taken up by the Senate. We are hopeful that SB655 will be taken up and passed by the House. The House has also perfected HB1729 which is also legislation that MO-AG has supported. HB1729 preempts municipal or county ordinances regarding the labeling and use of fertilizers. For all legislation of interest, CLICK HERE.
Later on the 16th, MO-AG's Jim Russell Foundation joined with the 4H Foundation to host a banquet for Legislators. MO-AG would especially like to thank MFA and Syngenta for sponsoring the banquet. As in the past, Sen. Brian Munzlinger presented the Peter Myers Distinguished Service Awards. The award winners this year were David Baker and Dr. Robert E. "Bud" Hertzog.
McCarthy says EPA has no intention of withdrawing WOTUS
EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy testified Thursday that the EPA has no intention of withdrawing its proposed Clean Water Rule also known as the Waters of the US (WOTUS). McCarthy testified at a House Agriculture Committee hearing Thursday where she also said the EPA has "a collaborative spirit" with federal agencies associated with farming. "EPA is working every day with the USDA and the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) to see how we can advance their mission as a way to advance our own," McCarthy told committee members during questioning.
McCarthy tried to reassure committee members about the increased jurisdiction in the controversial water rule. She said it's a necessary part of the rule to explain which waters are covered and which are not. "So is there is not significant amount of time wasted asking in areas where there is no jurisdiction or where we well know that from our history there is a direct hydrologic connection that is significant enough to warrant protection," said McCarthy. "But in terms of the agriculture community, there is no added permit burden." Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz said that the EPA has used what he calls "regulatory humility." But, Pennsylvania Republican Glenn Thompson disagreed. "I haven't seen a lot of regulatory humility," said Thompson. "At least since I've been here it's more like regulatory arrogance." There is nearly unanimous opposition in agriculture to the water rule which many say is a regulatory overreach. The rule remains on temporary hold under a federal court ruling. Source: Brownfield
Steps to prepare for VFD
A veterinarian with Elanco Animal Health says it's not too early for livestock producers to get ready for new antibiotic regulations in animal feed that go into effect in 2017. Kerry Keffaber says there are four steps that can be done, on the farm, to prepare for the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). "One, make sure you have a valid client-patient relationship, check with your suppliers of these products, make sure how that system is going to work, third, training, I think we can all be better trained in all aspects of how to do it better and fourth, let's review our health program," Keffaber said. "Let's look at ways we can reduce the need for antibiotics and make sure everything we're using is appropriate and a responsible use." Keffaber says its important animal agriculture demonstrates it is doing it right. The Veterinary Feed Directive takes effect January first of next year. Source: Brownfield
The PrecisionAg Conference Tops 200 Attendees
"I'm scared to death of doing poorly with the amount of money on the line." This was a comment from one of the several farmers who attended the PrecisionAg Innovation Series Conference recently held
in St. Louis, MO. The conferenced focused on 'data' and what works and what is not working. Besides farmers, the conference was attended by data scientists and precision ag and UAV service
providers as well as ag retailers.
MO-AG President Steve Taylor addressed the crowd and stated that "I
realize data is becoming woven into what my members do and I realize the potential for data in the future." Ownership of data, reporting processes, and the role of the traditional ag retailer was discussed at the conference. Croplife Editor Paul Schrimpf commented later that growers who attended seemed to have less than 'a solid relationship with ag retailers'.
A Win For Cruz, A Loss For Ethanol
Corn country just picked a candidate who wants to put an end to one of its favorite government programs. Sen. Ted Cruz's victory in the Iowa Republican caucus, besting Donald Trump by 3.3 percent, is the first time a candidate opposed strongly by the state's ethanol industry came in first - and some observers predict that in the future, GOP presidential candidates won't be as willing to bow before King
Corn. America's Renewable Future tried to stay positive about the result. In a statement, Eric Branstad, state director for the group, said: "We feel good about our results. The vast majority of our candidates
and the vast majority of caucus-goers realize the economic, national security, and environmental benefits of the RFS. Source: Politico
Enlist Duo Remains Fully Labeled
In November 2015, EPA filed a motion asking the Ninth Circuit Court to vacate the existing Enlist Duo registration, which if granted, would have required EPA to cancel the existing product registration. EPA
stated that it needed time to review data it recently received to determine whether there is synergy between 2,4-D choline and glyphosate that could negatively impact threatened or endangered
plant species via off-target movement. The court denied EPA's motion to vacate the Enlist Duo registration. As a result of the decision, the current U.S. registration for Enlist Duo remains fully intact for all labeled uses. Source: Dow AgriSciences
After Two Years, CSB Releases Report
Following more than two years of investigation, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board released its final report and safety recommendations resulting from the fire and explosion at the West Fertilizer Company. On April 17, 2013, this tragic event took the lives of 12 emergency responders and three individuals, and caused millions of dollars in property damage. ARA appreciates the hard work and commitment of the CSB to conduct an extensive investigation and develop a comprehensive report, which is dedicated to those who lost their lives in this disaster."Agricultural retailers remain committed to the safety and security of their employees and the communities where they operate," said Daren Coppock, ARA President and CEO. "Since the accident, ARA has worked closely with the CSB and other key federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, to determine the cause of the detonation and take prudent steps to prevent future accidents."
To view a copy of the full CSB report, CLICK HERE.
Lynas to Farm Bureau: Let The Sunshine In
Biotech proponent Mark Lynas believes labeling foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients would eliminate one of the most persuasive arguments that opponents make against biotechnology. Lynas, of the Cornell Alliance for Science, said consumers would likely stop worrying about transgenic ingredients once they realized how common they are in food. "You can dispel fear by letting the sunshine in, essentially," Lynas said on Jan. 11 during the American Farm Bureau Federation's convention in Orlando, Fla. "The more transparency you have, the more comfortable people feel with it," he said. Lynas acknowledged that there's no scientific justification for GMO labels, but said they may be worth adopting to calm the current rancor. "This is a political solution to a polarized situation that needs to be resolved," he said. "You are compromising on a matter of principle but it may be politically justified."
Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity consumer research nonprofit, said he applauds the recent decision by the Campbell Soup Co. to voluntarily label products made with GMOs. However, it would be impossible for food manufacturers to disclose all the information that consumers care about - such as worker and animal welfare - unless they attach a scroll to their products, he said. Source: BIO
Environmental Respect Awards Steps Up Efforts in Response to Increased Participation
The Environmental Respect Awards has launched its 26th year of honoring stewardship among agricultural retailers with an improved online entry process and a new deadline. And as an association serving the retail agriculture market,