August 7, 2015
Missouri CCA Exam;
December 15-16, 2015
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News You Can Use
States Sue EPA over WOTUS
Attorneys general from thirteen states filed a lawsuit Monday challenging EPA's new rule defining the waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), asserting that the rule expands the scope of clean water regulations to lands that are dry much of the year and increases the federal government's authority over land use. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota. The states assert that the EPA's rule inappropriately broadens federal authority by placing a majority of water and land resources management in the hands of the federal government.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster joined in the lawsuit. "If this change becomes law, thousands of acres of privately owned land in Missouri will suddenly be subject to federal water regulation," he said in a statement. "Missouri farmers will be particularly harmed by the federal government's restrictions on how their land can be used." As an example, Koster said the rule defines tributaries to include ponds, streams that flow only briefly during or after rainstorms, and channels that are usually dry. The definition extends to lands within a 100-year floodplain -- even if they are dry 99 out of 100 years, he said. The lawsuit seeks an order declaring the rule is unlawful and prohibiting the agencies from implementing it. Without such an order, the rule takes effect within 60 days.
Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, praised Koster for challenging the rule. "If this rule stands, landowners will be subject to onerous permitting requirements and land use restrictions," Hurst said in a release. Steve Taylor, president of the Missouri Agribusiness Association, said the group strongly supports the lawsuit. "The EPA's rule ignores the critical concerns of Missouri agribusiness," he said. In response, EPA stated "In order to clearly protect the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation's water resources, the agencies developed a rule that ensures that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined, more predictably determined, and easier for businesses and industry to understand. One in three people get drinking water from streams that lacked clear protection before the Clean Water Rule." Source: Agri-Pulse
Water and Fertilizer
Join agribusiness leaders and stakeholders from Iowa, Illinois and Missouri for the Midwest Ag Retail Forum on August 5 in Fort Madison, Iowa. This half-day workshop will focus on water and water regulations that impact you directly. This includes the Des Moines water works case, EPA's redefinition of the Waters of the United States, and the latest on Missouri's regulation of water and nutrients.
MO-AG President Steve Taylor, along with his counterparts from Iowa and Illinois, will present an update on key water and nutrient issues. Washington D.C. staff from the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) will discuss federal legislative and regulatory issues impacting retailers. A tour of OCI Fertilizers production facility is scheduled for the afternoon. For a copy of the latest agenda, CLICK HERE
Lunch is included and the luncheon speaker is Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. Registration is free. Click here to register: www.aradc.org/AgRetailForum
Koster Sues USDA
Missouri filed a lawsuit aimed at forcing the federal government to push back a key agricultural deadline, a measure necessary to keep many of the state's farmers eligible for crop insurance. Attorney General Chris Koster filed the federal lawsuit against Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. "Missouri farmers rely on the availability of insurance to guard their crops against events beyond their control," Koster said in the press release. "The USDA should not punish farmers whose planting was delayed by unexpected rain and flooding by enforcing an arbitrary deadline. Millions of dollars in Missouri agriculture is at risk, and we will fight to make sure these resources are protected." Koster argues in the suit that extraordinary circumstances posed by the storms and flooding require the USDA to allow a reasonable extension of the normal grace period so that farmers are able to provide accurate acreage reports and qualify for crop insurance, according to the attorney general's press release. Source: Springfield News Leader
EPA Calling? Call Your Attorney
EPA has issued new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rules that dramatically expand the agency's authority over bodies of water across the country. Legally speaking, Clean Water Act (CWA) enforcement actions are usually civil actions, which means a person cannot be imprisoned for the alleged violation. However, CLA civil penalties can be as high as $10,000 per day under current federal law and $50,000 per day if the alleged violations of law were committed knowingly. The penalties for CWA violations are severe. You should therefore treat unexpected contact from the Corps of Engineers or EPA the same way you would treat unexpected contact from other law enforcement. If in doubt you should say nothing, refuse voluntary access to your property, and call your attorney.
Source: Farm Bureau
EPA on WOTUS
The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have worked together to resolve, through a new Clean Water Rule, the inconsistencies that existed after two Supreme Court decisions. One of our most important challenges is protecting those smaller tributaries and wetlands that are part of the vast interconnected system of some of our big rivers, like the Missouri and the Mississippi. We also rely on these smaller wetlands to provide uptake of nutrients, to moderate flow in times of flooding and to serve as important habitat for species that spawn in or rely on bodies of water. People need clean water for their health: About 117 million Americans - one in three people - get drinking water from streams that lacked clear protection before the rule.
In developing the rule, we held more than 400 meetings with stakeholders across the country and reviewed more than a million public comments. We held numerous roundtables and meetings with the agricultural, business and environmental communities in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. The agricultural community and other stakeholders provided valuable input that shaped the final rule. This input and the latest science led us to provide more clarity regarding tributaries, which are protected under the CWA. A tributary must show physical features of flowing water - a bed, bank and ordinary high-water mark - to warrant protection. The rule clarifies the definition of ditches. Ditches that are not constructed in streams and that flow only when it rains are not covered. We listened to the public and made changes to the final rule as part of our commitment to getting it right.
Source: Columbia Daily Tribune Op-Ed by Mark Hague Acting Regional Administrator for EPA Region 7 Kansas City
Governor Nixon Tours & Declares Emergency
Gov. Jay Nixon and members of the emergency management team visited Lincoln and Pike counties Saturday to meet with responders and view flood-fighting and recovery efforts. The Mississippi River is above flood stage and is continuing to rise. The Missouri State Emergency Agency (SEMA) has been directed to provide resources to Clarksville, located in Pike County.
On June 18, Gov. Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri as heavy rain, flooding and flash flooding continued to impact large portions of the state. The State Emergency Operations Center continues to assist local communities, and Gov. Nixon has been receiving updates from his emergency management team to assess the current weather situation and address local needs. Missourians who need disaster information, shelter information, and referrals are urged to call 211. The 211 service is now available throughout Missouri.
Source: KMOV St. Louis
Rain & Flooding Affecting Agriculture
West central Missouri farmer Ronnie Russell is one of many who have not been able to finish soybean planting. Russell tells Brownfield he can't remember when it's been this difficult to plant. "This has been one of the worst years I've had in trying to get things in," said Russell. "It compares a lot to '93 and the year's not up, the river's been pretty high; I do farm along the Missouri River as well, and there's always the threat yet of another flood, but I hope not."
At this point, Russell is doubtful that he can complete all his planting, but under the right conditions, he'll come close. "If I have a stretch of dry weather this week, I'm probably going to be somewhere around 85 percent complete planted and that'll be it," said Russell, "because I've some that's down along the Missouri River and there's just so much seep water down there this year that it's just going to be impossible to get it planted, I'm pretty sure."
Industry Groups Make Additions to Hazard Communications Compliance Guide
In May, the American Feed Industry Association and National Grain and Feed Association released a hazard communication compliance program guide for consideration and use by grain handling, feed, ingredient and processing facilities. The free, 45-page guidance document was developed to assist the industry in preparation for compliance with updates to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's safety data sheets (SDSs) and hazard communication compliance requirements. The Corn Refiners Association and the North American Millers Association also contributed to the guidance document.
Following the document's distribution and a subsequent webinar, AFIA and NGFA received numerous inquiries from both members and non-members on the sample SDSs. As a result, the groups made minor modifications to both the sample grain and feed SDSs and created a new SDS for non-food grain; specifically, grain that is used for industrial purposes.
The revised data sheets are now included in the guidance document. Further, a flour SDS developed by NAMA has also been included.
As a reminder, AFIA and NGFA continue to emphasize each decision related to the classification of hazards and the creation of a SDS and/or labeling of "products" that are "manufactured" at a facility must be determined independently by facility management.
The updated guidance document, as well as the sample SDSs, are available on both afia.org and ngfa.org. Source: AFIA
OSHA & Ammonium Nitrate
Federal agencies tasked with implementing President Obama's Executive Order (EO) 13650 (Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security) have produced a status update (CLICK HERE. In this update, the agencies state that guidance has been issued to Regional Administrators and that they are "developing Regional and Local emphasis programs to more effectively enforce standards for the safe storage of ammonium nitrate." MO-AG is currently working to gain more information about the guidance provided to RAs and the emphasis programs and will provide that to you as soon as it is available.
In the meantime, if you handle ammonium nitrate, MO-AG would strongly encourage you to read the federal advisory "EPA 550-F-15-001 June 2015 chemical Advisory: Safe Storage, Handling, and Management of Solid Ammonium Nitrate Prills" (for a copy of the advisory, CLICK HERE) If you are considering bringing in fertilizer inventory, particularly Ammonium Nitrate, you may want to study this document and determine if you are able to meet the conditions it sets forth. In particular, look at specific guidance such as "Use care in selecting the materials used to build storage areas, bins and cribs. Metal or concrete construction is preferred. Wood used for bins must be specially treated to prevent impregnation. 29 CFR 1910.109(i)(4)(ii)(b)."
For more general information on EO 13650, CLICK HERE.
Nurse Tank Inspection "CT" Courses Announced
If you are interested in certifying your own employees to be able to perform nurse tank inspections, then this course is for you! Facility personnel that want to learn more about the process will also find this new hands-on Asmark Institute Signature Course very beneficial. Craig Dobbins with Craig's Restoration & Repair is the lead instructor for this new course. We've been asked several times to develop a course to help ag retailers comply with the DOT regulations for inspecting/testing ammonia nurse tanks with missing or illegible ASME data plates. Six classes will be offered at the Agricenter in Bloomington, IL between July 28th and August 6th. Click here for information on the class and to register. The course is an action packed day and registration is $165 per person. Space is limited. Source: Asmark Institute
MO-AG Supports ARA Forum
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), in partnership with three state associations, will host the Midwest Ag Retail Forum on August 5th in Fort Madison, Iowa. The program will focus on water, including the Des Moines Water Works case and other Midwest water issues. ARA will also provide briefings on key federal issues for retailers. A tour of OCI Fertilizers production facility will be scheduled for the afternoon.
Cooperating state associations include the Agribusiness Association of Iowa (AAI), the Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG), and the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA). ARA encourages members to send employees who may not normally attend national industry meetings. Registration is now open. The event is free to attend.
A copy of the agenda can be found CLICK HERE. For more information, click here . To register, click here. Source: ARA
June 1st Hazard Communication Implementation Deadline Mired in Controversy
As everyone reminds us that the June 1st deadline is on us to comply with OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard of 2012, the agency has thrown out a curve ball. It seems OSHA is bent on changing some of their long-standing interpretations on when and how Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are prepared and distributed. At the heart of the confusion is the agency's change in stance on the definition of a blender and manufacturer. Most recently the State of Oregon announced to retailers that they would be considered a manufacturer and required to create and distribute a SDS on each load of fertilizer they blended. Like several times over the years, the confusion makes its way to the headquarters in Washington, DC where it normally gets corrected based on the historical interpretations. Representatives from The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) are working with OSHA headquarters to restore the situation. This issue needs to be monitored closely until the outcome is restored to what has been the standard in the past. If not restored, then retailers will need to add office staff and space in order to be able to create, print and distribute the SDS as OSHA currently indicates they want. Source: Asmark Institute
OSHA Now Considers Grain Handling Facilities as Manufacturers?
On a related topic, the grain industry has been notified of a slightly different version of the dilemma above. OSHA has taken the stance the elevator is the manufacturer of grain dust, and as such is laying out new requirements for the creation and distribution of SDS. Grain handling facilities are now considered "manufacturers" of a "hazardous chemical." The hazardous chemical is grain dust. So for grain, feed and processing industries that ship to downstream customers, you will need to provide a Safety Data Sheet. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) have released a hazard communication compliance guide that will help walk you through this process. Click here to review the guidance. Source: Asmark Institute
MO-Pat Johnson, Manager of Fertilizer-Nutrition Compliance for Crop Production Services, testifies in support of SB469. Seated next to Johnson is the sponsor of SB469, Senator Brian Munzlinger. Seated directly behind Johnson is Bill Jackson of AGRIServices of Brunswick who also testified in support of SB469. Seated next to Jackson is Ronnie Russell, Missouri Soybean Association, and next to Russell is Jay Fischer, Missouri Corn Growers Association. Both Russell and Fisher also testified in support of SB469 on behalf of their respective associations.
This week the Missouri Senate Agriculture Committee considered Senate Bill 469. SB469 changes Missouri's fertilizer law by abolishing the current fertilizer advisory council and establishing a new fertilizer control board. SB469 received support from Missouri agriculture with many witnesses testifying in support. There were no witnesses to testify in opposition to SB469.
MO-AG President Steve Taylor testified on behalf of MO-AG. In his testimony, Taylor focused on the need for a Fertilizer Control Board with authorities established by state law rather than the current 'advisory council' whose role under current state law is advisory. Under SB469, the new Board would be provided the authority to conduct 'general supervision of the administration and enforcement of all rules and regulations'. Taylor also noted how the University, at the request of others, recently proposed increasing the fertilizer fee to $1.00 per ton, a move that would increase revenues to the program to over $1.0 million per year. Taylor noted:
MO-AG supports efforts to reduce nutrient runoff and specially endorses the fertilizer stewardship program, the '4R's, and advocated to MDNR that it be included in Missouri's Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. Regarding the proposed fee increase, MO-AG recognizes the potential need for additional money to promote stewardship and MO-AG's current position is that we do not actively oppose a fee increase. However, we support SB469 because it would give Missouri farmers and the fertilizer industry, the ones who pays the fees, greater assurance of influence over how Missouri's fertilizer program operates and how fees are expended, now and in the future.
During questioning, Senators asked Taylor how SB469 could potentially change current regulations on the fertilizer industry. Taylor stated that SB469 would set penalty limits and allow for appeals of penalties. Otherwise, SB469 shifted authority for regulatory oversight from the Director to the new Fertilizer Control Board.
Bill Jackson provided committee members valuable details about how Missouri's fertilizer program needs to reform the manner in which it administers its inspection program. He provided the Committee real world examples concerning a lack of responsiveness by the fertilizer program and he explained how important timeliness is to insure deficient fertilizer is not sold and applied to farmer's fields. As manager of compliance for all of CPS, Pat Johnson drew upon her wealth of experiences in dealing with fertilizer control programs not only in Missouri but in many other states as well. In addition, before having her current position at CPS, Johnson previously worked as a control official herself.
The witnesses for Missouri Corn Growers Association and Missouri Soybean Association testified in support of SB469. They noted how SB469 would provide farmers, and the fertilizer industry, more direct control of programs and over the use of the money generated by the fees. They particularly noted the challenges presented from environmental concerns here in Missouri and in other states and how the fertilizer program needs to address those concerns (editor's note: see related stories below about Iowa's lawsuit and nutrient reduction strategy). Missouri Farm Bureau testified that they have a keen interest in ensuring the state's fertilizer program is operated in an efficient manner and stated that it is vitally important that all parties understand the importance of accurate and timely analysis of fertilizer samples.
The Dean of the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR) Dr. Tom Payne is Director of the Missouri Fertilizer Program. Dean Payne testified not in support or opposition of SB469, but for informational purposes. During questioning, some of the Senators took considerable time asking Dean Payne why more actions hasn't been taken to address the concerns. Dean Payne's testimony generally acknowledged some of the concerns expressed about the administration of the program. As Director of the program, Dean Payne told the Senators that he was committed to making the program work better for farmers and the fertilizer industry. Dean Payne also reiterated, as noted above, that the University only proposed the fee increase at the request of the industry. In addition to SB 469, Click here to see all legislation of interest.
Congress Acts on WOTUS
The House passed H.R. 1732, the "Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015" by a vote of 261-155 with 24 Democrats crossing party lines to support the bill. The Act would 1) Require the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the proposed rule defining "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS). 2) Require the agencies to engage in meaningful consultation with state and local governments and other affected stakeholders before developing a replacement rule. 3) Ensure the new rule is based on sound science. 4) Require the agencies to conduct a realistic economic impact analysis. Leaders of a Senate Subcommittee announced that they will hold a legislative hearing on S. 1140, "The Federal Water Quality Protection Act" on May 19th. This legislation aims to provide clear direction with regard to the types of water bodies that are exempt from federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. Source: TFI
Chaos at the Capitol
The Missouri Senate quit early on the final day of its session, causing the demise of numerous bills. Conceding that nothing more could be accomplished, Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard moved that the Senate adjourn around 3:15 p.m. - nearly three hours ahead of the 6 p.m. deadline. Senate Democrats stalled work to demonstrate their frustration about Republican passage of a bill limiting union powers earlier this week. In the House, Speaker John Diehl resigned, two days after a news report that he had exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with a Capitol intern. House Majority Leader Todd Richardson then was elected by colleagues to take over for Diehl and pledged to get the chamber back to its businesses of passing bills.
"Obviously, over the past weeks and months, it has been a rather difficult session at times for a variety of reasons," Richardson said. Source: Associated Press
Post Compares GMOs and Climate Change Science
There is no credible evidence that ingesting a plant that has been swiftly genetically modified in a lab has a different health outcome than ingesting a plant that has been slowly genetically modified through selective breeding. The National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the World Health Organization have concluded that GMOs are safe to eat. This scientific consensus is at least as strong as the one on human-caused climate change. Chipotle, Whole Foods and those who follow their examples are doing real social harm. They are polluting public discourse on scientific matters. They are legitimizing an approach to science that elevates Internet medical diagnosis, social media technological consensus and discredited studies in obscure journals. They are contributing to a political atmosphere in which people pick their scientific views to fit their ideologies, predispositions and obsessions. And they are undermining public trust in legitimate scientific authority, which undermines the possibility of rational public policy on a range of issues. Whatever the intention of those involved, embracing pseudoscience as the centerpiece of an advertising and branding effort is an act of corporate irresponsibility. Source: Washington Post
USDA Develops GMO-free Label
The Agriculture Department has developed the first government certification and labeling for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients. Certification would be voluntary - and companies would have to pay for it. If approved, the foods would be able to carry a "USDA Process Verified" label along with a claim that they are free of GMOs. Right now, there are no government labels that certify a food as GMO-free. Many companies use a private label developed by a nonprofit called the Non-GMO Project.
Secretary Vilsack said the USDA certification is being created through the department's Agriculture Marketing Service, which works with interested companies to certify the accuracy of the claims they are making on food packages. Companies pay the Agricultural Marketing Service to verify a claim, and if approved they can market the foods with the USDA label. The USDA label is similar to what is proposed in a GOP House bill introduced earlier this by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., which provides for USDA certification but would not make it mandatory. The bill also would override any state laws that require the labeling. The food industry, which backs Pompeo's bill, has strongly opposed individual state efforts to require labeling, saying labels would be misleading because GMOs are safe. Source: BIO
On the banks of the Missouri River in Jefferson City, Steve Taylor, President of Missouri Agribusiness Association, speaks at a press conference regarding WOTUS. In the background, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, and representatives of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, the Missouri Public Utility Alliance, the Missouri Land Improvement Contractors Association, the Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri agricultural commodity groups and many others look on as Taylor discusses what 'troubled waters' WOTUS is for all of us
At a press conference this week, MO-AG President Steve Taylor thanked Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler and Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer for their efforts to stop WOTUS (Waters of the United States), the federal rule proposed by the Corps of Engineers and EPA. Despite what the agencies say, a plain reading of the 300+ page proposed rule shows it will greatly expand the agency's jurisdiction over surface waters which will bring more regulation and litigation to Missouri, to agriculture, and to businesses everywhere. Taylor expressed MO-AG's support for HR 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act. Taylor stated that a key point of HR1732 is that it reaffirms the rights and authority of states.
While praising Hartzler, Luetkemeyer, and legislation such as HR 1732, Taylor also took this occasion to thank two Democrat leaders. Taylor stated that "here in Missouri, the concern over WOTUS is bi-partisan. Last fall, Governor Jay Nixon wrote a letter to EPA and the Corp where he expressed the same concerns which are addressed in HR 1732, primarily that the federal government is infringing on the rights and authority of states." Governor Nixon's November 14th letter stated that "Congress intended that the states bear primary responsibility to protect water resources. Unfortunately, the proposed rule could infringe upon that responsibility without extensive engagement, consultation, and guidance from the states." Governor Nixon's letter went on to say how Missouri is a model for EPA and the Corps. Specifically, the letter stated "Missouri's process in classifying its waters provides an example of the engagement process EPA and the Corps should employ in developing a revised WOTUS rule" (To see a copy of Governor Nixon's letter, CLICK HERE)
Taylor also took the occasion to thank Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill for breaking with President Obama and joining 4 other Senate Democrats in voting for a budget resolution that prevents the Corps and EPA from implementing the proposed rule. Taylor noted that he hopes that other Senators would follow Senator McCaskill's lead so that President Obama's threatened veto of any legislation regarding WOTUS could be overridden. (For the latest on WOTUS, see article below)
Being just a few miles from the family farm, the press conference became a family affair for MO-AG President Steve Taylor. Seen here are Taylor's mom and dad, Jerry and Margaret Taylor, along with daughter Madison, and Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer
Taylor concluded his remarks by making the issue personal. Taylor stated, "Today, we are in Callaway County where my family farms just a few miles from here. I'm happy that some of my family are here with us today. Growing up on the farm, I recall how we cared about the environment. Back in the 1970s, Mom and Dad received the "Conservationist of the Year" award for building waterways, sediment impoundments, minimized tillage to prevent erosion and sedimentation and to improve water quality. They did it by working with their 'County' Soil and Water District and by using 'State' parks and soils sales tax funding. Working with Counties, working with States, and other federal agencies in a 'Voluntary' manner, farmers and ranchers have made and are making tremendous progress protecting the environment. We don't need the EPA and Corp's proposed rule 'mucking that up'.
Agriculture Wins at the Missouri Supreme Court
MO-AG Thanks A.G. Chris Koster
Back in the May 2011 edition of the MO-AG Minute, MO-AG President Steve Taylor praised legislation that put parameters upon nuisance lawsuits stating, "Another big win for Missouri agriculture was the passing of SB187 which puts reasonable limits on out of control lawsuits. Out-of-state lawyers had made their intentions well known that Missouri agriculture was in their crosshairs and they saw us as an easy target given our lax laws governing nuisance lawsuits. When Governor Nixon signed SB187 into law, major fixes were put into place that allows Missouri's agricultural economy to prosper while still allowing every citizen's right to their day in court."
SB187 (now signed into law and contained within RSMo 537.296) was important legislation that MO-AG supported in 2011. In 2012, MO-AG presented Sen Brad Lager and Rep Casey Guernsey with its 'Advocate for Agribusiness' award in part for passing SB187 in 2011. Unfortunately, but not totally unexpected, nuisance lawsuit attorneys attacked this new important law. The Speer Law Firm in Kansas City, known for specializing in nuisance lawsuits against livestock agriculture, took a case regarding Bohr Farms LLC, which operates a production facility capable of raising more than 4,000 hogs owned by Cargill Pork LLC. The lawsuit alleged that emissions from the facility constituted a nuisance that substantially impairs the neighbors' use and quiet enjoyment of their property. They attacked SB187 by alleging SB187 (RSMo 537.296) authorized an unconstitutional private taking under the state constitution.
The circuit court ruled in favor of the hog operations and against Speer. The case was appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court. The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's ruling.
MO-AG President Steve Taylor commented how he was happy to see that the opinion was unanimous and that there were no dissenting opinions. He stated that he thought it was very helpful to have the Attorney General's office weigh in and file an amicus brief in the case. "As Attorney General, Chris Koster is Missouri's attorney. The support of the AG's office on an issue of constitutionality is crucial." Taylor continued, "The fact that AG Koster weighed in on this case was just one of the reasons MO-AG presented Chris Koster with the MO-AG "Advocate for Agribusiness award at our December 2014 Conference."
MO-AG Chairman Duane Simpson (left) presents the MO-AG Advocate for Agribusiness Award to Attorney General Chris Koster at the 2014 MO-AG Convention
Status of WOTUS
A bill to bar the EPA from making changes to federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction, was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee April 15. The Regulatory Integrity Protection Act (H.R. 1732) would force the agencies to withdraw a rule clarifying which waters are considered "waters of the U.S. (WOTUS)" Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Bob Gibbs (D-Ohio), said that the bill was another chance to stop a rulemaking he said is "scaring the hell out of people." Gibbs said. "This bill gives the agencies and their state partners and stakeholders the opportunity to work together and develop a rule that was intended to create clarity." An amendment to include in the bill's language "continued recognition of Federal deference to State primacy in the development of water law," offered by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), was approved by a voice vote, though Huffman voted against the bill. In other House action to stop the implementation of the water rule, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water approved a FY2016 spending bill with a policy rider to bar changes to jurisdiction.
In the Senate, an amendment by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) would ensure that the EPA use scientific standards and retain exemptions for certain agricultural. Don Parrish, of the American Farm Bureau Federation, termed the Stabenow amendment as "meaningless" and an attempt by supporters of the administration's rulemaking to marginalize the real concerns of farmers. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) offered an amendment, which passed 59-40, that would limit EPA jurisdiction over certain waters. Both amendments called upon the agencies to acknowledge the need to maintain existing agriculture exemptions and instructed appropriators to include in any funding bill a directive for the agencies to "establish bright lines for Federal jurisdiction, and to create clear and unambiguous exemptions" for waters deemed outside the scope of the waters of the U.S. rule. The votes in support of the amendments are largely symbolic as they attach to the non-binding Senate budget resolution, but they still can be construed as a measure of how lawmakers plan to respond once the rule is issued in final form. Five Democrats-Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.)-joined 53 Republicans and independent Sen. Angus King (Maine) in voting for the Barrasso amendment.
"The Republicans don't trust the administration to address the concerns and remain unpersuaded by their reassurances," according to Susan Bodine, chief counsel for the Environment and Public Works Committee. "We don't see how they address the concerns without reproposing the rule. The fact that they aren't prepared to repropose the rule tells us they won't address the concerns," Bodine said. Laura Atcheson, majority counsel to the Environment and Public Works Committee, said Republicans are getting ready to introduce a bill soon that is being crafted with the assistance of some Democratic senators. Unlike the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act (H.R. 1732), the upcoming Senate bill would give instructions to the agencies on how to rewrite the bill. "We don't want to send it back to them and have them do the same thing again," Atcheson said. Source: BNA
Ag Aviators Don't See Drones Applying Pesticides
It will be many years before the agriculture industry applies pesticides with remotely piloted drones instead of crop dusting airplanes, said Andrew Moore, executive director of the National Agricultural Aviation Association. He stated that a number of logistical obstacles, as well as regulatory uncertainties, will make it difficult if not impossible for pesticide applicators to use drones. "I think we're decades away," Moore said.
Though they haven't caught on in the U.S. yet, pesticide applicator drones are used widely in Japan. There, 90 percent of pesticides are applied via drones, mainly using a compact type ofdrone with a four-gallon capacity and a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour, according to data Moore cited. This works well in a country where the average size of a farm is less than four acres, he said. But in the U.S., where the average farm is more than 100 times larger, drones with larger capacity are needed. Currently, most drones with payloads of the size that would be adequate for U.S. farms are cost prohibitive in agricultural settings, according to Moore. "I think it will be used more from a crop sensing standpoint and an aerial imaging standpoint than a [pesticide] application standpoint," he said.
Overall, Moore said his organization would like to see the FAA regulate agricultural drones the same way, or at least similarly, to how it regulates piloted pesticide aerial applicators.
Without this high regulatory bar, Moore predicted that using drones to apply pesticides will pose too much of a financial risk to applicators and farmers, who could both be hit with
multi-million dollar lawsuits in the event of a collision with aircraft or other types of accidents. "It's going to take a long time before you're ever going to see something of the size and scope and the legal statutory framework that's going to allow for drone applications," he said. Source: BNA
MO-AG Applauds Passage of Legislation
Commercial pesticide applicators will feel the burden of regulations become slightly lighter now that Governor Jay Nixon has signed Senate Bill 12 into law. SB12 streamlines the process by which certified commercial applicators must document evidence of financial responsibility. The new processes will save applicators time and money while still providing the needed financial safe-guards. In this instance, MO-AG joined with the regulating agency, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, to support this legislation and to see it signed into law. Other bills in the General Assembly also contain this language, but, SB12 is the first to cross the finish line and obtain the Governor's signature.
As the 'agriculture omnibus' bill, SB12 contain several other provisions. It provides a technical fix concerning transfer of agricultural land while maintaining the limit of foreign ownership to one percent. The one percent threshold allows flexibility for the possibility for economic development in rural Missouri. SB12 also adds livestock to the current milk exemption for weight limitations on highways and allows weight limitations to be exceeded by as much as 10% on highways for hauling grain and grain co-products during harvest. It also allows beef producers to vote on a beef checkoff.
SB12 was sponsored by Senator Brian Munzlinger. MO-AG also supported the Dairy Bill (HB259) which was also signed into law last week by Governor Nixon. HB259 was sponsored by Rep. Bill Reiboldt. MO-AG thanks Senator Munzlinger and Rep. Reiboldt for their leadership. More information about SB12 and HB259 is in the article below.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, REFER TO THE ADVOCACY PAGE CLICK HERE.