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Newsletter
Volume 115
June 3, 2013
2013 PAT Schedule Announced!
Check out the new schedule at the end of this newsletter! Professional Applicator Training (PAT) will be offered at 32 locations around the U.S. this year in conjunction with the Agricultural Retailers Association. Scheduled dates and locations for all the Asmark Institute Signature training courses can be found at the end of this newsletter.
Retailers Live! Tour
Industry came together on May 6-10th to showcase a diverse range of agribusiness for the Retailers Live! Tour. The tour was sponsored by the Asmark Institute and made possible by a host of very willing cooperators. The Retailers Live! Tour was organized for staff members of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), CropLife America (CLA) and the National Ag Aviation Association (NAAA). Eighteen staff members from the Washington, DC area participated in the week-long tour that started at Hintzsche Fertilizer in Kirkland, IL and ended at Tennessee Farmers Cooperative in LaVergne, TN. The tour included stops at 29 different locations where the participants were able to witness the wide range of "hats" a retailer must wear to successfully operate a retail farm center. Technology was highlighted throughout the week and a special "ride & drive" equipment demonstration was organized in Bloomington, IL for the participants. The tour was designed to provide information and experience into the real world of the retail farm center with the goal of better arming the participants with a better overall understanding of the industry. We extend our sincere appreciation to the participating companies that helped make the tour possible and also the participants for taking a week out of their busy schedules to attend the tour.
TFI and ARA Announce Plan to Develop Fertilizer Code of Practice
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) is partnering with the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) to develop a Fertilizer Code of Practice for agricultural retailers. Through this member-led initiative, retailers will be provided with tools based on existing regulation to ensure that fertilizers are safely handled and stored. The initiative will also include third-party inspections to ensure observance of the established guidelines. Development of the system will begin over the summer months of 2013. The proposed structure envisions an over-arching umbrella organization for governance and to ensure consistency in guidelines and inspection/audit procedures. Suppliers would register with the system and encourage their brokers and distributors to do so, which would flow through the system to dealers. It has been recommended that unmanned storage sites and potentially farmer-owned storage be included as well. Dealers could utilize the system to look up their suppliers or wholesalers to see if they are registered. The code of practice initiative came as a result of discussions between ARA staff and association members, most recently at a meeting on May 28th of interested parties in Washington, D.C. More than 50 people representing producers, retailers, wholesalers, transportation companies, state associations and companies that assist retailers in regulatory compliance were in attendance. The plan is subject to revision as the process develops.
Retailers Live! Tour
Tour Participants:
Donnie Taylor, ARA
Jeff Sands, ARA
Michael Kennedy, ARA
David McKnight, ARA
Bryna Hautau, ARA
Wade Foster, TFI
Melinda Geisler, TFI
Laura Kubitz, TFI
Angela Davis-Haines, OABA
Jay Vroom, CLA
Sarah MAcedo, CLA
Amanda Griesser, CLA
Dustin Bednarz, CLA
Sarah McLallen, CLA
Andrew Moore, NAAA
Jay Calleja, NAAA
Danna Kelemen, NAAA
Matthew Grassi, Meister
Participating Companies:
AGCO & Altorfer Equipment
Agri-Gro Fertilizer - Hartford, KY
Brandt Agronomy - Lexington, IL
Burroughs Ag Services - Toluca, IL
CaseIH & Jenner Sales
Ceres Solutions - Perrysville, IN
Ceres Solutions - Vincennes, IN
Crop Production Services - Allensville, KY
Crop Production Services - Clarksville, TN
Crop Production Services - Decker, IN
Crop Production Services - Hoopeston, IL
Daylight Farm Supply - Evansville, IN
Effingham Equity - Tuscola, IL
Elburn Cooperative - Maple Park, IL
Helena Chemical Company - Owensboro, KY
Heritage FS - Gibson City, IL
Hintzsche Fertilizer - Kirkland, IL
Jimmy Sanders, Inc. - Hartford, KY
John Deere & Martin Brothers Equipment
Layco / Yargus Manufacturing - Marshall, IL
Montgomery Farmers Cooperative - Clarksville, TN
Needham Ag Technologies - Calhoun, KY
Northern Partners Cooperative - Ottawa,
Posey County Cooperative - Haubstadt, IN
Reed's Fly-On Farming - Mattoon, IL
Schertz Aerial Service - Hudson, IL
Southern States Cooperative - Russellville, KY
Tennessee Farmers Cooperative - LaVergne, TN
United Prairie - Tolono, IL
ACI and WABA Visit the Asmark Institute
Asmark Institute recently hosted visits from the Agribusiness Council of Indiana (ACI) and Wisconsin Agri-Business Association (WABA). We would like to thank Jayne McElwain and Beth Bechdol, President of ACI, and Tom Bressner, Executive Director of WABA, for taking the time to come and get a behind the scenes look and orientation of the Asmark Institute services. It is through our affiliation with the state agribusiness associations and in cooperation with the national organizations and government agencies, we believe the Institute is best able to provide the resources necessary to effectively support and lift those it serves and advance the agricultural industry.
CVSA's Roadcheck 2013 Planned for June 4-6th
Mark your June calendars. The CVSA Roadcheck 2013 is right around the corner. The annual inspection event, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's 72-hour safety blitz, is scheduled for June 4-6th. CVSA sponsors Roadcheck with participation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (Mexico). Approximately 14 trucks or buses are inspected every minute from Canada to Mexico during Roadcheck.
Personalized Fit Test Certificates - Now Online!
Have an employee that needs an updated Fit Test? We are pleased to announce that personalized Fit Test Certificates are available online - instantly for the employees at your facility. If you have employees that are up for renewal on their Fit Tests, go to the Personalized Forms section of our website and select Fit Test Form. Select an employee from the list of your current employees and a personalized form will be generated. We hope the new personalized certificate feature helps save you time and reduce your costs, as the facility and employee information have already been pre-populated on each form. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Jessica at jessica@asmark.org or 270-926-4600, Extension 229.
Signal Words: Not to be Confused
Since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised their Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), we are beginning to see changes from chemical manufacturers appearing on both labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). The GHS is an international approach to hazard communication, providing agreed criteria for the classification of chemical hazards and a standardized approach to label elements and SDS.
It is important that retailers who use federally regulated pesticides note that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet moved to amend its pesticide labeling regulations under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to align with the GHS. The differences between EPA's current requirements and the GHS can be confusing when it comes to signal words.
For example, FIFRA pesticide product labels may contain the following signal words: "Danger Poison," "Warning" or "Caution" depending on the toxicity level of the product and "Danger" for a product that may be a potential skin or eye irritant. The GHS uses only two signal words, "Danger" and "Warning." "Danger" is for the more severe hazard categories.
To illustrate the possible confusion, the label of a chemical that has an oral LD50 of 550 mg/kg bears the signal word "Caution" under current FIFRA labeling practices, but would require the signal word "Warning" under the GHS. For pesticide products, FIFRA labels approved by EPA pre-empt OSHA's label requirements.
For now, users of pesticide products need to become familiar with both systems, at least until the agencies' requirements are harmonized. If you find yourself confused by conflicting language, check the SDS because EPA has recommended that registrants include the FIFRA label information and a brief explanation for any differences between that information and the SDS information in Section 15 (Regulatory Information) of the SDS.
Reuters News Service Publishes Map of U.S. Ammonium Nitrate Facilities
Reuters news service has posted a map on their website showing locations in the U.S. where ammonium nitrate (AN) is stored. The information was posted based on Tier II reports submitted in 2012 and is posted publicly based on the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA). Several agricultural businesses and associations have contacted Reuters regarding reportedly erroneous information contained in their posting. Posting this type of information for the public and potential use by terrorists is blatantly irresponsible. We encourage retailers to view the map and make sure the information reported is accurate. You can click here to send an email to Reuters if the information is not accurate to remove your facility information. Click here to view the map. Click here to view the entire news story.
Center for Effective Government Publishes Map of U.S. Ammonia Releases
Just prior to the Reuters article, we became aware of the Center for Effective Government's release of an article summarizing anhydrous ammonia accidents, nationwide along with providing an interactive map identifying facilities handling anhydrous ammonia and the total accidents per facility. The Center lists as one of its core mission statements to "Protect core governing processes from undue influence by special interests, through analysis, advocacy and strategic partnerships, inside and outside of Washington. We particularly focus on effective implementation of critical public protections, improvements in public spending transparency and reforms that enhance government performance and public oversight of governance practices." We encourage retailers to view the map and make sure the information reported is accurate. Again, posting this type of information for the public and potential use by terrorists is blatantly irresponsible. Click here to access the map and review your information.
Feds vs. Feds Over Texas Blast
At a time when our industry needs answers, the gridlock normally reserved for inside the beltway has been extended to the tragedy in West, TX. Reportedly, Federal agents representing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), along with the Texas State Fire Marshal, have effectively barred the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), a federal safety panel, from the site of the Texas fertilizer blast that killed 15 people and injured about 200 others. A criminal investigation "comes with certain sensitivities and you need to keep it to law enforcement only," Robert Champion, ATF special agent in charge of the investigation told one newspaper. He also said the decision to bar the CSB from the site was made by the State Fire Marshal's Office. Fire Marshal's Office spokeswoman Rachel Moreno said the CSB was kept out because criminal investigators were executing search warrants. "We have to protect evidence," she told the American-Statesman. "We need to have one report, one set of interviews; it all has to be clear cut." On May 16th, representatives of the State Fire Marshal's Office announced that the joint criminal investigation left the cause of a fire precipitating the blast as "undetermined." Investigators narrowed the number of possible causes to three: a problem with one of the plant's electrical systems, a battery-powered golf cart and a criminal act. However, they could not say with certainty what caused the fire that ignited stored ammonium nitrate, said Kelly Kistner, the Assistant State Fire Marshal.
Hazardous Materials Safety Permits Renewal Process - Now 60 Days
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) advised The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) that hazardous materials shippers who require a DOT safety permit to transport hazardous materials can now apply for renewal of permits 60-days prior to expiration. Until now, permits could not be renewed more than 30-days in advance. TFI has been working with FMCSA on improvements to the safety permit program and expect additional changes after a complete review by the agency.
New NTIP System Helps Ensure Compliance
DOT requires any nurse tank with a missing or illegible data plate to undergo a series of three tests/inspections every five years - or be taken out of service immediately. Retention of the final documentation is essential if DOT comes knocking. Once the official Nurse Tank Inspection Report has been completed and signed by both parties, the reports can be electronically uploaded by using the EZ-Update feature located on our homepage. Once uploaded, the documents will be stored electronically for retention and retrieval in the future when DOT performs your audit. EZ-Update is easy to use - a simple click on the link and you are prompted to attach an electronic copy of the inspection form to be uploaded. Once submitted, the PDF report will be reviewed for completeness by an Asmark Institute employee and attached to the corresponding nurse tank unit in Vehicle Maintenance Central. Just click on the EZ-Update link and you will be able to submit an electronic copy of the completed nurse tank inspection forms in one easy to use and convenient location. If uploading a scanned copy of the signed, official inspection report isn't an option for your location, they can be mailed to the Asmark Institute - please mark them "Attention: NTIP." Contact Nick Clements at 270-926-4600 Ext 212 or email nick.clements@asmark.org if you have questions or need more information.
New NTIP System
West Fertilizer Report Details Unfortunate Sequence Events
How the West Fertilizer fire began still isn't known and may never be. The investigation has unveiled the detailed sequence of a catastrophe: Heat, pressure and shockwave made dual explosions, just milliseconds apart. Something started a blaze in the seed room of the company's fertilizer and seed building, a 13,000-square-foot structure by the spur rail on the northeast side of town. It could have been an old golf cart stored there, or a problem with the warehouse's electrical wiring or arson. The evidence, investigators from the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said Thursday, is insufficient to prove any of them. Still, they reconstructed most of what happened and laid it out in public for the first time:
The seed room was on the building's north end, blown to oblivion along with most of the rest of the company's assets. The crater, 93 feet across and 10 feet deep, marks its location. "Parked inside the seed room was an old golf cart," West Mayor Tommy Muska said, having seen workers driving it many times. It was battery-operated, recharged by plugging it into an outlet. Nearby, in the same building, were wooden bins that held about 50 tons of ammonium-nitrate fertilizer. Outside, a rail car held an additional 100 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer unaffected by the explosion.
For 22 minutes, the fire burned - through the time when volunteer firefighters got the call, responded, asked for backup and started preparing for what might come. The fire kept getting hotter, raising the temperature of some of the ammonium nitrate - that is, shifting the chemical toward instability and increasing the likelihood that it would explode if detonated by a shockwave. That first detonation set off another - thousandths of a second later, so fast that witnesses couldn't tell them apart. The U.S. Geological Survey's earthquake-detecting seismograph west of town at Lake Whitney registered two distinct impacts. All told, only about 28 to 34 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded, but an additional 20 to 30 tons in the building didn't explode and neither did the ammonium nitrate in the rail car. The amount that did detonate had the explosive power of 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of TNT. It flung bits of buildings and vehicles up to 2.5 miles, though most of the debris fell within 3,000 feet, slightly more than a half-mile.
The search for answers on the ground took a month of combing through 14 to 15 acres, even sifting through hundreds of thousands of pounds of corn and milo by hand. It turned up an enormous amount of evidence, but not enough to prove any specific cause to a scientific certainty which leaves open three possibilities. One was the battery-powered golf cart. Over the past 15 years, tens of thousands of golf carts have been recalled because of fire risks, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says. Another possibility was an electrical system fire. Investigators exonerated the heavy-duty, 480-volt system in the warehouse that ran the big equipment. But the separate conventional 120-volt system couldn't be ruled out, so it remains a possibility. The third was arson.
TFI Donates to West, Texas Relief Fund
On May 1st, the City Council of West, Texas took action and designated the West, Texas Disaster Relief Efforts Fund as the recommended recipient for all charitable donations made for the relief efforts in West, Texas. To date, the fund has received more than $500,000. The funds are housed at the Waco Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity. All donations will go directly to those impacted by the tragedy, as The Waco Foundation is donating in-kind services and financial resources to the West Texas Fund. The Fertilizer Institute, on behalf of its members, has made a $100,000 contribution to the fund.
MDA Pursues Independent Anhydrous Ammonia Inspector Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) was directed by the 2011 Legislature to write rules and create a certification program certifying independent inspectors to inspect anhydrous ammonia facilities. These independent inspectors would be responsible for assessing a facility's compliance with the state of Minnesota's anhydrous ammonia laws and rules. The intent of such assessments is to help facilities comply with applicable regulations, improve operational safety and ultimately reduce the noncompliance issues found by MDA during its regulatory inspections that result in enforcement action. The findings that the independent inspectors provide to the facilities will provide the facility with an important, accurate and real-time compliance assessment. The information can show facilities the operational areas that are out of compliance and enable them to make needed repairs. The goal of this program is to create an inspection process that is regulatory based, but available on a contract basis between the facility and the independent inspector who is certified by the MDA. These inspectors will not be employees of the MDA and will not have authority through the MDA to enforce rules and laws or assess penalties. The MDA will receive notice when a facility has passed an inspection. The MDA will continue to inspect anhydrous ammonia facilities to determine compliance. The MDA expects that facilities that have previously passed an independent inspection will have fewer violations during MDA inspections and necessitate less MDA enforcement response. This program will be the first of its kind in the nation, no other state currently certifies independent anhydrous ammonia facility inspectors.
DOT Proposal Allows State and Federal Officers to Share Your Medical Status
DOT recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to allow state and federal enforcement officials to easily share and view the most current information about a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver's medical certification status. The proposed rule would require certified medical examiners performing physical examinations on CMV drivers to use a newly developed Medical Examination Report (MER) form, and to use a new form for the medical examiner's certificate (MEC). In addition, the Certified Medical Examiners would be required to report results of all completed commercial drivers' physical examinations (including the results of examinations where the driver was found not to be qualified) to FMCSA by close of business on the day of the examination using the new form. DOT would in turn make the MEC information for interstate commercial driver's license (CDL) holders available to the State driver licensing agencies as part of the integration of the medical certification and CDL issuance and renewal process. This proposal is a follow-on rule to the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners published on April 20, 2012 and the Medical Certification Requirements as part of the CDL rule published on December 1, 2008. Comments on the proposed rule should be submitted by July 9, 2013. Click here to review the proposed regulation.
DriftWatch Specialty Crops Registry Goes National
Originated by Purdue University's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE), the now independent non-profit FieldWatch entity has taken DriftWatch national. The online DriftWatch registry allows crop producers to identify and map the location of their sensitive crops such as tomatoes, fruit trees, grapes, vegetables and organic crops, providing a stewardship resource for applicators to consult before spraying. To learn more about FieldWatch and to gain access to the DriftWatch registry, go to www.fieldwatch.com.
Equipment Dealership Consolidation Continues at Steady Pace
It's safe to say the movement toward fewer ownership groups in the past year has not slowed. What's clear about ag equipment dealership consolidation is that the big are tending to get bigger. The most recognizable and aggressive example of this is Titan Machinery. A year ago, Case IH's largest dealer group reported 96 total locations that included 62 ag equipment and 34 construction equipment stores. Currently, Titan owns and operates 120 total equipment locations, 78 of which focus on farm machinery, in 11 states and Europe. Overall, an examination of the biggest of the big shows their number of store locations are indeed growing, though the average number of stores owned by each of the big dealers hasn't varied significantly from one year ago. Comparing the numbers since 2009, the growth of the really big dealers represents a significant trend and a reshaping of ag equipment distribution channels.
New OSHA Initiative: Protecting Temporary Workers
OSHA has announced an initiative to further protect temporary employees from workplace hazards. OSHA is directing field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Inspectors will use a newly created code in their information system to denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations. Additionally, they will assess whether temporary workers received required training in a language and vocabulary they could understand. According to OSHA, the memo, which can be viewed at http://s.dol.gov/ZM, underscores the duty of employers to protect all workers from hazards.
Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Modern Agriculture
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in the case of Bowman vs. Monsanto. The Supreme Court recognizes the importance of upholding intellectual property rights for the development of valuable tools for modern agriculture. The Supreme Court decision was authored by Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote, "In the case at hand, Bowman planted Monsanto's patented soybeans solely to make and market replicas of them, thus depriving the company of the reward patent law provides for the sale of each article. Patent exhaustion provides no haven for that conduct. We accordingly affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit." In the case, Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman was sued by Monsanto Company for purchasing Monsanto-patented soybeans from a commodity grain elevator, planting the seeds, then spraying the field with glyphosate.
Don't Let Demands for Fertilizer Regulation Overlook Unique Soil Issues
As the catastrophic fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas continues to stir debate about additional regulation, one factor that hasn't been discussed as much is the soil of Central Texas and its unique requirements that dictate the use of ammonium nitrate. Different soils in different parts of the country have historically driven the market for five basic forms of nitrogen fertilizer. Each type of fertilizer has different uses and risks - some work better on particular crops and soils than others.
According to Mark L. McFarland, a soil fertility specialist at Texas A&M University, there are five different agricultural fertilizers widely used in Texas. Ammonium nitrate was stored in large quantities at a depot in West that exploded last month, killing at least 14 people and injuring hundreds more. The other types used in the state include anhydrous ammonia, urea, ammonium sulfate and a liquid solution of urea ammonium nitrate solution, often called UAN.
Much of the soil in Central Texas, where many farmers got their fertilizer from the West plant, is alkaline. That attribute is related to the large amount of calcium carbonate - the chief component of limestone - in the region's geology. Alkaline soils exacerbate the problem of fertilizer evaporation. Farmers tilling alkaline face decreased returns from using liquid fertilizer. "Dry, straight ammonium nitrate has an extremely low volatility risk on any soil," McFarland said, referring to the fertilizer's low evaporation rates. In addition, ammonium nitrate has high levels of nitrogen, which along with ammonia is critical for plant growth and is ideal for growing grain.
While anhydrous ammonia, a gas, is the cheapest and easiest fertilizer to produce, it must be injected into soil using specialized equipment, or else much of the benefit is lost. The other four types of fertilizer are deployed in either liquid or powder form. Urea is a good source of nitrogen, but its nutrients evaporate at a high rate. It poses a moderate combustion risk, depending greatly on how it's stored.
Holding these nutrients in a liquid solution almost eliminates the risk of a catastrophic explosion, but that safety comes with a trade-off. UAN volatilizes faster than pure ammonium nitrate. Improperly applied, farmers lose some of the benefit of the fertilizer.
The fertilizer that poses the smallest risk of evaporation, and is the easiest to apply, also happens to be the security-sensitive ammonium nitrate. In recent years, ammonium nitrate has become harder for farmers to get, partially as a result of the safety and security practices mandated by the federal government after the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11.
2013 Asmark Institute, Inc. This information is believed to be reliable by the Asmark Institute, however, because of constantly changing government regulations, interpretations and applicability or the possibility of human, mechanical or computer error, the Asmark Institute does not guarantee the information as suitable for any particular purpose.
2013 PAT Schedule Announced!
Check out the new schedule at the end of this newsletter! Professional Applicator Training (PAT) will be offered at 32 locations around the U.S. this year in conjunction with the Agricultural Retailers Association. Scheduled dates and locations for all the Asmark Institute Signature training courses can be found at the end of this newsletter.
Retailers Live! Tour
Industry came together on May 6-10th to showcase a diverse range of agribusiness for the Retailers Live! Tour. The tour was sponsored by the Asmark Institute and made possible by a host of very willing cooperators. The Retailers Live! Tour was organized for staff members of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), CropLife America (CLA) and the National Ag Aviation Association (NAAA). Eighteen staff members from the Washington, DC area participated in the week-long tour that started at Hintzsche Fertilizer in Kirkland, IL and ended at Tennessee Farmers Cooperative in LaVergne, TN. The tour included stops at 29 different locations where the participants were able to witness the wide range of "hats" a retailer must wear to successfully operate a retail farm center. Technology was highlighted throughout the week and a special "ride & drive" equipment demonstration was organized in Bloomington, IL for the participants. The tour was designed to provide information and experience into the real world of the retail farm center with the goal of better arming the participants with a better overall understanding of the industry. We extend our sincere appreciation to the participating companies that helped make the tour possible and also the participants for taking a week out of their busy schedules to attend the tour.
TFI and ARA Announce Plan to Develop Fertilizer Code of Practice
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) is partnering with the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) to develop a Fertilizer Code of Practice for agricultural retailers. Through this member-led initiative, retailers will be provided with tools based on existing regulation to ensure that fertilizers are safely handled and stored. The initiative will also include third-party inspections to ensure observance of the established guidelines. Development of the system will begin over the summer months of 2013. The proposed structure envisions an over-arching umbrella organization for governance and to ensure consistency in guidelines and inspection/audit procedures. Suppliers would register with the system and encourage their brokers and distributors to do so, which would flow through the system to dealers. It has been recommended that unmanned storage sites and potentially farmer-owned storage be included as well. Dealers could utilize the system to look up their suppliers or wholesalers to see if they are registered. The code of practice initiative came as a result of discussions between ARA staff and association members, most recently at a meeting on May 28th of interested parties in Washington, D.C. More than 50 people representing producers, retailers, wholesalers, transportation companies, state associations and companies that assist retailers in regulatory compliance were in attendance. The plan is subject to revision as the process develops.
Retailers Live! Tour
Tour Participants:
Donnie Taylor, ARA
Jeff Sands, ARA
Michael Kennedy, ARA
David McKnight, ARA
Bryna Hautau, ARA
Wade Foster, TFI
Melinda Geisler, TFI
Laura Kubitz, TFI
Angela Davis-Haines, OABA
Jay Vroom, CLA
Sarah MAcedo, CLA
Amanda Griesser, CLA
Dustin Bednarz, CLA
Sarah McLallen, CLA
Andrew Moore, NAAA
Jay Calleja, NAAA
Danna Kelemen, NAAA
Matthew Grassi, Meister
Participating Companies:
AGCO & Altorfer Equipment
Agri-Gro Fertilizer - Hartford, KY
Brandt Agronomy - Lexington, IL
Burroughs Ag Services - Toluca, IL
CaseIH & Jenner Sales
Ceres Solutions - Perrysville, IN
Ceres Solutions - Vincennes, IN
Crop Production Services - Allensville, KY
Crop Production Services - Clarksville, TN
Crop Production Services - Decker, IN
Crop Production Services - Hoopeston, IL
Daylight Farm Supply - Evansville, IN
Effingham Equity - Tuscola, IL
Elburn Cooperative - Maple Park, IL
Helena Chemical Company - Owensboro, KY
Heritage FS - Gibson City, IL
Hintzsche Fertilizer - Kirkland, IL
Jimmy Sanders, Inc. - Hartford, KY
John Deere & Martin Brothers Equipment
Layco / Yargus Manufacturing - Marshall, IL
Montgomery Farmers Cooperative - Clarksville, TN
Needham Ag Technologies - Calhoun, KY
Northern Partners Cooperative - Ottawa,
Posey County Cooperative - Haubstadt, IN
Reed's Fly-On Farming - Mattoon, IL
Schertz Aerial Service - Hudson, IL
Southern States Cooperative - Russellville, KY
Tennessee Farmers Cooperative - LaVergne, TN
United Prairie - Tolono, IL
ACI and WABA Visit the Asmark Institute
Asmark Institute recently hosted visits from the Agribusiness Council of Indiana (ACI) and Wisconsin Agri-Business Association (WABA). We would like to thank Jayne McElwain and Beth Bechdol, President of ACI, and Tom Bressner, Executive Director of WABA, for taking the time to come and get a behind the scenes look and orientation of the Asmark Institute services. It is through our affiliation with the state agribusiness associations and in cooperation with the national organizations and government agencies, we believe the Institute is best able to provide the resources necessary to effectively support and lift those it serves and advance the agricultural industry.
CVSA's Roadcheck 2013 Planned for June 4-6th
Mark your June calendars. The CVSA Roadcheck 2013 is right around the corner. The annual inspection event, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's 72-hour safety blitz, is scheduled for June 4-6th. CVSA sponsors Roadcheck with participation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (Mexico). Approximately 14 trucks or buses are inspected every minute from Canada to Mexico during Roadcheck.
Personalized Fit Test Certificates - Now Online!
Have an employee that needs an updated Fit Test? We are pleased to announce that personalized Fit Test Certificates are available online - instantly for the employees at your facility. If you have employees that are up for renewal on their Fit Tests, go to the Personalized Forms section of our website and select Fit Test Form. Select an employee from the list of your current employees and a personalized form will be generated. We hope the new personalized certificate feature helps save you time and reduce your costs, as the facility and employee information have already been pre-populated on each form. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Jessica at jessica@asmark.org or 270-926-4600, Extension 229.
Signal Words: Not to be Confused
Since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised their Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), we are beginning to see changes from chemical manufacturers appearing on both labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). The GHS is an international approach to hazard communication, providing agreed criteria for the classification of chemical hazards and a standardized approach to label elements and SDS.
It is important that retailers who use federally regulated pesticides note that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet moved to amend its pesticide labeling regulations under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to align with the GHS. The differences between EPA's current requirements and the GHS can be confusing when it comes to signal words.
For example, FIFRA pesticide product labels may contain the following signal words: "Danger Poison," "Warning" or "Caution" depending on the toxicity level of the product and "Danger" for a product that may be a potential skin or eye irritant. The GHS uses only two signal words, "Danger" and "Warning." "Danger" is for the more severe hazard categories.
To illustrate the possible confusion, the label of a chemical that has an oral LD50 of 550 mg/kg bears the signal word "Caution" under current FIFRA labeling practices, but would require the signal word "Warning" under the GHS. For pesticide products, FIFRA labels approved by EPA pre-empt OSHA's label requirements.
For now, users of pesticide products need to become familiar with both systems, at least until the agencies' requirements are harmonized. If you find yourself confused by conflicting language, check the SDS because EPA has recommended that registrants include the FIFRA label information and a brief explanation for any differences between that information and the SDS information in Section 15 (Regulatory Information) of the SDS.
Reuters News Service Publishes Map of U.S. Ammonium Nitrate Facilities
Reuters news service has posted a map on their website showing locations in the U.S. where ammonium nitrate (AN) is stored. The information was posted based on Tier II reports submitted in 2012 and is posted publicly based on the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA). Several agricultural businesses and associations have contacted Reuters regarding reportedly erroneous information contained in their posting. Posting this type of information for the public and potential use by terrorists is blatantly irresponsible. We encourage retailers to view the map and make sure the information reported is accurate. You can click here to send an email to Reuters if the information is not accurate to remove your facility information. Click here to view the map. Click here to view the entire news story.
Center for Effective Government Publishes Map of U.S. Ammonia Releases
Just prior to the Reuters article, we became aware of the Center for Effective Government's release of an article summarizing anhydrous ammonia accidents, nationwide along with providing an interactive map identifying facilities handling anhydrous ammonia and the total accidents per facility. The Center lists as one of its core mission statements to "Protect core governing processes from undue influence by special interests, through analysis, advocacy and strategic partnerships, inside and outside of Washington. We particularly focus on effective implementation of critical public protections, improvements in public spending transparency and reforms that enhance government performance and public oversight of governance practices." We encourage retailers to view the map and make sure the information reported is accurate. Again, posting this type of information for the public and potential use by terrorists is blatantly irresponsible. Click here to access the map and review your information.
Feds vs. Feds Over Texas Blast
At a time when our industry needs answers, the gridlock normally reserved for inside the beltway has been extended to the tragedy in West, TX. Reportedly, Federal agents representing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), along with the Texas State Fire Marshal, have effectively barred the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), a federal safety panel, from the site of the Texas fertilizer blast that killed 15 people and injured about 200 others. A criminal investigation "comes with certain sensitivities and you need to keep it to law enforcement only," Robert Champion, ATF special agent in charge of the investigation told one newspaper. He also said the decision to bar the CSB from the site was made by the State Fire Marshal's Office. Fire Marshal's Office spokeswoman Rachel Moreno said the CSB was kept out because criminal investigators were executing search warrants. "We have to protect evidence," she told the American-Statesman. "We need to have one report, one set of interviews; it all has to be clear cut." On May 16th, representatives of the State Fire Marshal's Office announced that the joint criminal investigation left the cause of a fire precipitating the blast as "undetermined." Investigators narrowed the number of possible causes to three: a problem with one of the plant's electrical systems, a battery-powered golf cart and a criminal act. However, they could not say with certainty what caused the fire that ignited stored ammonium nitrate, said Kelly Kistner, the Assistant State Fire Marshal.
Hazardous Materials Safety Permits Renewal Process - Now 60 Days
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) advised The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) that hazardous materials shippers who require a DOT safety permit to transport hazardous materials can now apply for renewal of permits 60-days prior to expiration. Until now, permits could not be renewed more than 30-days in advance. TFI has been working with FMCSA on improvements to the safety permit program and expect additional changes after a complete review by the agency.
New NTIP System Helps Ensure Compliance
DOT requires any nurse tank with a missing or illegible data plate to undergo a series of three tests/inspections every five years - or be taken out of service immediately. Retention of the final documentation is essential if DOT comes knocking. Once the official Nurse Tank Inspection Report has been completed and signed by both parties, the reports can be electronically uploaded by using the EZ-Update feature located on our homepage. Once uploaded, the documents will be stored electronically for retention and retrieval in the future when DOT performs your audit. EZ-Update is easy to use - a simple click on the link and you are prompted to attach an electronic copy of the inspection form to be uploaded. Once submitted, the PDF report will be reviewed for completeness by an Asmark Institute employee and attached to the corresponding nurse tank unit in Vehicle Maintenance Central. Just click on the EZ-Update link and you will be able to submit an electronic copy of the completed nurse tank inspection forms in one easy to use and convenient location. If uploading a scanned copy of the signed, official inspection report isn't an option for your location, they can be mailed to the Asmark Institute - please mark them "Attention: NTIP." Contact Nick Clements at 270-926-4600 Ext 212 or email nick.clements@asmark.org if you have questions or need more information.
New NTIP System
West Fertilizer Report Details Unfortunate Sequence Events
How the West Fertilizer fire began still isn't known and may never be. The investigation has unveiled the detailed sequence of a catastrophe: Heat, pressure and shockwave made dual explosions, just milliseconds apart. Something started a blaze in the seed room of the company's fertilizer and seed building, a 13,000-square-foot structure by the spur rail on the northeast side of town. It could have been an old golf cart stored there, or a problem with the warehouse's electrical wiring or arson. The evidence, investigators from the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said Thursday, is insufficient to prove any of them. Still, they reconstructed most of what happened and laid it out in public for the first time:
The seed room was on the building's north end, blown to oblivion along with most of the rest of the company's assets. The crater, 93 feet across and 10 feet deep, marks its location. "Parked inside the seed room was an old golf cart," West Mayor Tommy Muska said, having seen workers driving it many times. It was battery-operated, recharged by plugging it into an outlet. Nearby, in the same building, were wooden bins that held about 50 tons of ammonium-nitrate fertilizer. Outside, a rail car held an additional 100 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer unaffected by the explosion.
For 22 minutes, the fire burned - through the time when volunteer firefighters got the call, responded, asked for backup and started preparing for what might come. The fire kept getting hotter, raising the temperature of some of the ammonium nitrate - that is, shifting the chemical toward instability and increasing the likelihood that it would explode if detonated by a shockwave. That first detonation set off another - thousandths of a second later, so fast that witnesses couldn't tell them apart. The U.S. Geological Survey's earthquake-detecting seismograph west of town at Lake Whitney registered two distinct impacts. All told, only about 28 to 34 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded, but an additional 20 to 30 tons in the building didn't explode and neither did the ammonium nitrate in the rail car. The amount that did detonate had the explosive power of 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of TNT. It flung bits of buildings and vehicles up to 2.5 miles, though most of the debris fell within 3,000 feet, slightly more than a half-mile.
The search for answers on the ground took a month of combing through 14 to 15 acres, even sifting through hundreds of thousands of pounds of corn and milo by hand. It turned up an enormous amount of evidence, but not enough to prove any specific cause to a scientific certainty which leaves open three possibilities. One was the battery-powered golf cart. Over the past 15 years, tens of thousands of golf carts have been recalled because of fire risks, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says. Another possibility was an electrical system fire. Investigators exonerated the heavy-duty, 480-volt system in the warehouse that ran the big equipment. But the separate conventional 120-volt system couldn't be ruled out, so it remains a possibility. The third was arson.
TFI Donates to West, Texas Relief Fund
On May 1st, the City Council of West, Texas took action and designated the West, Texas Disaster Relief Efforts Fund as the recommended recipient for all charitable donations made for the relief efforts in West, Texas. To date, the fund has received more than $500,000. The funds are housed at the Waco Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity. All donations will go directly to those impacted by the tragedy, as The Waco Foundation is donating in-kind services and financial resources to the West Texas Fund. The Fertilizer Institute, on behalf of its members, has made a $100,000 contribution to the fund.
MDA Pursues Independent Anhydrous Ammonia Inspector Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) was directed by the 2011 Legislature to write rules and create a certification program certifying independent inspectors to inspect anhydrous ammonia facilities. These independent inspectors would be responsible for assessing a facility's compliance with the state of Minnesota's anhydrous ammonia laws and rules. The intent of such assessments is to help facilities comply with applicable regulations, improve operational safety and ultimately reduce the noncompliance issues found by MDA during its regulatory inspections that result in enforcement action. The findings that the independent inspectors provide to the facilities will provide the facility with an important, accurate and real-time compliance assessment. The information can show facilities the operational areas that are out of compliance and enable them to make needed repairs. The goal of this program is to create an inspection process that is regulatory based, but available on a contract basis between the facility and the independent inspector who is certified by the MDA. These inspectors will not be employees of the MDA and will not have authority through the MDA to enforce rules and laws or assess penalties. The MDA will receive notice when a facility has passed an inspection. The MDA will continue to inspect anhydrous ammonia facilities to determine compliance. The MDA expects that facilities that have previously passed an independent inspection will have fewer violations during MDA inspections and necessitate less MDA enforcement response. This program will be the first of its kind in the nation, no other state currently certifies independent anhydrous ammonia facility inspectors.
DOT Proposal Allows State and Federal Officers to Share Your Medical Status
DOT recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to allow state and federal enforcement officials to easily share and view the most current information about a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver's medical certification status. The proposed rule would require certified medical examiners performing physical examinations on CMV drivers to use a newly developed Medical Examination Report (MER) form, and to use a new form for the medical examiner's certificate (MEC). In addition, the Certified Medical Examiners would be required to report results of all completed commercial drivers' physical examinations (including the results of examinations where the driver was found not to be qualified) to FMCSA by close of business on the day of the examination using the new form. DOT would in turn make the MEC information for interstate commercial driver's license (CDL) holders available to the State driver licensing agencies as part of the integration of the medical certification and CDL issuance and renewal process. This proposal is a follow-on rule to the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners published on April 20, 2012 and the Medical Certification Requirements as part of the CDL rule published on December 1, 2008. Comments on the proposed rule should be submitted by July 9, 2013. Click here to review the proposed regulation.
DriftWatch Specialty Crops Registry Goes National
Originated by Purdue University's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE), the now independent non-profit FieldWatch entity has taken DriftWatch national. The online DriftWatch registry allows crop producers to identify and map the location of their sensitive crops such as tomatoes, fruit trees, grapes, vegetables and organic crops, providing a stewardship resource for applicators to consult before spraying. To learn more about FieldWatch and to gain access to the DriftWatch registry, go to www.fieldwatch.com.
Equipment Dealership Consolidation Continues at Steady Pace
It's safe to say the movement toward fewer ownership groups in the past year has not slowed. What's clear about ag equipment dealership consolidation is that the big are tending to get bigger. The most recognizable and aggressive example of this is Titan Machinery. A year ago, Case IH's largest dealer group reported 96 total locations that included 62 ag equipment and 34 construction equipment stores. Currently, Titan owns and operates 120 total equipment locations, 78 of which focus on farm machinery, in 11 states and Europe. Overall, an examination of the biggest of the big shows their number of store locations are indeed growing, though the average number of stores owned by each of the big dealers hasn't varied significantly from one year ago. Comparing the numbers since 2009, the growth of the really big dealers represents a significant trend and a reshaping of ag equipment distribution channels.
New OSHA Initiative: Protecting Temporary Workers
OSHA has announced an initiative to further protect temporary employees from workplace hazards. OSHA is directing field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Inspectors will use a newly created code in their information system to denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations. Additionally, they will assess whether temporary workers received required training in a language and vocabulary they could understand. According to OSHA, the memo, which can be viewed at http://s.dol.gov/ZM, underscores the duty of employers to protect all workers from hazards.
Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Modern Agriculture
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in the case of Bowman vs. Monsanto. The Supreme Court recognizes the importance of upholding intellectual property rights for the development of valuable tools for modern agriculture. The Supreme Court decision was authored by Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote, "In the case at hand, Bowman planted Monsanto's patented soybeans solely to make and market replicas of them, thus depriving the company of the reward patent law provides for the sale of each article. Patent exhaustion provides no haven for that conduct. We accordingly affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit." In the case, Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman was sued by Monsanto Company for purchasing Monsanto-patented soybeans from a commodity grain elevator, planting the seeds, then spraying the field with glyphosate.
Don't Let Demands for Fertilizer Regulation Overlook Unique Soil Issues
As the catastrophic fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas continues to stir debate about additional regulation, one factor that hasn't been discussed as much is the soil of Central Texas and its unique requirements that dictate the use of ammonium nitrate. Different soils in different parts of the country have historically driven the market for five basic forms of nitrogen fertilizer. Each type of fertilizer has different uses and risks - some work better on particular crops and soils than others.
According to Mark L. McFarland, a soil fertility specialist at Texas A&M University, there are five different agricultural fertilizers widely used in Texas. Ammonium nitrate was stored in large quantities at a depot in West that exploded last month, killing at least 14 people and injuring hundreds more. The other types used in the state include anhydrous ammonia, urea, ammonium sulfate and a liquid solution of urea ammonium nitrate solution, often called UAN.
Much of the soil in Central Texas, where many farmers got their fertilizer from the West plant, is alkaline. That attribute is related to the large amount of calcium carbonate - the chief component of limestone - in the region's geology. Alkaline soils exacerbate the problem of fertilizer evaporation. Farmers tilling alkaline face decreased returns from using liquid fertilizer. "Dry, straight ammonium nitrate has an extremely low volatility risk on any soil," McFarland said, referring to the fertilizer's low evaporation rates. In addition, ammonium nitrate has high levels of nitrogen, which along with ammonia is critical for plant growth and is ideal for growing grain.
While anhydrous ammonia, a gas, is the cheapest and easiest fertilizer to produce, it must be injected into soil using specialized equipment, or else much of the benefit is lost. The other four types of fertilizer are deployed in either liquid or powder form. Urea is a good source of nitrogen, but its nutrients evaporate at a high rate. It poses a moderate combustion risk, depending greatly on how it's stored.
Holding these nutrients in a liquid solution almost eliminates the risk of a catastrophic explosion, but that safety comes with a trade-off. UAN volatilizes faster than pure ammonium nitrate. Improperly applied, farmers lose some of the benefit of the fertilizer.
The fertilizer that poses the smallest risk of evaporation, and is the easiest to apply, also happens to be the security-sensitive ammonium nitrate. In recent years, ammonium nitrate has become harder for farmers to get, partially as a result of the safety and security practices mandated by the federal government after the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11.
2013 Asmark Institute, Inc. This information is believed to be reliable by the Asmark Institute, however, because of constantly changing government regulations, interpretations and applicability or the possibility of human, mechanical or computer error, the Asmark Institute does not guarantee the information as suitable for any particular purpose.