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Newsletter
Volume 187
June 3, 2019

2019 Season Tests Patience

There's certainly a lot of frustration this year due to the wetter than normal Spring season and serious weather lately that has stalled over the central portion of the country.  Start with a wet Fall, add in heavy snowfall in the upper Midwest, throw in a cooler and wetter Spring - it becomes the perfect recipe for flooding resulting in a late planting season.  Planting is reportedly only 14% complete now as compared to the last five-year average of 82% normally complete by May 31st.  Almost half the country is experiencing overflowing rivers, water-logged soil and historic flooding.  Recent weeks have produced serious weather such as hail, thunderstorms and deadly tornadoes.  This weather doesn't just affect the fields and the folks who work them, it also disrupts the transportation of inputs due to damaged roads and bridges making the task of Spring planting that much harder.

In the time of year when farmers might be wrapping up the last fields or even finished planting, some are only just beginning - or haven't started at all!  It's not just corn stalks that are piling up, there's heavy debris that has collected in washed out fields, and once the ground finally does dry out, fields will need to be cleaned up before planting.  It's very likely there will be some fields that go unplanted this season because the time and resources aren't available to get them prepped for crops.  Ask any farmer about having to sit a year out with no production and they will tell you stories of just how it impacts their operation and their families.

We've heard from some of our clients that have been affected by the flooding, and although there's frustration, everything we've heard has been with a positive attitude - which says a lot about the agriculture community.  If farmers are said to be “eternal optimists,” then the farm centers that service them must truly work on the premise of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  The ag retail industry proves to be resilient once again in 2019.  Everyone here at the Asmark Institute sends our thoughts and prayers to our clients and their families as they navigate the busy season.  Please be safe and watch out for those around you!

The "Whiz" of Asmark

What do the Wizard of Oz and Asmark have in common?  Megan Hill.  Megan celebrated her 10-year anniversary with Asmark on March 9, 2019.  She is Manager of Data and Processes and leads a group of three on the IT team.  She is a Louisiana native, where she went to school and graduated from LSU.  While in school to be an Ag teacher, Megan came to Owensboro, Kentucky to stay with her grandparents and complete an internship at Asmark.  She started out working with New Hires and SARA Tier II reporting, and then gradually moved into the IT Department, where her true talents became obvious.  

Megan was instrumental in developing both the Add-A-Plant and Annual Compliance Wizards, earning her the "Whiz" of Asmark nickname. She has developed hundreds of processes and created mechanisms utilizing technology to make things faster, easier, better, and most of all, efficient for Asmark and our clients. Megan in many ways plays the role of the “woman behind the curtain,” much like the Wizard, as most of her best work is done behind-the-scenes.

Fun Fact: While in high school, Megan and her husband, Jonathan, both participated in the Wizard of Oz production as munchkins.  They’ve made their home in Owensboro, Kentucky and have two munchkins of their own now, Olivia - 4 and Isaac – 18 months, and their own Toto, an English bulldog named Frankie.

IFCA Provides 6 Tips for Anhydrous Transport Safety

In the early morning hours of April 25th, an Anhydrous Ammonia leak occurred in Beach Park, IL. Several people in the community were affected by the release, including first responders, leaving 37 injured and 7 in critical condition.  Following this incident, the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) released 6 safety tips for transporting Anhydrous Ammonia on the road.

Along with these safety tips, IFCA's news bulletin explains that if a farmer has a reportable release (18 gallons or 100 pounds), then federal regulations, and even state regulations in Illinois, say it is the farmer's responsibility to notify emergency personnel immediately.  Although they may not want to make the call, it has been clearly stated by both US EPA and IEMA that it the farmer's responsibility, along with providing a written follow-up report to both agencies.  Click here to read IFCA's full bulletin.

DOT & EPA AG-30 Hour Course - Only a Few Seats Left!

Registration for the DOT & EPA AG-30 Hour Course is now open, and only a few seats remain for the July class.  The four day course led by Dustin Warder, Manager of Regulatory Affairs for the Asmark Institute, provides a “facilitated training experience” using a combination of classroom lectures, scenarios and hands-on exercises.  Experience shows our clients simply have an easier time with compliance issues when they understand how the regulations came about and what the agency expects of them.

The training is conducted at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY, a retired agrichemical facility specifically designed and retro-fitted for training purposes.  The facility is one huge “prop,” used in the course to reinforce the learning process and help the participants with the practical application of the DOT and EPA regulations.  Discover how the agencies work and what violations they impose that can adversely affect your company.  Participants will learn how to assess their organization's level of compliance and utilize safety-audit tools to significantly reduce, and potentially eliminate, accidents and violations.

Class is limited to 24 participants, so register today!  For more information or questions, please contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext. 234.

International Roadcheck Set for June 4-6

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck will take place June 4-6, 2019. Over that 72-hour period, commercial motor vehicle inspectors in jurisdictions throughout North America will conduct inspections on commercial motor vehicles and drivers.  This year’s focus is steering and suspension systems.

During International Roadcheck, CVSA-certified inspectors will primarily conduct the North American Standard Level I Inspection, a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness.  The vehicle inspection includes checking critical inspection items such as: brake systems; cargo securement; coupling devices; driveline/driveshaft; driver’s seat (missing); exhaust systems; frames; fuel systems; lighting devices (headlamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, turn signals and lamps/flags on projecting loads); steering mechanisms; suspensions; tires; van and open-top trailer bodies; wheels, rims and hubs; windshield wipers.

Drivers may be asked to provide their license, endorsements, medical card and hours-of-service documentation.  Inspectors will also be attentive to apparent drug or alcohol impairment and will check for seat belt usage.  If no critical inspection item violations are found during a Level I Inspection, a CVSA decal will be applied to the vehicle.  If an inspector does identify critical inspection item violations, they may place the driver or vehicle out of service.

NTIP Summer Training Dates Announced

Registration is now open for the 2019 Summer Nurse Tank Inspection "CT" Courses scheduled for July. This one day course, led by John Rebholz, is designed to help train Cargo Tank or "CT" inspectors understand their duties associated with the proper pressure (P), thickness (T) and visual (V) tests and inspections for nurse tanks used for anhydrous ammonia, and will serve to provide the initial and three year refresher training. Participants will receive a certificate valid for three years, which fulfills the training requirements for DOT's function-specific training for hazardous materials.

CT inspectors who are eligible to renew their Asmark Institute NTIP "CT" Training should watch your mail for your personalized invitation. Classes are limited to 22 participants, so register today to ensure you get the class date most convenient for you. Click here to register. For more information or questions, please contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext. 234.

Lockout/Tagout Standard Update Considered by OSHA

OSHA is requesting information on a possible update to the Control of Hazardous Energy - Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standard.  The Agency is interested in comments on the use of control circuit-type devices to isolate energy, as well as the evolving technology for robotics.  OSHA is requesting information about:
  • how employers have been using control circuit devices, including information about the types of circuitry and safety procedures being used;
  • limitations of their use, to determine under what other conditions control circuit-type devices could be used safely;
  • new risks of worker exposure to hazardous energy as a result of increased interaction with robots; and
  • whether the agency should consider changes to the LOTO standard that would address these new risks.
The current LOTO standard was published in 1989.  It requires that all sources of energy be controlled during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment using an energy-isolating device.  The standard specifies that control circuit devices cannot be used as energy-isolating devices, but the agency recognizes recent technological advances may have improved the safety of control circuit-type devices.

Comments must be submitted on or before August 18, 2019.  Comments and materials may be submitted electronically and identified by Docket No. OSHA-2016-0013, or by mail or fax.

ARA Urges STB to Hold Railroads Accountable

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) testified before the Surface Transportation Board (STB) about excessive demurrage and accessorial charges against agricultural retailers and distributors. ARA recommended that the agency allow for a more reasonable timeframe (minimum 48 hours up to 96 hours) to load and unload shipments following shipping schedules created by the agricultural retailer and manufacturer, as the current 24-hour time frame is too short. In addition, ARA recommended STB require the railroads provide daily progress reports to the shipper and the receiver so they know the exact location of the rail cars to increase compliance. Reciprocal demurrage charges should be imposed on the railroads to ensure commercial fairness and accountability.

In the testimony, ARA Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Counsel, Richard Gupton, told the STB that ARA members (ag retailers, distributors and manufacturers) are continually impacted by poor rail service that includes bunching of rail cars and imposed high demurrage charges.

“ARA and its members believe the excessive charges being imposed by the Class 1 railroads are commercially unfair and lack appropriate reciprocity as it relates to non-performance by the railroads,” Gupton said. “The charges are well above and beyond the intent of the STB demurrage liability regulations that are designed to encourage efficient loading and unloading of product … ”

From ARA’s perspective, it appears the railroads are trying to generate income by any means possible. The largest driver of the demurrage charges relates to bunching, as some cars sit in the yard for several days while additional cars arrive and the railroads try to deliver them all at once.

“The railroad industry has changed dramatically over the past three decades. If the railroads are left to continue to operate in their present state and impose excessive freight rates and demurrage charges, the nation’s agricultural productivity will be negatively impacted, and consumers will be impacted by higher food costs.” Read ARA's testimony as prepared for the record.

Now Open!  Applicator Training Course Registration

Precision application can make the difference between a profitable year and a break-even year, and finding qualified professional applicators can be a problem.  The Asmark Institute and AGCO have teamed up to create a training program dedicated to educating and developing new professional applicators. The two lead instructors, Greg Yoder and Gary Cornell, are both seasoned professional applicators with over 75 years combined experience.

The Applicator Training Course is a four-day course specifically designed for new applicators with less than three years of experience.  The course offers hands-on training where participants learn how to start and assess a field, develop a plan to manage drift, reinforces the importance of professionalism and so much more.  Participants take part in a Ride-N-Drive exercise, which challenges them on the mile-long all-weather track that includes a bridge, narrow gateway, steep slopes, railroad crossing and a power line hazard - all in a safe and controlled environment.  The Ride-N-Drive fleet includes a brand new 2019 1100C series RoGator, John Deere, Case, Hagie and TerraGator.  Experience the track for yourself.

Classes are limited to 21 participants, so register today before seats are filled! For questions or more information, contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext 234.

Hours of Service Proposal Coming Soon

DOT plans to move forward with the proposed rule to change certain Hours of Service provisions. Changes should be published in early June.  The pre-proposal asked for comments on:
  • Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving; and
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.
Stay tuned for updates as more information becomes available.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

More than 2,500 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 1,423 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to: www.responsibleag.org

FMCSA Top Five Violations for 2018

Ever wonder what the top five violations cited at roadside inspections are? The following table lists the the top five for the driver, vehicle and hazardous materials categories:

Rank Code Description Violations
2018 Roadside Inspections - Driver Violations
1 395.8 Record of Duty Status violation 81,047
2 392.2 Speeding 6-10 72,284
3 392.16 Failing to use seat belt 60,477
4 392.2(c) Failure to obey traffic control device 53,993
5 391.41(a) No valid medical certificate 52,642
2018 Roadside Inspections - Vehicle Violations
1 393.9 Required lamp(s) not operable 255,995
2 396.17(c) Operating without proof of a periodic inspection 93,742
3 393.47(e) Brake(s) out of adjustment 88,368
4 393.95(a) No/discharged/unsecured fire extinguisher 74,427
5 396.3(a)(1) General inspection/repair/maintenance 74,016
2018 Roadside Inspections - Hazmat Violations
1 177.834(a) Package not secure in vehicle 4,444
2 107.620(b) No copy of USDOT hazmat registration number 3,123
3 177.817(e) Shipping paper accessibility 2,665
4 177.817(a) No or improper shipping papers 2,325
5 172.516(c)(6) Placard damaged, deteriorated, or obscured 2,265

Another Potential Pilot Program for Younger Drivers

DOT is seeking public comment on a possible second pilot program to allow non-military 18-20 year old drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce.  This new potential second pilot program follows DOT’s first pilot program, which is starting in June and limited to 18-20 year old CMV drivers with military experience.  Comments on the training, qualifications, driving limitations and vehicle safety systems that should be considered must be received no later than July 15, 2019.  Click here for more information.

Ammonia Technician Course Registration - Now Open!

One of our most popular Signature Training Courses, the Ammonia Technician Course, is geared toward the personnel responsible for operating an ammonia installation who EPA and OSHA require to be trained to maintain the ongoing mechanical integrity of the equipment used in the process.  Training is the key to performing maintenance operations - safely!

The course is led by John Rebholz, Director of Safety and Education for the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA).  John has over three decades working for the IL Department of Ag as a Plant and Pesticide Specialist, and he brings a wealth of knowledge to the Ammonia Technician Course.

This training is valid for three years and classes are limited to 22 participants, so register today as this course fills up very fast! For more information or questions, please contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext. 234.

EPA Reviews Glyphosate: Finds No Risks to Public Health...Again

In a recent news release, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a review and continues to find that when the herbicide glyphosate, most commonly known as Roundup, is used according to the current label, there are "no risks to public health" and does not classify it as a carcinogen.  In the risk assessments performed in 2017, there were also no public health risks identified by the agency.  There were ecological risks in 2017, and EPA addressed those by proposing management measures that would help farmers with accuracy and efficiency when using glyphosate.  EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said, "we look forward to input from farmers and other stakeholders to ensure that the draft management measures are workable, realistic and effective."

Paid Overtime Changes Proposed

The Department of Labor announced a proposed rule that would make over a million more American workers eligible for overtime.  Under currently enforced law, employees with a salary below $455 per week ($23,660 annually) must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. Workers making at least this salary level may be eligible for overtime based on their job duties.  This salary level was set in 2004.

This proposal would boost the proposed standard salary level to $679 per week (equivalent to $35,308 per year). Above this salary level, eligibility for overtime varies based on job duties.  The proposal does not call for regular adjustments to the salary threshold.  Other changes are proposed for nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments, as well as the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees.

A Dozen Product Registrations Cancelled

In response to legal action, EPA is cancelling registrations for 12 pesticides containing neonicotinoid-said to be toxic to honeybees. The cancellations are part of a legal settlement brought forward by environmentalists and bee keepers.

Product cancellations include:
  • Meridian 0.20G
  • Meridian 0.14F
  • Avicta Complete Corn 500
  • THX_MXM_FDL_TBZ FS
  • Adage Deluxe
  • Adage Premier
  • Emesto Quantum
  • V-10170 0.25 G GL Insecticide
  • Inovate Seed Protectant
  • Inovate Neutral Seed Protectant
  • Aloft GC G Insecticide
  • Flower, Rose & Shrub Care III
The cancellations went into effect on May 20th. Registrants may continue to sell and distribute existing stocks of the products until May 20, 2020, which is one year after the publication of the Cancellation Order in the Federal Register.  Persons other than the registrants may sell, distribute or use existing stocks of products until existing stocks are exhausted, provided that such sale, distribution or use is consistent with the terms of the previously approval labeling on, or that accompanied, the canceled products. This decision comes after more than five years of litigation between environmentalists and EPA. Bayer, Syngenta and Valent voluntarily agreed to pull these products as part of the settlement.

National Labor Law Poster Updates

Considering the magnitude of state and federal agencies in existence today, it’s no surprise that labor laws are constantly changing.  The Federal Wage and Labor Law Institute (FWLLI) tracks these updates for us and we provide results for you.  Wondering if you need a poster update?  Click here to check for the latest Federal and/or State updates to the labor law posters.

2019 Season Tests Patience

There's certainly a lot of frustration this year due to the wetter than normal Spring season and serious weather lately that has stalled over the central portion of the country.  Start with a wet Fall, add in heavy snowfall in the upper Midwest, throw in a cooler and wetter Spring - it becomes the perfect recipe for flooding resulting in a late planting season.  Planting is reportedly only 14% complete now as compared to the last five-year average of 82% normally complete by May 31st.  Almost half the country is experiencing overflowing rivers, water-logged soil and historic flooding.  Recent weeks have produced serious weather such as hail, thunderstorms and deadly tornadoes.  This weather doesn't just affect the fields and the folks who work them, it also disrupts the transportation of inputs due to damaged roads and bridges making the task of Spring planting that much harder.

In the time of year when farmers might be wrapping up the last fields or even finished planting, some are only just beginning - or haven't started at all!  It's not just corn stalks that are piling up, there's heavy debris that has collected in washed out fields, and once the ground finally does dry out, fields will need to be cleaned up before planting.  It's very likely there will be some fields that go unplanted this season because the time and resources aren't available to get them prepped for crops.  Ask any farmer about having to sit a year out with no production and they will tell you stories of just how it impacts their operation and their families.

We've heard from some of our clients that have been affected by the flooding, and although there's frustration, everything we've heard has been with a positive attitude - which says a lot about the agriculture community.  If farmers are said to be “eternal optimists,” then the farm centers that service them must truly work on the premise of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  The ag retail industry proves to be resilient once again in 2019.  Everyone here at the Asmark Institute sends our thoughts and prayers to our clients and their families as they navigate the busy season.  Please be safe and watch out for those around you!

The "Whiz" of Asmark

What do the Wizard of Oz and Asmark have in common?  Megan Hill.  Megan celebrated her 10-year anniversary with Asmark on March 9, 2019.  She is Manager of Data and Processes and leads a group of three on the IT team.  She is a Louisiana native, where she went to school and graduated from LSU.  While in school to be an Ag teacher, Megan came to Owensboro, Kentucky to stay with her grandparents and complete an internship at Asmark.  She started out working with New Hires and SARA Tier II reporting, and then gradually moved into the IT Department, where her true talents became obvious.  

Megan was instrumental in developing both the Add-A-Plant and Annual Compliance Wizards, earning her the "Whiz" of Asmark nickname. She has developed hundreds of processes and created mechanisms utilizing technology to make things faster, easier, better, and most of all, efficient for Asmark and our clients. Megan in many ways plays the role of the “woman behind the curtain,” much like the Wizard, as most of her best work is done behind-the-scenes.

Fun Fact: While in high school, Megan and her husband, Jonathan, both participated in the Wizard of Oz production as munchkins.  They’ve made their home in Owensboro, Kentucky and have two munchkins of their own now, Olivia - 4 and Isaac – 18 months, and their own Toto, an English bulldog named Frankie.

IFCA Provides 6 Tips for Anhydrous Transport Safety

In the early morning hours of April 25th, an Anhydrous Ammonia leak occurred in Beach Park, IL. Several people in the community were affected by the release, including first responders, leaving 37 injured and 7 in critical condition.  Following this incident, the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) released 6 safety tips for transporting Anhydrous Ammonia on the road.

Along with these safety tips, IFCA's news bulletin explains that if a farmer has a reportable release (18 gallons or 100 pounds), then federal regulations, and even state regulations in Illinois, say it is the farmer's responsibility to notify emergency personnel immediately.  Although they may not want to make the call, it has been clearly stated by both US EPA and IEMA that it the farmer's responsibility, along with providing a written follow-up report to both agencies.  Click here to read IFCA's full bulletin.

DOT & EPA AG-30 Hour Course - Only a Few Seats Left!

Registration for the DOT & EPA AG-30 Hour Course is now open, and only a few seats remain for the July class.  The four day course led by Dustin Warder, Manager of Regulatory Affairs for the Asmark Institute, provides a “facilitated training experience” using a combination of classroom lectures, scenarios and hands-on exercises.  Experience shows our clients simply have an easier time with compliance issues when they understand how the regulations came about and what the agency expects of them.

The training is conducted at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY, a retired agrichemical facility specifically designed and retro-fitted for training purposes.  The facility is one huge “prop,” used in the course to reinforce the learning process and help the participants with the practical application of the DOT and EPA regulations.  Discover how the agencies work and what violations they impose that can adversely affect your company.  Participants will learn how to assess their organization's level of compliance and utilize safety-audit tools to significantly reduce, and potentially eliminate, accidents and violations.

Class is limited to 24 participants, so register today!  For more information or questions, please contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext. 234.

International Roadcheck Set for June 4-6

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck will take place June 4-6, 2019. Over that 72-hour period, commercial motor vehicle inspectors in jurisdictions throughout North America will conduct inspections on commercial motor vehicles and drivers.  This year’s focus is steering and suspension systems.

During International Roadcheck, CVSA-certified inspectors will primarily conduct the North American Standard Level I Inspection, a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness.  The vehicle inspection includes checking critical inspection items such as: brake systems; cargo securement; coupling devices; driveline/driveshaft; driver’s seat (missing); exhaust systems; frames; fuel systems; lighting devices (headlamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, turn signals and lamps/flags on projecting loads); steering mechanisms; suspensions; tires; van and open-top trailer bodies; wheels, rims and hubs; windshield wipers.

Drivers may be asked to provide their license, endorsements, medical card and hours-of-service documentation.  Inspectors will also be attentive to apparent drug or alcohol impairment and will check for seat belt usage.  If no critical inspection item violations are found during a Level I Inspection, a CVSA decal will be applied to the vehicle.  If an inspector does identify critical inspection item violations, they may place the driver or vehicle out of service.

NTIP Summer Training Dates Announced

Registration is now open for the 2019 Summer Nurse Tank Inspection "CT" Courses scheduled for July. This one day course, led by John Rebholz, is designed to help train Cargo Tank or "CT" inspectors understand their duties associated with the proper pressure (P), thickness (T) and visual (V) tests and inspections for nurse tanks used for anhydrous ammonia, and will serve to provide the initial and three year refresher training. Participants will receive a certificate valid for three years, which fulfills the training requirements for DOT's function-specific training for hazardous materials.

CT inspectors who are eligible to renew their Asmark Institute NTIP "CT" Training should watch your mail for your personalized invitation. Classes are limited to 22 participants, so register today to ensure you get the class date most convenient for you. Click here to register. For more information or questions, please contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext. 234.

Lockout/Tagout Standard Update Considered by OSHA

OSHA is requesting information on a possible update to the Control of Hazardous Energy - Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standard.  The Agency is interested in comments on the use of control circuit-type devices to isolate energy, as well as the evolving technology for robotics.  OSHA is requesting information about:
  • how employers have been using control circuit devices, including information about the types of circuitry and safety procedures being used;
  • limitations of their use, to determine under what other conditions control circuit-type devices could be used safely;
  • new risks of worker exposure to hazardous energy as a result of increased interaction with robots; and
  • whether the agency should consider changes to the LOTO standard that would address these new risks.
The current LOTO standard was published in 1989.  It requires that all sources of energy be controlled during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment using an energy-isolating device.  The standard specifies that control circuit devices cannot be used as energy-isolating devices, but the agency recognizes recent technological advances may have improved the safety of control circuit-type devices.

Comments must be submitted on or before August 18, 2019.  Comments and materials may be submitted electronically and identified by Docket No. OSHA-2016-0013, or by mail or fax.

ARA Urges STB to Hold Railroads Accountable

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) testified before the Surface Transportation Board (STB) about excessive demurrage and accessorial charges against agricultural retailers and distributors. ARA recommended that the agency allow for a more reasonable timeframe (minimum 48 hours up to 96 hours) to load and unload shipments following shipping schedules created by the agricultural retailer and manufacturer, as the current 24-hour time frame is too short. In addition, ARA recommended STB require the railroads provide daily progress reports to the shipper and the receiver so they know the exact location of the rail cars to increase compliance. Reciprocal demurrage charges should be imposed on the railroads to ensure commercial fairness and accountability.

In the testimony, ARA Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Counsel, Richard Gupton, told the STB that ARA members (ag retailers, distributors and manufacturers) are continually impacted by poor rail service that includes bunching of rail cars and imposed high demurrage charges.

“ARA and its members believe the excessive charges being imposed by the Class 1 railroads are commercially unfair and lack appropriate reciprocity as it relates to non-performance by the railroads,” Gupton said. “The charges are well above and beyond the intent of the STB demurrage liability regulations that are designed to encourage efficient loading and unloading of product … ”

From ARA’s perspective, it appears the railroads are trying to generate income by any means possible. The largest driver of the demurrage charges relates to bunching, as some cars sit in the yard for several days while additional cars arrive and the railroads try to deliver them all at once.

“The railroad industry has changed dramatically over the past three decades. If the railroads are left to continue to operate in their present state and impose excessive freight rates and demurrage charges, the nation’s agricultural productivity will be negatively impacted, and consumers will be impacted by higher food costs.” Read ARA's testimony as prepared for the record.

Now Open!  Applicator Training Course Registration

Precision application can make the difference between a profitable year and a break-even year, and finding qualified professional applicators can be a problem.  The Asmark Institute and AGCO have teamed up to create a training program dedicated to educating and developing new professional applicators. The two lead instructors, Greg Yoder and Gary Cornell, are both seasoned professional applicators with over 75 years combined experience.

The Applicator Training Course is a four-day course specifically designed for new applicators with less than three years of experience.  The course offers hands-on training where participants learn how to start and assess a field, develop a plan to manage drift, reinforces the importance of professionalism and so much more.  Participants take part in a Ride-N-Drive exercise, which challenges them on the mile-long all-weather track that includes a bridge, narrow gateway, steep slopes, railroad crossing and a power line hazard - all in a safe and controlled environment.  The Ride-N-Drive fleet includes a brand new 2019 1100C series RoGator, John Deere, Case, Hagie and TerraGator.  Experience the track for yourself.

Classes are limited to 21 participants, so register today before seats are filled! For questions or more information, contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext 234.

Hours of Service Proposal Coming Soon

DOT plans to move forward with the proposed rule to change certain Hours of Service provisions. Changes should be published in early June.  The pre-proposal asked for comments on:
  • Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving; and
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.
Stay tuned for updates as more information becomes available.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

More than 2,500 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 1,423 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to: www.responsibleag.org

FMCSA Top Five Violations for 2018

Ever wonder what the top five violations cited at roadside inspections are? The following table lists the the top five for the driver, vehicle and hazardous materials categories:

Rank Code Description Violations
2018 Roadside Inspections - Driver Violations
1 395.8 Record of Duty Status violation 81,047
2 392.2 Speeding 6-10 72,284
3 392.16 Failing to use seat belt 60,477
4 392.2(c) Failure to obey traffic control device 53,993
5 391.41(a) No valid medical certificate 52,642
2018 Roadside Inspections - Vehicle Violations
1 393.9 Required lamp(s) not operable 255,995
2 396.17(c) Operating without proof of a periodic inspection 93,742
3 393.47(e) Brake(s) out of adjustment 88,368
4 393.95(a) No/discharged/unsecured fire extinguisher 74,427
5 396.3(a)(1) General inspection/repair/maintenance 74,016
2018 Roadside Inspections - Hazmat Violations
1 177.834(a) Package not secure in vehicle 4,444
2 107.620(b) No copy of USDOT hazmat registration number 3,123
3 177.817(e) Shipping paper accessibility 2,665
4 177.817(a) No or improper shipping papers 2,325
5 172.516(c)(6) Placard damaged, deteriorated, or obscured 2,265

Another Potential Pilot Program for Younger Drivers

DOT is seeking public comment on a possible second pilot program to allow non-military 18-20 year old drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce.  This new potential second pilot program follows DOT’s first pilot program, which is starting in June and limited to 18-20 year old CMV drivers with military experience.  Comments on the training, qualifications, driving limitations and vehicle safety systems that should be considered must be received no later than July 15, 2019.  Click here for more information.

Ammonia Technician Course Registration - Now Open!

One of our most popular Signature Training Courses, the Ammonia Technician Course, is geared toward the personnel responsible for operating an ammonia installation who EPA and OSHA require to be trained to maintain the ongoing mechanical integrity of the equipment used in the process.  Training is the key to performing maintenance operations - safely!

The course is led by John Rebholz, Director of Safety and Education for the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA).  John has over three decades working for the IL Department of Ag as a Plant and Pesticide Specialist, and he brings a wealth of knowledge to the Ammonia Technician Course.

This training is valid for three years and classes are limited to 22 participants, so register today as this course fills up very fast! For more information or questions, please contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext. 234.

EPA Reviews Glyphosate: Finds No Risks to Public Health...Again

In a recent news release, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a review and continues to find that when the herbicide glyphosate, most commonly known as Roundup, is used according to the current label, there are "no risks to public health" and does not classify it as a carcinogen.  In the risk assessments performed in 2017, there were also no public health risks identified by the agency.  There were ecological risks in 2017, and EPA addressed those by proposing management measures that would help farmers with accuracy and efficiency when using glyphosate.  EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said, "we look forward to input from farmers and other stakeholders to ensure that the draft management measures are workable, realistic and effective."

Paid Overtime Changes Proposed

The Department of Labor announced a proposed rule that would make over a million more American workers eligible for overtime.  Under currently enforced law, employees with a salary below $455 per week ($23,660 annually) must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. Workers making at least this salary level may be eligible for overtime based on their job duties.  This salary level was set in 2004.

This proposal would boost the proposed standard salary level to $679 per week (equivalent to $35,308 per year). Above this salary level, eligibility for overtime varies based on job duties.  The proposal does not call for regular adjustments to the salary threshold.  Other changes are proposed for nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments, as well as the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees.

A Dozen Product Registrations Cancelled

In response to legal action, EPA is cancelling registrations for 12 pesticides containing neonicotinoid-said to be toxic to honeybees. The cancellations are part of a legal settlement brought forward by environmentalists and bee keepers.

Product cancellations include:
  • Meridian 0.20G
  • Meridian 0.14F
  • Avicta Complete Corn 500
  • THX_MXM_FDL_TBZ FS
  • Adage Deluxe
  • Adage Premier
  • Emesto Quantum
  • V-10170 0.25 G GL Insecticide
  • Inovate Seed Protectant
  • Inovate Neutral Seed Protectant
  • Aloft GC G Insecticide
  • Flower, Rose & Shrub Care III
The cancellations went into effect on May 20th. Registrants may continue to sell and distribute existing stocks of the products until May 20, 2020, which is one year after the publication of the Cancellation Order in the Federal Register.  Persons other than the registrants may sell, distribute or use existing stocks of products until existing stocks are exhausted, provided that such sale, distribution or use is consistent with the terms of the previously approval labeling on, or that accompanied, the canceled products. This decision comes after more than five years of litigation between environmentalists and EPA. Bayer, Syngenta and Valent voluntarily agreed to pull these products as part of the settlement.

National Labor Law Poster Updates

Considering the magnitude of state and federal agencies in existence today, it’s no surprise that labor laws are constantly changing.  The Federal Wage and Labor Law Institute (FWLLI) tracks these updates for us and we provide results for you.  Wondering if you need a poster update?  Click here to check for the latest Federal and/or State updates to the labor law posters.
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.