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Newsletter
Volume 193
December 2, 2019

Season's Greetings!

As we enter into the holiday season, all of us at the Asmark Institute would like to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year. We appreciate the relationships that have been developed between our organizations over the years and especially the opportunity to have worked with you in 2019!

Entry Level Driver Training Delay Expected to be Announced

The following article may be of interest as we know many are watching and preparing to comply with the new Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) requirements.  With the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMCSA) rule becoming effective February 7, 2020 this is a timely matter.  This hasn't been in the official Federal Register yet, however this information indicates a potential two-year delay for implementation is coming soon.  Click here to read more.

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed...All Year Long!

These three words not only describe the feelings most experience around Thanksgiving, but also the wonderful attitude and spirit of Donna Jones, our Customer Service Lead.  Donna has a genuinely positive outlook, leaving others feeling the same all year round with her infectious smile and service-oriented nature.

Donna started with the Asmark Institute over a decade ago in 2006, where she worked in the driver file department for the first couple of years.  She was one on a team of two that, at the time, managed close to 10,000 files.  As Asmark grew, it was apparent that our clients would benefit from having a customer service person that could assist with a variety of their needs and questions and also streamline calls for other departments.  Donna's upbeat and naturally helpful personality made her the perfect person to start the customer service team.  Through this position she grew not only the department, which now has two others that she leads, but also her own knowledge and understanding of our clients and Asmark's services.  By listening to clients' questions, she was able to provide valuable input in developing several key functions of Snapshots, such as the archive feature and posting of documents for retrieval.

Donna is also responsible for the Consolidation Chart, a project started back in 2011 to track and visually organize the industry's heritage.  A huge undertaking, she and Joann McCarty worked together on researching, gathering historical information and creating the chart that is based off of the CropLife magazine's Top 100 list, which started back in 1984.  She has continued to follow the companies and publish an annual update each year since, and this year marks her eighth chart due out in January 2020.

In addition to being Customer Service Lead, Donna also works closely with our state and national association affiliates as the Manager of Affiliate Relations.  She helps them in their efforts to support their members and be a resource for their needs.  Donna has traveled thousands of miles every year to attend tradeshows to meet up with clients to thank them for their business.  Most have likely seen her out and about attending affiliate functions or talked with her when calling our office.  Donna is hard to forget once you've met or talked with her.  She's a ray of sunshine that will brighten your day each and every time you talk with her.

Donna is married to her husband Rodney, has four grown sons and a new grandson, and two fun-loving pups named Magic and Molly.  All of which she is thankful, grateful and blessed to have in her life every day!

EPA Finalizes Changes to RMP Amendments

EPA has issued the Risk Management Program (RMP) Reconsideration Final Rule.  The amendments reduce regulatory burdens on facilities and emergency responders and harmonize with OSHA's Process Safety Management (PSM) standard.

Major provisions that were added in the RMP Amendments rule, but are now rescinded, include:
  • Requirement to hire a third party to conduct the compliance audit after an RMP reportable accident
  • Requirement to assess theoretically safer technology and alternative risk management measures
  • Requirement to conduct and document a root cause analysis after an RMP reportable accident or near miss
  • Information very broadly defined must be made available by the facility to the public on request
Many other requirements were either retained or modified.  The requirement that facilities must coordinate annually with local response organizations and document the coordination activities was retained.  Modifications were made to enable emergency response planners to obtain information "necessary for" planning and implementation of local emergency response plans.  The requirements for annual notification drills and field and tabletop exercises were retained.  The frequency of field exercises was modified to require consulting with local emergency response officials to establish an appropriate frequency.

The requirement that a facility must hold a public meeting within 90 days of accident with an offsite impact was retained with modifications.  The final RMP Reconsideration Rule rescinds the requirement for an owner or operator to provide, within 45 days of receiving a request by any member of the public, specified chemical hazard information for all regulated processes.  Click here to read EPA's news release or here for more information.

Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Up Only a Penny

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 34th annual survey indicates the average holiday dinner is up just one cent from last year's average.  This year's Thanksgiving dinner for a family of 10 will cost $48.91, still less than $5 a head.  The shopping list for the survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee and milk - all in quantities to serve a family of 10 with plenty of leftovers. The centerpiece on most tables and biggest cost is, of course, the bird.  A 16-pound turkey costs $20.80, which is slightly less than last year, and the lowest retail price since 2010.

According to the survey, despite the growing popularity of prepared foods, the vast majority of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving at home or at a family member's home and cook their entire meal at home. A new AFBF survey revealed that most Americans were surprised to learn that the farmers' share of the food dollar is so small.  AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton said, “Americans continue to enjoy the most affordable food supply in the world, but most don’t realize only 8 cents of every dollar consumers spend on food goes to farmers.”

After adjusting for inflation, the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $19.13, down slightly from 2018 according to the AFBF.

Watch for EPA's Reminder on Pesticide-Production Reports

EPA has sent their reminder blast out to all Pesticide Producing Establishments.  As a friendly reminder, Asmark Institute handles this on behalf of our clients so there is no action required on the locations part. EPA is simply sending a reminder to complete the Annual Pesticide Production Report and encouraging the use of their electronic reporting system. 

As usual, Asmark Institute will produce the reports from the information submitted during the annual compliance visit and send a draft copy for review and signature to the location after the first of the year. Asmark will then file electronically using EPA's electronic reporting system, Central Data Exchange (CDX), prior to the March 1st deadline.  A final copy of the submission will be provided to each location once filed along with confirmation.  For any questions, please contact Tiffany at 270-926-4600 Ext. 209 or tiffany@asmark.org.

New ERG Coming in 2020

The familiar little orange guidebook, originally developed for emergency responders, has become a basic staple of compliance for anyone transporting hazardous materials.  A copy of the Emergency Response Guidebook, commonly referred to as ERG, should be placed in each vehicle that transports a DOT hazardous material.  The guidebooks will be updated and published with a 2020 date.

As we have in the past, Asmark has pre-ordered a truckload to get the very best pricing and will be taking orders during the annual compliance visits this fall.  Make sure to order your copies prior to March 1st to get the pre-sale price.  The 2020 ERGs will ship as soon as the government releases the final version, which is expected sometime in the first quarter of 2020.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

More than 2,500 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 1,300 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to: www.responsibleag.org

Recordkeeping Made Easy!

Vehicle Maintenance Central (VMC) is an online module, that originally debuted back in 2011, which allows facility personnel to electronically manage the maintenance of all vehicles typically found at a retail facility.  To date, there are nearly 26,000  vehicles being managed through VMC.  The feature uses the colorful stoplight mechanism to notify you when maintenance items are coming due, as well as use of a SMART Card system to help streamline the documentation of the actual maintenance process. Each time a SMART Card is entered on a unit, you are given the opportunity to attach the relevant documents for that service.  Have documents you need to upload for a previously entered SMART Card?  Each SMART Card record has an upload feature, which allows documents to be added after the initial entry.

An added bonus to VMC is the tracking of Anhydrous Ammonia nurse wagons.  NTIP inspections can be incorporated into the VMC module so the maintenance and inspection of all vehicles can be accessed from one convenient place.  Users are encouraged to reference the VMC instructions located at the top of the VMC page, as this is the only feature on our website with its own instruction manual!  Have questions or want to learn more?  Give Cassandra a call at 270-926-4600 Ext. 212 or email her at cassandra@asmark.org and she'll be happy to help.

Thanksgiving Came a Little Bit Early for the Driver File Department

With another new compliance season well on its way, the Driver File Department is once again giving thanks as they celebrate the end of the 2019 Annual Review process!  Annually, between the months of July and November, Ashley, Morgan and Kendal review every one of the DOT files to ensure your drivers stay qualified and active on the road.

With over 11,000 active driver files to be reviewed, the gals in the Driver File Department sign their names more than any professional athlete would in a five month period.  We would like to thank all of the locations for their timely response in completing the necessary paperwork to make this another successful review season!

Minnesota Temporarily Lifts Hours of Service Restrictions

Due to a wet spring, followed by a cold and wet fall, corn and soybean harvest has been significantly delayed in Minnesota.  Governor Tim Walz has issued an executive order declaring an emergency and lifting regulations on motor carriers and drivers to alleviate the strain on farmers in western Minnesota during a particularly difficult harvest season.

The order lifts restrictions on drivers and carriers transporting propane and liquid fuels to provide direct assistance and alleviate the fuel shortage in the area.  Motor carriers are reminded that no fatigued or ill driver should be allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle.  The order remains in effect for 30 days, or until direct assistance has ended, whichever occurs first.  Click here to view the executive order.

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.

Season's Greetings!

As we enter into the holiday season, all of us at the Asmark Institute would like to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year. We appreciate the relationships that have been developed between our organizations over the years and especially the opportunity to have worked with you in 2019!

Entry Level Driver Training Delay Expected to be Announced

The following article may be of interest as we know many are watching and preparing to comply with the new Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) requirements.  With the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMCSA) rule becoming effective February 7, 2020 this is a timely matter.  This hasn't been in the official Federal Register yet, however this information indicates a potential two-year delay for implementation is coming soon.  Click here to read more.

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed...All Year Long!

These three words not only describe the feelings most experience around Thanksgiving, but also the wonderful attitude and spirit of Donna Jones, our Customer Service Lead.  Donna has a genuinely positive outlook, leaving others feeling the same all year round with her infectious smile and service-oriented nature.

Donna started with the Asmark Institute over a decade ago in 2006, where she worked in the driver file department for the first couple of years.  She was one on a team of two that, at the time, managed close to 10,000 files.  As Asmark grew, it was apparent that our clients would benefit from having a customer service person that could assist with a variety of their needs and questions and also streamline calls for other departments.  Donna's upbeat and naturally helpful personality made her the perfect person to start the customer service team.  Through this position she grew not only the department, which now has two others that she leads, but also her own knowledge and understanding of our clients and Asmark's services.  By listening to clients' questions, she was able to provide valuable input in developing several key functions of Snapshots, such as the archive feature and posting of documents for retrieval.

Donna is also responsible for the Consolidation Chart, a project started back in 2011 to track and visually organize the industry's heritage.  A huge undertaking, she and Joann McCarty worked together on researching, gathering historical information and creating the chart that is based off of the CropLife magazine's Top 100 list, which started back in 1984.  She has continued to follow the companies and publish an annual update each year since, and this year marks her eighth chart due out in January 2020.

In addition to being Customer Service Lead, Donna also works closely with our state and national association affiliates as the Manager of Affiliate Relations.  She helps them in their efforts to support their members and be a resource for their needs.  Donna has traveled thousands of miles every year to attend tradeshows to meet up with clients to thank them for their business.  Most have likely seen her out and about attending affiliate functions or talked with her when calling our office.  Donna is hard to forget once you've met or talked with her.  She's a ray of sunshine that will brighten your day each and every time you talk with her.

Donna is married to her husband Rodney, has four grown sons and a new grandson, and two fun-loving pups named Magic and Molly.  All of which she is thankful, grateful and blessed to have in her life every day!

EPA Finalizes Changes to RMP Amendments

EPA has issued the Risk Management Program (RMP) Reconsideration Final Rule.  The amendments reduce regulatory burdens on facilities and emergency responders and harmonize with OSHA's Process Safety Management (PSM) standard.

Major provisions that were added in the RMP Amendments rule, but are now rescinded, include:
  • Requirement to hire a third party to conduct the compliance audit after an RMP reportable accident
  • Requirement to assess theoretically safer technology and alternative risk management measures
  • Requirement to conduct and document a root cause analysis after an RMP reportable accident or near miss
  • Information very broadly defined must be made available by the facility to the public on request
Many other requirements were either retained or modified.  The requirement that facilities must coordinate annually with local response organizations and document the coordination activities was retained.  Modifications were made to enable emergency response planners to obtain information "necessary for" planning and implementation of local emergency response plans.  The requirements for annual notification drills and field and tabletop exercises were retained.  The frequency of field exercises was modified to require consulting with local emergency response officials to establish an appropriate frequency.

The requirement that a facility must hold a public meeting within 90 days of accident with an offsite impact was retained with modifications.  The final RMP Reconsideration Rule rescinds the requirement for an owner or operator to provide, within 45 days of receiving a request by any member of the public, specified chemical hazard information for all regulated processes.  Click here to read EPA's news release or here for more information.

Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Up Only a Penny

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 34th annual survey indicates the average holiday dinner is up just one cent from last year's average.  This year's Thanksgiving dinner for a family of 10 will cost $48.91, still less than $5 a head.  The shopping list for the survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee and milk - all in quantities to serve a family of 10 with plenty of leftovers. The centerpiece on most tables and biggest cost is, of course, the bird.  A 16-pound turkey costs $20.80, which is slightly less than last year, and the lowest retail price since 2010.

According to the survey, despite the growing popularity of prepared foods, the vast majority of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving at home or at a family member's home and cook their entire meal at home. A new AFBF survey revealed that most Americans were surprised to learn that the farmers' share of the food dollar is so small.  AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton said, “Americans continue to enjoy the most affordable food supply in the world, but most don’t realize only 8 cents of every dollar consumers spend on food goes to farmers.”

After adjusting for inflation, the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $19.13, down slightly from 2018 according to the AFBF.

Watch for EPA's Reminder on Pesticide-Production Reports

EPA has sent their reminder blast out to all Pesticide Producing Establishments.  As a friendly reminder, Asmark Institute handles this on behalf of our clients so there is no action required on the locations part. EPA is simply sending a reminder to complete the Annual Pesticide Production Report and encouraging the use of their electronic reporting system. 

As usual, Asmark Institute will produce the reports from the information submitted during the annual compliance visit and send a draft copy for review and signature to the location after the first of the year. Asmark will then file electronically using EPA's electronic reporting system, Central Data Exchange (CDX), prior to the March 1st deadline.  A final copy of the submission will be provided to each location once filed along with confirmation.  For any questions, please contact Tiffany at 270-926-4600 Ext. 209 or tiffany@asmark.org.

New ERG Coming in 2020

The familiar little orange guidebook, originally developed for emergency responders, has become a basic staple of compliance for anyone transporting hazardous materials.  A copy of the Emergency Response Guidebook, commonly referred to as ERG, should be placed in each vehicle that transports a DOT hazardous material.  The guidebooks will be updated and published with a 2020 date.

As we have in the past, Asmark has pre-ordered a truckload to get the very best pricing and will be taking orders during the annual compliance visits this fall.  Make sure to order your copies prior to March 1st to get the pre-sale price.  The 2020 ERGs will ship as soon as the government releases the final version, which is expected sometime in the first quarter of 2020.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

More than 2,500 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 1,300 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to: www.responsibleag.org

Recordkeeping Made Easy!

Vehicle Maintenance Central (VMC) is an online module, that originally debuted back in 2011, which allows facility personnel to electronically manage the maintenance of all vehicles typically found at a retail facility.  To date, there are nearly 26,000  vehicles being managed through VMC.  The feature uses the colorful stoplight mechanism to notify you when maintenance items are coming due, as well as use of a SMART Card system to help streamline the documentation of the actual maintenance process. Each time a SMART Card is entered on a unit, you are given the opportunity to attach the relevant documents for that service.  Have documents you need to upload for a previously entered SMART Card?  Each SMART Card record has an upload feature, which allows documents to be added after the initial entry.

An added bonus to VMC is the tracking of Anhydrous Ammonia nurse wagons.  NTIP inspections can be incorporated into the VMC module so the maintenance and inspection of all vehicles can be accessed from one convenient place.  Users are encouraged to reference the VMC instructions located at the top of the VMC page, as this is the only feature on our website with its own instruction manual!  Have questions or want to learn more?  Give Cassandra a call at 270-926-4600 Ext. 212 or email her at cassandra@asmark.org and she'll be happy to help.

Thanksgiving Came a Little Bit Early for the Driver File Department

With another new compliance season well on its way, the Driver File Department is once again giving thanks as they celebrate the end of the 2019 Annual Review process!  Annually, between the months of July and November, Ashley, Morgan and Kendal review every one of the DOT files to ensure your drivers stay qualified and active on the road.

With over 11,000 active driver files to be reviewed, the gals in the Driver File Department sign their names more than any professional athlete would in a five month period.  We would like to thank all of the locations for their timely response in completing the necessary paperwork to make this another successful review season!

Minnesota Temporarily Lifts Hours of Service Restrictions

Due to a wet spring, followed by a cold and wet fall, corn and soybean harvest has been significantly delayed in Minnesota.  Governor Tim Walz has issued an executive order declaring an emergency and lifting regulations on motor carriers and drivers to alleviate the strain on farmers in western Minnesota during a particularly difficult harvest season.

The order lifts restrictions on drivers and carriers transporting propane and liquid fuels to provide direct assistance and alleviate the fuel shortage in the area.  Motor carriers are reminded that no fatigued or ill driver should be allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle.  The order remains in effect for 30 days, or until direct assistance has ended, whichever occurs first.  Click here to view the executive order.

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.