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Newsletter
Volume 205
December 1, 2020

Season's Greetings!

As we enter the holiday season and reflect on all of the unique challenges and opportunities 2020 has gifted the world with, we'd like to wish all of our clients, affiliates, partners and friends a most joyful and Merry Christmas. Although the world feels and looks very different than it did a year ago, one thing remains the same - our appreciation for the relationships that have been built and the opportunity to work in such a wonderful industry with the best people!

5 Helpful Tips for a Successful Compliance Wizard

With Compliance Season in full swing, below are 5 Helpful Tips to help set yourself up for a smooth and successful journey through the Compliance Wizard tool:
  1. Print and complete the SARA and/or PPR worksheets ahead of time;
  2. If the person completing the Wizard is not the person who orders/handles product inventory, make sure to check with the person who does to provide the most accurate information;
  3. Make sure you know your website login credentials to access the facility's Compliance Wizard;
  4. Ensure your web browser is current, updated and compatible with our website (i.e. Chrome, Firefox or Safari)  - (Note: Internet Explorer is no longer a valid browser and cannot be used on Asmark's website); and
  5. Review your Handi-Plan information carefully for any changes/updates needed (i.e. people changes, phone number changes, etc.)
If you have any questions before you begin the Compliance Wizard, feel free to reach out to one of our Customer Service team members at 270-926-4600 Ext 506 or customerservice@asmark.org.  They're happy to help!

Working "Responsibly" as a Team Player

Andrew Carnegie once said, "teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives."  Chelsea Owen, who has been a part of the Asmark Institute family since 2014, understands the importance and value of this statement well.  As the Program Manager for ResponsibleAg, Chelsea handles all of the administrative functions for the program, mans the helpdesk and ensures everything runs smoothly.  From producing audit packets for facilities and auditors as they prepare to conduct audits, to managing the credentialing process for auditors and the auditor training course, Chelsea coordinates the organization's objectives to serve the industry in helping agribusinesses properly store and handle farm input supplies.

Mid-November as the ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Course was being held at Asmark Institute's Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, it seems only fitting that Chelsea celebrated her six-year anniversary as part of the Asmark Institute family.  She's been involved in various capacities with ResponsibleAg since its inception, but recently took over the role of Program Manager this summer.  She has spent countless hours preparing the last several weeks to ensure the file cabinet documentation was updated and accurate, working towards checking every detail to ensure a great participant experience.  She is a great resource in explaining the ResponsibleAg program and working with facilities as they strive to become ResponsibleAg certified.

Just as everyone at Asmark wears many hats, so does she.  This time of year is a busy one around Asmark with Compliance Wizard submissions.  In addition to her responsibilities with the ResponsibleAg program, Chelsea also handles drawing and making site plan updates and printing/shipping wallet card orders.  Prior to being the Program Manager for ResponsibleAg, Chelsea worked in our Training Department, generating over 60,000 training certificates monthly and assisting in their return process.

Chelsea and her husband Matt have three children - Averie-12, Arthur-7 and Annora-3.  They enjoy spending time outdoors - whether it be going on nature walks or playing soccer.  It isn't often that she has time to herself as a mother of three, but when she does she loves to read.  Chelsea wears a lot of hats at home and at Asmark!

Annual Clearinghouse Query Deadline Approaches

Employers of CDL drivers must conduct a query of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse at least once per year for each CDL driver they employ.  The annual query requirement is tracked on a rolling 12-month basis, and the one-year time frame resets with each query conducted on a driver.  The deadline to meet the annual query requirement is January 5, 2021.  A limited query satisfies the annual query requirement.  Employers must obtain a general consent from CDL drivers they employ before conducting limited queries in the Clearinghouse.

Learn more about the Clearinghouse by checking out the Compliance Assistance Library to ensure you stay on top of the requirements for both the Pre-Employment and Limited Queries for your CDL drivers.  If you have any questions, please reach out to our Customer Service Team at 270-926-4600 Ext 506 or customerservice@asmark.org.

Note: If your company uses the Asmark integrated system for third party administration (TPA), we obtain and track the General Consent Form for each of your CDL drivers. The information on CDL drivers is then passed along to Forward Edge & Associates, the integrated TPA, to conduct the annual queries within the 12-month time frame.

Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Down 4% - Lowest Since 2010

Thanksgiving gatherings may have looked different for many this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gatherings were likely fewer and farther between, with social distancing and may even included remote family get-togethers. One tradition that continued this year was the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual cost survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table. Farm Bureau’s 35th annual survey indicated the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving feast for 10 remained affordable at $46.90 or less than $5.00 per person. This is a $2.01 decrease from last year’s average of $48.91.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers. Turkeys, the centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables, were down 7% at $19.39 for a 16-pound bird. In addition to turkey, foods that showed slight price declines include whipping cream and sweet potatoes. Foods showing modest increases this year included dinner rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pumpkin pie mix. After adjusting for inflation, the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $18.01, down slightly from last year.

How It's Made  - The Asmark Institute Annual SDS Manual

For the past 22 years, Asmark Institute has created and published the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) Reference Manual, which is specifically designed for Agrichemical facilities.  The book contains products ranging from chemicals, fertilizers, fuels, oils, paints, gases, adjuvants, shop materials and many others.  Every December, the newest version of the SDS manuals are shipped to our clients, and this year is no exception.  Not even a world-wide pandemic can stop the presses or production of the 22nd edition, 2021 SDS Book.

So how does a stack of 850+ multiple page safety data sheets of about 4,000 pages get compiled into one 1,880 page manual?  With a lot of hard work and a little magic, it's a multiple step process that begins in the summer and concludes mid-November involving a small team of people.  Each August, work begins by gathering the original manufacturer Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for thousands of current products handled and stored by agrichemical facilities.  It involves 2-3 people and several weeks of hunting and investigating to source, identify and match the most current SDSs available.  Much of the information and our primary source for SDSs of agrichemical products comes from Crop Data Management Systems (CDMS).  Asmark Institute has a long-standing alliance with (CDMS) who is the most reliable, accurate source of SDSs, labels and data.  Not only does Asmark utilize CDMS for SDSs and Labels, but also has an integrated process for data comparison, helping us keep the agrichemical data stored in our ProFiles database current with manufacturer approved data.  For the other materials such as fuels, oils, paints, shop materials and such, we go directly to the manufacturers to obtain current SDSs.

Once all of the original manufacturer SDSs are retrieved, the process of determining which products should be included in the manual happens.  It's not easy and we certainly can't fit everything in the manual, but we try to identify the most commonly and widely used products and prioritize accordingly.  The original SDSs are then converted into the easy-to-read, 3-column format, you see in every edition of the manual.  This format allows as many products as possible to be included in the book and takes 6-7 dedicated, detail-orientated and accurately focused team members, several weeks to convert every SDS.

In early November, once all conversions are completed, we begin working to compile, edit and proof the final manual files before sending them to the Marquis printing company in Canada to produce and print the perfect-bound manuals.  We've worked with the same printing company, who has changed names a couple of times, for over twenty years.  Finished books arrive at the Asmark Institute headquarters in Owensboro, KY in mid-December, and from there it's all hands on deck.  Within 24 hours of their arrival, over 10,000 books are repackaged and shipped by the Asmark team via UPS, so that agricultural retailers all across the nation receive their SDS manual just in time for the new year.

Agricultural Commodity Definition Clarified

DOT announced that it is has published a final rule clarifying the agricultural commodity definition in the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.  Currently, during harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the HOS requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150-air-mile radius from the source.  DOT has published this new rule to clarify the meaning of these existing terms to ensure that the HOS exemptions are utilized as Congress intended.

Agricultural commodity means any agricultural commodity, non-processed food, feed, fiber or livestock.  As used in this definition, the term "any agricultural commodity" means horticultural products at risk of perishing, or degrading in quality, during transport by commercial motor vehicle, including plants, sod, flowers, shrubs, ornamentals, seedlings, live trees and Christmas trees.  The definition of "livestock" is now also revised to include "all living animals cultivated, grown, or raised for commercial purposes, including aquatic animals." And "non-processed foods" is clarified to mean food commodities in a raw or natural state and not subjected to significant post-harvest changes to enhance shelf life such as canning, jarring, freezing, or drying.

EPA Finalizes AEZ Changes

EPA has finalized changes to requirements for the pesticide application exclusion zone (AEZ) - the area surrounding pesticide application equipment that exists during outdoor pesticide applications.  AEZ requirements now only apply within the boundaries of the agricultural establishment, removing off-farm responsibilities that were difficult for state regulators to enforce.  Immediate family members of farm owners are now exempted from all aspects of the AEZ requirements.  Farm owners and their immediate family are able to shelter in place inside closed buildings, giving farm owners and immediate family members flexibility to decide whether to stay on-site during pesticide applications, rather than compelling them to leave even when they feel safe remaining.

New clarifying language has been added so that pesticide applications that are suspended due to individuals entering an AEZ may be resumed after those individuals have left the AEZ.  Lastly, the criteria to determine whether pesticide applications are subject to the 25 or 100-foot AEZ has been simplified.  No changes were made to the “Do Not Contact” provision that prohibits a handler or applicator and the handler’s employer from applying a pesticide in such a way that it contacts workers or other persons directly or through drift.

Electric Vehicles Negative Economic Impact on Ag Industry

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) has released a study that analyzes the impacts of increased electric vehicle penetration on US biofuels, agriculture and the economy. The study reveals how proposals to ban internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035 and 2050 would have a disproportionate impact on US biofuels and agriculture.  Findings include US light-duty and freight vehicle consumption of ethanol and biodiesel could decline up to 90 percent to 1.1 billion gallons and up to 61 percent to 0.8 billion gallons, respectively.  Overall, US net farm income would decrease by up to $27 billion due to a proposed ban.  Further, the study shows that US job losses could total over 250,000 in 2050. To read the study findings, click here.

Footnote Changes State Pesticide Restrictions

In a change for state regulators, EPA will no longer allow states to further restrict federal pesticide labels through the use of FIFRA Section 24(c), the “special local needs” permits.  While expansions may still be allowed under Section 24(c), restrictions will not.  Instead, any additional restrictions must be done through Section 24(a).  This will require a slower process, making it harder for states to further restrict the federal label. Essentially, if a state wants to impose more restrictions than the federal label, as some states have previously done with earlier cut off dates for dicamba, the state regulators will have to go through a state law or rulemaking process.  Some states, like Arkansas, already have a cutoff date for dicamba application that will likely not be affected by the policy change because they have already gone through a state rulemaking process instead of being authorized through a 24(c) permit.  Other states that wish to impose additional restrictions to federally registered pesticides may still be able to do the same.

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 the holiday season and reflect on all of the unique challenges and opportunities 2020 has gifted the world with, we'd like to wish all of our clients, affiliates, partners and friends a most joyful and Merry Christmas. Although the world feels and looks very different than it did a year ago, one thing remains the same - our appreciation for the relationships that have been built and the opportunity to work in such a wonderful industry with the best people!

5 Helpful Tips for a Successful Compliance Wizard

With Compliance Season in full swing, below are 5 Helpful Tips to help set yourself up for a smooth and successful journey through the Compliance Wizard tool:
  1. Print and complete the SARA and/or PPR worksheets ahead of time;
  2. If the person completing the Wizard is not the person who orders/handles product inventory, make sure to check with the person who does to provide the most accurate information;
  3. Make sure you know your website login credentials to access the facility's Compliance Wizard;
  4. Ensure your web browser is current, updated and compatible with our website (i.e. Chrome, Firefox or Safari)  - (Note: Internet Explorer is no longer a valid browser and cannot be used on Asmark's website); and
  5. Review your Handi-Plan information carefully for any changes/updates needed (i.e. people changes, phone number changes, etc.)
If you have any questions before you begin the Compliance Wizard, feel free to reach out to one of our Customer Service team members at 270-926-4600 Ext 506 or customerservice@asmark.org.  They're happy to help!

Working "Responsibly" as a Team Player

Andrew Carnegie once said, "teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives."  Chelsea Owen, who has been a part of the Asmark Institute family since 2014, understands the importance and value of this statement well.  As the Program Manager for ResponsibleAg, Chelsea handles all of the administrative functions for the program, mans the helpdesk and ensures everything runs smoothly.  From producing audit packets for facilities and auditors as they prepare to conduct audits, to managing the credentialing process for auditors and the auditor training course, Chelsea coordinates the organization's objectives to serve the industry in helping agribusinesses properly store and handle farm input supplies.

Mid-November as the ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Course was being held at Asmark Institute's Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, it seems only fitting that Chelsea celebrated her six-year anniversary as part of the Asmark Institute family.  She's been involved in various capacities with ResponsibleAg since its inception, but recently took over the role of Program Manager this summer.  She has spent countless hours preparing the last several weeks to ensure the file cabinet documentation was updated and accurate, working towards checking every detail to ensure a great participant experience.  She is a great resource in explaining the ResponsibleAg program and working with facilities as they strive to become ResponsibleAg certified.

Just as everyone at Asmark wears many hats, so does she.  This time of year is a busy one around Asmark with Compliance Wizard submissions.  In addition to her responsibilities with the ResponsibleAg program, Chelsea also handles drawing and making site plan updates and printing/shipping wallet card orders.  Prior to being the Program Manager for ResponsibleAg, Chelsea worked in our Training Department, generating over 60,000 training certificates monthly and assisting in their return process.

Chelsea and her husband Matt have three children - Averie-12, Arthur-7 and Annora-3.  They enjoy spending time outdoors - whether it be going on nature walks or playing soccer.  It isn't often that she has time to herself as a mother of three, but when she does she loves to read.  Chelsea wears a lot of hats at home and at Asmark!

Annual Clearinghouse Query Deadline Approaches

Employers of CDL drivers must conduct a query of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse at least once per year for each CDL driver they employ.  The annual query requirement is tracked on a rolling 12-month basis, and the one-year time frame resets with each query conducted on a driver.  The deadline to meet the annual query requirement is January 5, 2021.  A limited query satisfies the annual query requirement.  Employers must obtain a general consent from CDL drivers they employ before conducting limited queries in the Clearinghouse.

Learn more about the Clearinghouse by checking out the Compliance Assistance Library to ensure you stay on top of the requirements for both the Pre-Employment and Limited Queries for your CDL drivers.  If you have any questions, please reach out to our Customer Service Team at 270-926-4600 Ext 506 or customerservice@asmark.org.

Note: If your company uses the Asmark integrated system for third party administration (TPA), we obtain and track the General Consent Form for each of your CDL drivers. The information on CDL drivers is then passed along to Forward Edge & Associates, the integrated TPA, to conduct the annual queries within the 12-month time frame.

Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Down 4% - Lowest Since 2010

Thanksgiving gatherings may have looked different for many this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gatherings were likely fewer and farther between, with social distancing and may even included remote family get-togethers. One tradition that continued this year was the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual cost survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table. Farm Bureau’s 35th annual survey indicated the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving feast for 10 remained affordable at $46.90 or less than $5.00 per person. This is a $2.01 decrease from last year’s average of $48.91.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers. Turkeys, the centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables, were down 7% at $19.39 for a 16-pound bird. In addition to turkey, foods that showed slight price declines include whipping cream and sweet potatoes. Foods showing modest increases this year included dinner rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pumpkin pie mix. After adjusting for inflation, the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $18.01, down slightly from last year.

How It's Made  - The Asmark Institute Annual SDS Manual

For the past 22 years, Asmark Institute has created and published the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) Reference Manual, which is specifically designed for Agrichemical facilities.  The book contains products ranging from chemicals, fertilizers, fuels, oils, paints, gases, adjuvants, shop materials and many others.  Every December, the newest version of the SDS manuals are shipped to our clients, and this year is no exception.  Not even a world-wide pandemic can stop the presses or production of the 22nd edition, 2021 SDS Book.

So how does a stack of 850+ multiple page safety data sheets of about 4,000 pages get compiled into one 1,880 page manual?  With a lot of hard work and a little magic, it's a multiple step process that begins in the summer and concludes mid-November involving a small team of people.  Each August, work begins by gathering the original manufacturer Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for thousands of current products handled and stored by agrichemical facilities.  It involves 2-3 people and several weeks of hunting and investigating to source, identify and match the most current SDSs available.  Much of the information and our primary source for SDSs of agrichemical products comes from Crop Data Management Systems (CDMS).  Asmark Institute has a long-standing alliance with (CDMS) who is the most reliable, accurate source of SDSs, labels and data.  Not only does Asmark utilize CDMS for SDSs and Labels, but also has an integrated process for data comparison, helping us keep the agrichemical data stored in our ProFiles database current with manufacturer approved data.  For the other materials such as fuels, oils, paints, shop materials and such, we go directly to the manufacturers to obtain current SDSs.

Once all of the original manufacturer SDSs are retrieved, the process of determining which products should be included in the manual happens.  It's not easy and we certainly can't fit everything in the manual, but we try to identify the most commonly and widely used products and prioritize accordingly.  The original SDSs are then converted into the easy-to-read, 3-column format, you see in every edition of the manual.  This format allows as many products as possible to be included in the book and takes 6-7 dedicated, detail-orientated and accurately focused team members, several weeks to convert every SDS.

In early November, once all conversions are completed, we begin working to compile, edit and proof the final manual files before sending them to the Marquis printing company in Canada to produce and print the perfect-bound manuals.  We've worked with the same printing company, who has changed names a couple of times, for over twenty years.  Finished books arrive at the Asmark Institute headquarters in Owensboro, KY in mid-December, and from there it's all hands on deck.  Within 24 hours of their arrival, over 10,000 books are repackaged and shipped by the Asmark team via UPS, so that agricultural retailers all across the nation receive their SDS manual just in time for the new year.

Agricultural Commodity Definition Clarified

DOT announced that it is has published a final rule clarifying the agricultural commodity definition in the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.  Currently, during harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the HOS requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150-air-mile radius from the source.  DOT has published this new rule to clarify the meaning of these existing terms to ensure that the HOS exemptions are utilized as Congress intended.

Agricultural commodity means any agricultural commodity, non-processed food, feed, fiber or livestock.  As used in this definition, the term "any agricultural commodity" means horticultural products at risk of perishing, or degrading in quality, during transport by commercial motor vehicle, including plants, sod, flowers, shrubs, ornamentals, seedlings, live trees and Christmas trees.  The definition of "livestock" is now also revised to include "all living animals cultivated, grown, or raised for commercial purposes, including aquatic animals." And "non-processed foods" is clarified to mean food commodities in a raw or natural state and not subjected to significant post-harvest changes to enhance shelf life such as canning, jarring, freezing, or drying.

EPA Finalizes AEZ Changes

EPA has finalized changes to requirements for the pesticide application exclusion zone (AEZ) - the area surrounding pesticide application equipment that exists during outdoor pesticide applications.  AEZ requirements now only apply within the boundaries of the agricultural establishment, removing off-farm responsibilities that were difficult for state regulators to enforce.  Immediate family members of farm owners are now exempted from all aspects of the AEZ requirements.  Farm owners and their immediate family are able to shelter in place inside closed buildings, giving farm owners and immediate family members flexibility to decide whether to stay on-site during pesticide applications, rather than compelling them to leave even when they feel safe remaining.

New clarifying language has been added so that pesticide applications that are suspended due to individuals entering an AEZ may be resumed after those individuals have left the AEZ.  Lastly, the criteria to determine whether pesticide applications are subject to the 25 or 100-foot AEZ has been simplified.  No changes were made to the “Do Not Contact” provision that prohibits a handler or applicator and the handler’s employer from applying a pesticide in such a way that it contacts workers or other persons directly or through drift.

Electric Vehicles Negative Economic Impact on Ag Industry

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) has released a study that analyzes the impacts of increased electric vehicle penetration on US biofuels, agriculture and the economy. The study reveals how proposals to ban internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035 and 2050 would have a disproportionate impact on US biofuels and agriculture.  Findings include US light-duty and freight vehicle consumption of ethanol and biodiesel could decline up to 90 percent to 1.1 billion gallons and up to 61 percent to 0.8 billion gallons, respectively.  Overall, US net farm income would decrease by up to $27 billion due to a proposed ban.  Further, the study shows that US job losses could total over 250,000 in 2050. To read the study findings, click here.

Footnote Changes State Pesticide Restrictions

In a change for state regulators, EPA will no longer allow states to further restrict federal pesticide labels through the use of FIFRA Section 24(c), the “special local needs” permits.  While expansions may still be allowed under Section 24(c), restrictions will not.  Instead, any additional restrictions must be done through Section 24(a).  This will require a slower process, making it harder for states to further restrict the federal label. Essentially, if a state wants to impose more restrictions than the federal label, as some states have previously done with earlier cut off dates for dicamba, the state regulators will have to go through a state law or rulemaking process.  Some states, like Arkansas, already have a cutoff date for dicamba application that will likely not be affected by the policy change because they have already gone through a state rulemaking process instead of being authorized through a 24(c) permit.  Other states that wish to impose additional restrictions to federally registered pesticides may still be able to do the same.

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.