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Newsletter
Volume 91
June 1, 2011
Strategic Plan for the Future
Plans For the Future
Front row: Brian Miller (Agrium), Susan Summers (A.I.), Amber Duke (A.I.), Denis Doonan (CPS), Melissa Iskra (A.I.), Marie Cook (Alabama Farmers Coop). Back row: Billy Pirkle (Crop Production Services), Daren Coppock (ARA), Bill Welter (Adaptive Strategies), Allen Summers (A.I.), Jean Payne (IFCA), Ford West (TFI), Keith Fricke (Sunrise Ag Service), David Martin (Tennessee Farmers Coop), Lloyd Burling (A.I.), Brian Mason (A.I.) and Randy Lawrence (A.I.).
On May 11-13th, the Board of Directors of the Asmark Institute and other leaders of the industry met in White Sulphur Springs, WV to discuss the organization's strategic plan for the next five years. Prior to the meeting, participants were surveyed individually for information essential to the planning process. The results of the initial interviews helped guide the discussion at the two-day meeting. The session was led by Bill Welter with Adapt Strategies of Chicago, IL, and included spirited discussion on the current environment for agriculture, trends, implications, partners and the Institute's foundation at the intersection of agricultural retailers, state and national associations and state and federal regulators. The group worked to provide guidance for the Institute and define what success would look like for the organization in 2016.
Lloyd Burling Honored at Reception & Dinner
For almost 50 years of service and his work on behalf of the Asmark Institute, Lloyd Burling was honored at a reception and dinner held at the Greenbrier Hotel. Lloyd is known widely for his contribution to agriculture and his years as a person that brings people together. We appreciate having Lloyd as a valued part of the team, as we formed the Institute more than six years ago. Lloyd Burling Honored His wisdom and work will carry on to influence our direction in the future. We wish Lloyd and his wife Bobbie the very best that retirement has to offer. While this is retirement number two for Lloyd, future plans may include a few public appearances every now and then. Congratulations Lloyd and thank you for all you have accomplished on behalf of the Asmark Institute and the ag industry! Pictured above is Lloyd and Bobbie Burling talking with Billy Pirkle (CPS).
Federal DOT Seeks to Define "Implement of Husbandry"
If you are like most in rural agricultural states, you have heard and maybe been involved in enforcement actions regarding implements of husbandry - you know those pieces of equipment designed to transport seed, liquid and dry fertilizers and other commodities to and from the fields we service as an important part of production agriculture. DOT has ramped up its enforcement effort over the past three years and the war over lights, brakes, inspections and all of the other requirements associated with these types of equipment has been fought one battle at a time over the many states. DOT wants to treat this type of equipment as Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV), citing there is no federal definition for an implement of husbandry. Most states don't have a definition either.
Over the past few months, a particularly interesting issue arose in Illinois with DOT regarding farmers that haul grain under a crop share arrangement to elevators that may export. DOT recently informed the Illinois ag industry that delivery of grain to elevators with a tractor and wagon was considered to be interstate commerce, thus requiring the tractor and wagon to be CMVs. By the most strict interpretation, a farmer delivering grain (using a farm tractor and wagon) to an elevator that may export the product elsewhere, is considered by DOT to be part of the interstate commerce system. So in a nutshell, hauling the landlord's grain under a crop share agreement makes the farmer a for-hire carrier and subjects them to all aspects of the DOT regulations. This issue opened the door and may provide the traction necessary to gain a federal definition for implements of husbandry.
The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, headed up by Jean Payne and Kevin Runkle, helped organize an appeal from Illinois Congressmen to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. The appeal evidently caught the attention of Secretary LaHood as DOT issued a Notice in the Tuesday, May 31st Federal Register requesting public comment on how they should define implements of husbandry and other agricultural movements in federal law. IFCA is working with Farm Bureau, The Fertilizer Institute and Ag Retailers Association to develop guidelines for FMCSA to consider, with regard to these agricultural movements. ACT NOW! This is an important issue for agriculture and retailers should be communicating with their State Associations and legislators on the subject to make their voice heard prior to the June 30, 2011 end of the comment period. Click here to review the May 31st Notice.
Environmental Respect Award State & Regional Winners
The Environmental Respect Award (ERA) is the agricultural industry's highest recognition for environmental stewardship among U.S. retailers, those serving growers with agronomic information critical to effective crop production. A panel of industry experts gather each year to recognize achievement in environmental stewardship, professional excellence and community involvement. Winners have been chosen based on evidence of excellence in site design, in-plant storage and handling procedures, emergency preparedness and response, proper application and leadership in safety and stewardship among customers and employees. We congratulate the following State winners for stepping up and showing their environmental respect. Members of the Asmark Institute are denoted in red.
Crop Production Services, Wynne, Arkansas
Simplot Grower Solutions, Edison, California
Wilbur-Ellis Company, Caldwell, Idaho
Illini FS, Champaign, Illinois
Ceres Solutions LLP, Rockville, Indiana
MaxYield Cooperative, West Bend, Iowa
Crop Production Services, Clarkson, Kentucky
Crop Production Services, Lake Odessa, Michigan
Simplot Grower Solutions, Hatfield, Minnesota
Crop Production Services, Bernie, Missouri
CHS Agri-Service Center, Loomis, Nebraska
Crop Production Services, Pantego, North Carolina
Simplot Grower Solutions, Langdon, North Dakota
Crop Production Services, Washington Court House, Ohio
Union Mill, Belleville, Pennsylvania
South Dakota Wheat Growers, Wolsey, South Dakota
Helena Chemical Company, Sharon, Tennessee
Wilbur-Ellis, Rosebud, Texas
Wilbur-Ellis, Spokane Valley, Washington
United Cooperative, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Each state winner will receive the distinctive ERA personalized crystal sculpture, a statewide press campaign geared toward select print and broadcast media and a public relations kit. The winning agribusinesses also competed for regional Environmental Respect Awards. Regional winners will receive a trophy during a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. The national award winner will also be announced at this time. We congratulate the following Regional winners just announced. Members of the Asmark Institute are denoted in red.
Land View Inc., Murtaugh, Idaho
Tyree Ag Inc., Kinsley, Kansas
Crop Production Services, Pantego, North Carolina
Crop Production Services, Washington Court House, Ohio
United Cooperative, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Christopher Henney Selected as New OABA President/CEO
Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) has selected Christopher Henney as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Henney succeeds Gary King, who will stay on at the association in a consulting capacity until his retirement in October 2011. "We are very pleased to welcome Chris as our new CEO," said OABA Board Chairman Herb Mayer. "We selected Chris out of a pool of 38 impressive candidates because we felt he had the skill set, talents and vision to help re-launch OABA to meet today's challenges."
Henney comes to OABA from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), where he most recently served as director of legislative relations. "As an Ohio native, I am honored to have the opportunity to guide OABA," Henney said. "This association has a successful 130-year history of serving Ohio's commercial agribusiness industry. The board wants to build upon that strong foundation and take the organization in a new direction. I look forward to helping OABA take an increasingly proactive role in addressing our diverse membership's legislative and educational needs and working to raise the association's prominence in Ohio and across the country." Our congratulations to Christopher on his new position and to Gary King for his years of dedicated service to our industry.
TFI Unveils New Nutrient Stewardship Website
The Fertilizer Institute has developed a new online resource aimed at helping farmers boost yields, manage input costs and maintain soil health. The website, www.nutrientstewardship.com, is aimed at increasing awareness of 4R nutrient stewardship, a site-specific, scientific framework that addresses farmers' use of the right fertilizer source at the right rate, the right time and the right place. Congratulations to Lara Moody, Director of Stewardship Programs, on her recent presentation on 4R nutrient stewardship to the United Nations.
Indiana Nurse Tank Update: Welding on Nurse Tanks
For many years, the Indiana State Chemist's office accepted a generic written record of welds on tanks used to transport anhydrous ammonia. DOT recently communicated that it will not recognize or accept this generic form. This could mean that an estimated 25% of Indiana ammonia nurse tanks will be put out-of-service. Mark Shublak and other representatives from the Agribusiness Council of Indiana (ACI) and Shawn Lambert from Co-Alliance traveled to Washington, D.C. recently to meet with DOT officials and discuss the federal regulation involving the Form R-1 Report of Repair welding requirements for ammonia nurse tanks. Mark is working closely with The Fertilizer Institute and the Lt. Governor's office, the State Chemist's office and other organizations to try to craft a compromise with DOT on this issue.
Social Security Numbers Soon To Be Issued Randomly
As of June 25, 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is randomizing assignments of Social Security Numbers (SSN). Currently SSNs are assigned following a distinct pattern for a given state and birth year allowing the validation of information based on those consistently assigned values. After June 25th, the SSA will issue numbers randomly-not following the historic pattern currently in use. This is in part to help with identity theft and simply because some areas need more numbers than the current number assignment logic allows. If the SSN was issued before June 25th, SSN validation is business as usual. If the SSN was issued after June 25th, background check providers will have to handle programming issues to create alternative logic for verification purposes. You have several options if you would like to validate a number issued after June 25, 2011. You can confirm directly with the candidate, ask the candidate to get confirmation from the SSA or run a consent-based SSN verification.
Roadcheck 2011: June 7-9th
Roadcheck 2011, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's (CVSA) 72-hour safety blitz, is scheduled for June 7-9, 2011. CVSA sponsors Roadcheck with participation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation in Mexico. Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial vehicles in the world, with approximately 14 trucks or buses being inspected, on average, every minute from Canada to Mexico during a 72-hour period. Each year, approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial and federal inspectors at 1,500 locations across North America perform the truck and bus inspections. The primary reasons cited by inspectors for placing vehicles and drivers out of service continue to be brakes and logbooks, respectively.
OSHA Sends Letter to 14,600 Workplaces with Highest Injury, Illness Rates
OSHA has identified and sent letters to approximately 14,600 workplaces with the highest occupational injury and illness rates and is urging the employers to take action to remove hazards causing the high rates. Employers with 2.5 or more injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work received the letter. The employers are those whose establishments are covered by federal OSHA and reported the highest "Days Away from work, Restricted work or job Transfer injury and illness" (DART) rate to OSHA in a survey of 2009 injury and illness data. For every 100 full-time workers, the 14,600 employers had 2.5 or more injuries or illnesses which resulted in days away from work, restricted work or job transfer. The national average is 1.8 injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work.
Safety Technology Bill Introduced for Commercial Vehicles
Introduced by Representatives Geoff Davis (R-KY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), HR 1706, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Act of 2011, applies to commercial vehicle owners and would 1) provide a tax credit equal to 50% of the cost of a qualified system, up to $1,500; 2) allow a total credit of up to $3,500 per vehicle; 3) limit the qualifying taxpayer to a maximum credit of $350,000 per taxable year; and 4) extend credit eligibility for the purchase of school buses, intercity buses and vehicles used in commerce weighing over 26,000 pounds. The safety technologies covered in HR 1706 are brake stroke monitoring systems, vehicle stability systems, lane departure warning systems and collision warning or mitigation systems. The list of eligible technologies was carefully crafted with the support and assistance of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and is designed to target the causes of approximately 60% of commercial motor vehicle accidents, as identified in the FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study.
Coming Soon: New Professional Applicator Training
The Asmark Institute will offer a new professional applicator training program starting this summer. The new course will be a full day of hands-on instructions and demonstrations and will be offered remotely at 24 locations around the United States. Dr. Bob Wolf is recognized throughout the United States for his knowledge of application technologies and will be the lead instructor for this course. The primary focus will be developing and delivering high quality, consistent and cost effective educational experiences for employees considered to be commercial handlers, and/or applicators, and the management that supervise them. This course has been almost two years in development and utilizes more than $250,000 in equipment and technology. Sites for 2011 are being selected now.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Company Moving
An agriculture equipment company is relocating from Illinois to Missouri and taking 92 jobs with it. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced recently that Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Company will move its headquarters and manufacturing facility to a site near Palmyra, Missouri. It's currently based just across the Mississippi River in Quincy, Illinois. The move marks an exodus of financially-strong companies from Illinois to other states where the business climate is more hospitable. The company makes equipment for handling bulk quantities of dry fertilizer. It plans a capital investment of $9 million as part of the move. Missouri is offering the company about $1.6 million of incentives. That includes nearly $1 million under the Quality Jobs program, which provides tax credits and lets companies keep a portion of employee withholding taxes. The project is getting an infrastructure grant of $600,000, and the company will get about $72,000 in sales tax exemptions.
SPCC Rule Pamphlet Now Available from ARA/EPA
A pamphlet summarizing the oil SPCC Rules for agriculture is now available on the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) website. This program was developed by EPA and calls for farmers and retail facilities to have an oil spill prevention plan, or a SPCC Plan, in place by November 10, 2011. ARA has been working closely with EPA to help ensure that information regarding the SPCC rules is communicated to the agriculture industry. As a result of these efforts, ARA has permission from EPA to distribute reprints of the brochure. Click here to access the new pamphlet.
OSHA Forum on Combustible Dust
OSHA recently conducted a forum in Washington, D.C. to explore possible regulatory options for addressing combustible dust hazards. The 15-member panel was comprised of members of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), including consultants, engineers and vendors that produce fire-prevention equipment like ventilation systems and sprinklers. Two union representatives, a member of the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and a former aerospace engineer from the University of Michigan were part of the panel. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) attended the meeting as an observer, but was not allowed by OSHA to speak. OSHA's stated intent in convening a combustible dust expert panel was to gather information on protective and cost-effective regulatory options for the agency to consider in preparation for convening a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel that is required for standards that affect small businesses. The meeting agenda focused on the following topics:
  1. The scope and application of a potential combustible dust standard to facilities that handle combustible dust;
  2. Whether focusing only on secondary explosions would prevent most multi-fatality events;
  3. The higher costs of engineering controls for facilities that retroactively may be required to comply with such a standard;
  4. Whether OSHA should require only a single layer of protection to combat dust explosions.
Panel members during the meeting urged OSHA to use NFPA standards as a foundation for a general combustible dust standard. They further recommended that industries be required to use NFPA approved services or equipment to comply. Both the chairman of NFPA's 654 committee and the NFPA staff liaison were members of the expert panel. The NGFA has urged the agency not to adopt NFPA standards, in part because they are not subjected to economic impact analysis before being approved. The NGFA also has noted that there are many elements in NFPA standards, such as facility design, construction and operational considerations, that are inappropriate, impractical or unachievable. The NGFA also has emphasized that the existing OSHA grain handling standard, combined with aggressive industry research, education and training efforts, has contributed to significant reductions in fire and explosion incidents, injuries and deaths. Click here for more information.
Tax Freedom Day
Tax Freedom Day arrived on April 12th this year, the 102nd day of 2011. This means that Americans worked more than three months of the year before they earned enough money to pay this year's tax, according to The Tax Foundation. Tax Freedom Day arrived three days later in 2011 than it did in 2010.
OSHA Launches National Survey on Employers' Safety and Health Practices
The U.S. Department of Labor has launched a survey of private sector employers as a tool toward better designing future rules, compliance assistance and outreach efforts. As many as 19,000 employers nationwide will receive the Baseline Survey of Safety and Health Practices, which asks questions about workplace safety and health management practices. The survey will be sent to private sector employers of all sizes and across all industries under OSHA's jurisdiction. Questions include whether respondents already have a safety management system, whether they perform annual inspections, who manages safety at their establishments and what kinds of hazards they encounter at their facilities. Participation in the survey is voluntary. The agency expects the data collection phase to be completed by August when results, which will be anonymous and cannot be used for enforcement, will be provided.
Weak May Economic Outlook Reported
While the U.S. economy continues to move in a positive direction, April and early May data shows it is doing so at a less-than desirable pace according to a report released by Northwood University. The advance estimate for 1st quarter U.S. GDP for 2011 was just 1.8%, down from a 3.1% growth rate for the 4th quarter of 2010. We grow more and more uneasy over the increasing size and scope of the U.S. national debt, which surpassed the U.S. debt ceiling of $14.3 trillion and will soon exceed $14.4 trillion. The threat of a global inflationary cycle still weighs heavy on the global economy.
State Labor Law Poster Updates
New State All-In-One Labor Law Poster can be ordered by clicking here.
Connecticut - Discrimination is Illegal - Effective May 2011
Connecticut has changed the Discrimination is Illegal notice. Civil Union Status was added to classes protected from discrimination in Employment, Housing, Public Accommodations and Credit Transactions. This is a material substantive change and a new Connecticut Labor Law Poster is required.
Florida - Minimum Wage - Effective June 2011
The Florida minimum wage will increase from $7.25 per hour to $7.31 per hour. This is a material substantive change and a new Florida Labor Law Poster is required.
Kansas - Workers' Compensation - Effective May 2011
Employees now have more time to notify employers of on the job injuries: 30 days from the date of the accident or injury from repetitive trauma, 20 days from the date the employee seeks medical treatment if still working for the employer, or 20 days from the last day of employment if the employee no longer works for the employer against whom they are seeking claim. Employers may be notified orally or in writing. The section describing weekly benefits has been removed. This is a material substantive change and a new Kansas Labor Law Poster is required.
2011 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.
Strategic Plan for the Future
Plans For the Future
Front row: Brian Miller (Agrium), Susan Summers (A.I.), Amber Duke (A.I.), Denis Doonan (CPS), Melissa Iskra (A.I.), Marie Cook (Alabama Farmers Coop). Back row: Billy Pirkle (Crop Production Services), Daren Coppock (ARA), Bill Welter (Adaptive Strategies), Allen Summers (A.I.), Jean Payne (IFCA), Ford West (TFI), Keith Fricke (Sunrise Ag Service), David Martin (Tennessee Farmers Coop), Lloyd Burling (A.I.), Brian Mason (A.I.) and Randy Lawrence (A.I.).
On May 11-13th, the Board of Directors of the Asmark Institute and other leaders of the industry met in White Sulphur Springs, WV to discuss the organization's strategic plan for the next five years. Prior to the meeting, participants were surveyed individually for information essential to the planning process. The results of the initial interviews helped guide the discussion at the two-day meeting. The session was led by Bill Welter with Adapt Strategies of Chicago, IL, and included spirited discussion on the current environment for agriculture, trends, implications, partners and the Institute's foundation at the intersection of agricultural retailers, state and national associations and state and federal regulators. The group worked to provide guidance for the Institute and define what success would look like for the organization in 2016.
Lloyd Burling Honored at Reception & Dinner
For almost 50 years of service and his work on behalf of the Asmark Institute, Lloyd Burling was honored at a reception and dinner held at the Greenbrier Hotel. Lloyd is known widely for his contribution to agriculture and his years as a person that brings people together. We appreciate having Lloyd as a valued part of the team, as we formed the Institute more than six years ago. Lloyd Burling Honored His wisdom and work will carry on to influence our direction in the future. We wish Lloyd and his wife Bobbie the very best that retirement has to offer. While this is retirement number two for Lloyd, future plans may include a few public appearances every now and then. Congratulations Lloyd and thank you for all you have accomplished on behalf of the Asmark Institute and the ag industry! Pictured above is Lloyd and Bobbie Burling talking with Billy Pirkle (CPS).
Federal DOT Seeks to Define "Implement of Husbandry"
If you are like most in rural agricultural states, you have heard and maybe been involved in enforcement actions regarding implements of husbandry - you know those pieces of equipment designed to transport seed, liquid and dry fertilizers and other commodities to and from the fields we service as an important part of production agriculture. DOT has ramped up its enforcement effort over the past three years and the war over lights, brakes, inspections and all of the other requirements associated with these types of equipment has been fought one battle at a time over the many states. DOT wants to treat this type of equipment as Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV), citing there is no federal definition for an implement of husbandry. Most states don't have a definition either.
Over the past few months, a particularly interesting issue arose in Illinois with DOT regarding farmers that haul grain under a crop share arrangement to elevators that may export. DOT recently informed the Illinois ag industry that delivery of grain to elevators with a tractor and wagon was considered to be interstate commerce, thus requiring the tractor and wagon to be CMVs. By the most strict interpretation, a farmer delivering grain (using a farm tractor and wagon) to an elevator that may export the product elsewhere, is considered by DOT to be part of the interstate commerce system. So in a nutshell, hauling the landlord's grain under a crop share agreement makes the farmer a for-hire carrier and subjects them to all aspects of the DOT regulations. This issue opened the door and may provide the traction necessary to gain a federal definition for implements of husbandry.
The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, headed up by Jean Payne and Kevin Runkle, helped organize an appeal from Illinois Congressmen to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. The appeal evidently caught the attention of Secretary LaHood as DOT issued a Notice in the Tuesday, May 31st Federal Register requesting public comment on how they should define implements of husbandry and other agricultural movements in federal law. IFCA is working with Farm Bureau, The Fertilizer Institute and Ag Retailers Association to develop guidelines for FMCSA to consider, with regard to these agricultural movements. ACT NOW! This is an important issue for agriculture and retailers should be communicating with their State Associations and legislators on the subject to make their voice heard prior to the June 30, 2011 end of the comment period. Click here to review the May 31st Notice.
Environmental Respect Award State & Regional Winners
The Environmental Respect Award (ERA) is the agricultural industry's highest recognition for environmental stewardship among U.S. retailers, those serving growers with agronomic information critical to effective crop production. A panel of industry experts gather each year to recognize achievement in environmental stewardship, professional excellence and community involvement. Winners have been chosen based on evidence of excellence in site design, in-plant storage and handling procedures, emergency preparedness and response, proper application and leadership in safety and stewardship among customers and employees. We congratulate the following State winners for stepping up and showing their environmental respect. Members of the Asmark Institute are denoted in red.
Crop Production Services, Wynne, Arkansas
Simplot Grower Solutions, Edison, California
Wilbur-Ellis Company, Caldwell, Idaho
Illini FS, Champaign, Illinois
Ceres Solutions LLP, Rockville, Indiana
MaxYield Cooperative, West Bend, Iowa
Crop Production Services, Clarkson, Kentucky
Crop Production Services, Lake Odessa, Michigan
Simplot Grower Solutions, Hatfield, Minnesota
Crop Production Services, Bernie, Missouri
CHS Agri-Service Center, Loomis, Nebraska
Crop Production Services, Pantego, North Carolina
Simplot Grower Solutions, Langdon, North Dakota
Crop Production Services, Washington Court House, Ohio
Union Mill, Belleville, Pennsylvania
South Dakota Wheat Growers, Wolsey, South Dakota
Helena Chemical Company, Sharon, Tennessee
Wilbur-Ellis, Rosebud, Texas
Wilbur-Ellis, Spokane Valley, Washington
United Cooperative, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Each state winner will receive the distinctive ERA personalized crystal sculpture, a statewide press campaign geared toward select print and broadcast media and a public relations kit. The winning agribusinesses also competed for regional Environmental Respect Awards. Regional winners will receive a trophy during a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. The national award winner will also be announced at this time. We congratulate the following Regional winners just announced. Members of the Asmark Institute are denoted in red.
Land View Inc., Murtaugh, Idaho
Tyree Ag Inc., Kinsley, Kansas
Crop Production Services, Pantego, North Carolina
Crop Production Services, Washington Court House, Ohio
United Cooperative, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Christopher Henney Selected as New OABA President/CEO
Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) has selected Christopher Henney as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Henney succeeds Gary King, who will stay on at the association in a consulting capacity until his retirement in October 2011. "We are very pleased to welcome Chris as our new CEO," said OABA Board Chairman Herb Mayer. "We selected Chris out of a pool of 38 impressive candidates because we felt he had the skill set, talents and vision to help re-launch OABA to meet today's challenges."
Henney comes to OABA from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), where he most recently served as director of legislative relations. "As an Ohio native, I am honored to have the opportunity to guide OABA," Henney said. "This association has a successful 130-year history of serving Ohio's commercial agribusiness industry. The board wants to build upon that strong foundation and take the organization in a new direction. I look forward to helping OABA take an increasingly proactive role in addressing our diverse membership's legislative and educational needs and working to raise the association's prominence in Ohio and across the country." Our congratulations to Christopher on his new position and to Gary King for his years of dedicated service to our industry.
TFI Unveils New Nutrient Stewardship Website
The Fertilizer Institute has developed a new online resource aimed at helping farmers boost yields, manage input costs and maintain soil health. The website, www.nutrientstewardship.com, is aimed at increasing awareness of 4R nutrient stewardship, a site-specific, scientific framework that addresses farmers' use of the right fertilizer source at the right rate, the right time and the right place. Congratulations to Lara Moody, Director of Stewardship Programs, on her recent presentation on 4R nutrient stewardship to the United Nations.
Indiana Nurse Tank Update: Welding on Nurse Tanks
For many years, the Indiana State Chemist's office accepted a generic written record of welds on tanks used to transport anhydrous ammonia. DOT recently communicated that it will not recognize or accept this generic form. This could mean that an estimated 25% of Indiana ammonia nurse tanks will be put out-of-service. Mark Shublak and other representatives from the Agribusiness Council of Indiana (ACI) and Shawn Lambert from Co-Alliance traveled to Washington, D.C. recently to meet with DOT officials and discuss the federal regulation involving the Form R-1 Report of Repair welding requirements for ammonia nurse tanks. Mark is working closely with The Fertilizer Institute and the Lt. Governor's office, the State Chemist's office and other organizations to try to craft a compromise with DOT on this issue.
Social Security Numbers Soon To Be Issued Randomly
As of June 25, 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is randomizing assignments of Social Security Numbers (SSN). Currently SSNs are assigned following a distinct pattern for a given state and birth year allowing the validation of information based on those consistently assigned values. After June 25th, the SSA will issue numbers randomly-not following the historic pattern currently in use. This is in part to help with identity theft and simply because some areas need more numbers than the current number assignment logic allows. If the SSN was issued before June 25th, SSN validation is business as usual. If the SSN was issued after June 25th, background check providers will have to handle programming issues to create alternative logic for verification purposes. You have several options if you would like to validate a number issued after June 25, 2011. You can confirm directly with the candidate, ask the candidate to get confirmation from the SSA or run a consent-based SSN verification.
Roadcheck 2011: June 7-9th
Roadcheck 2011, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's (CVSA) 72-hour safety blitz, is scheduled for June 7-9, 2011. CVSA sponsors Roadcheck with participation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation in Mexico. Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial vehicles in the world, with approximately 14 trucks or buses being inspected, on average, every minute from Canada to Mexico during a 72-hour period. Each year, approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial and federal inspectors at 1,500 locations across North America perform the truck and bus inspections. The primary reasons cited by inspectors for placing vehicles and drivers out of service continue to be brakes and logbooks, respectively.
OSHA Sends Letter to 14,600 Workplaces with Highest Injury, Illness Rates
OSHA has identified and sent letters to approximately 14,600 workplaces with the highest occupational injury and illness rates and is urging the employers to take action to remove hazards causing the high rates. Employers with 2.5 or more injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work received the letter. The employers are those whose establishments are covered by federal OSHA and reported the highest "Days Away from work, Restricted work or job Transfer injury and illness" (DART) rate to OSHA in a survey of 2009 injury and illness data. For every 100 full-time workers, the 14,600 employers had 2.5 or more injuries or illnesses which resulted in days away from work, restricted work or job transfer. The national average is 1.8 injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work.
Safety Technology Bill Introduced for Commercial Vehicles
Introduced by Representatives Geoff Davis (R-KY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), HR 1706, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Act of 2011, applies to commercial vehicle owners and would 1) provide a tax credit equal to 50% of the cost of a qualified system, up to $1,500; 2) allow a total credit of up to $3,500 per vehicle; 3) limit the qualifying taxpayer to a maximum credit of $350,000 per taxable year; and 4) extend credit eligibility for the purchase of school buses, intercity buses and vehicles used in commerce weighing over 26,000 pounds. The safety technologies covered in HR 1706 are brake stroke monitoring systems, vehicle stability systems, lane departure warning systems and collision warning or mitigation systems. The list of eligible technologies was carefully crafted with the support and assistance of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and is designed to target the causes of approximately 60% of commercial motor vehicle accidents, as identified in the FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study.
Coming Soon: New Professional Applicator Training
The Asmark Institute will offer a new professional applicator training program starting this summer. The new course will be a full day of hands-on instructions and demonstrations and will be offered remotely at 24 locations around the United States. Dr. Bob Wolf is recognized throughout the United States for his knowledge of application technologies and will be the lead instructor for this course. The primary focus will be developing and delivering high quality, consistent and cost effective educational experiences for employees considered to be commercial handlers, and/or applicators, and the management that supervise them. This course has been almost two years in development and utilizes more than $250,000 in equipment and technology. Sites for 2011 are being selected now.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Company Moving
An agriculture equipment company is relocating from Illinois to Missouri and taking 92 jobs with it. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced recently that Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Company will move its headquarters and manufacturing facility to a site near Palmyra, Missouri. It's currently based just across the Mississippi River in Quincy, Illinois. The move marks an exodus of financially-strong companies from Illinois to other states where the business climate is more hospitable. The company makes equipment for handling bulk quantities of dry fertilizer. It plans a capital investment of $9 million as part of the move. Missouri is offering the company about $1.6 million of incentives. That includes nearly $1 million under the Quality Jobs program, which provides tax credits and lets companies keep a portion of employee withholding taxes. The project is getting an infrastructure grant of $600,000, and the company will get about $72,000 in sales tax exemptions.
SPCC Rule Pamphlet Now Available from ARA/EPA
A pamphlet summarizing the oil SPCC Rules for agriculture is now available on the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) website. This program was developed by EPA and calls for farmers and retail facilities to have an oil spill prevention plan, or a SPCC Plan, in place by November 10, 2011. ARA has been working closely with EPA to help ensure that information regarding the SPCC rules is communicated to the agriculture industry. As a result of these efforts, ARA has permission from EPA to distribute reprints of the brochure. Click here to access the new pamphlet.
OSHA Forum on Combustible Dust
OSHA recently conducted a forum in Washington, D.C. to explore possible regulatory options for addressing combustible dust hazards. The 15-member panel was comprised of members of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), including consultants, engineers and vendors that produce fire-prevention equipment like ventilation systems and sprinklers. Two union representatives, a member of the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and a former aerospace engineer from the University of Michigan were part of the panel. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) attended the meeting as an observer, but was not allowed by OSHA to speak. OSHA's stated intent in convening a combustible dust expert panel was to gather information on protective and cost-effective regulatory options for the agency to consider in preparation for convening a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel that is required for standards that affect small businesses. The meeting agenda focused on the following topics:
  1. The scope and application of a potential combustible dust standard to facilities that handle combustible dust;
  2. Whether focusing only on secondary explosions would prevent most multi-fatality events;
  3. The higher costs of engineering controls for facilities that retroactively may be required to comply with such a standard;
  4. Whether OSHA should require only a single layer of protection to combat dust explosions.
Panel members during the meeting urged OSHA to use NFPA standards as a foundation for a general combustible dust standard. They further recommended that industries be required to use NFPA approved services or equipment to comply. Both the chairman of NFPA's 654 committee and the NFPA staff liaison were members of the expert panel. The NGFA has urged the agency not to adopt NFPA standards, in part because they are not subjected to economic impact analysis before being approved. The NGFA also has noted that there are many elements in NFPA standards, such as facility design, construction and operational considerations, that are inappropriate, impractical or unachievable. The NGFA also has emphasized that the existing OSHA grain handling standard, combined with aggressive industry research, education and training efforts, has contributed to significant reductions in fire and explosion incidents, injuries and deaths. Click here for more information.
Tax Freedom Day
Tax Freedom Day arrived on April 12th this year, the 102nd day of 2011. This means that Americans worked more than three months of the year before they earned enough money to pay this year's tax, according to The Tax Foundation. Tax Freedom Day arrived three days later in 2011 than it did in 2010.
OSHA Launches National Survey on Employers' Safety and Health Practices
The U.S. Department of Labor has launched a survey of private sector employers as a tool toward better designing future rules, compliance assistance and outreach efforts. As many as 19,000 employers nationwide will receive the Baseline Survey of Safety and Health Practices, which asks questions about workplace safety and health management practices. The survey will be sent to private sector employers of all sizes and across all industries under OSHA's jurisdiction. Questions include whether respondents already have a safety management system, whether they perform annual inspections, who manages safety at their establishments and what kinds of hazards they encounter at their facilities. Participation in the survey is voluntary. The agency expects the data collection phase to be completed by August when results, which will be anonymous and cannot be used for enforcement, will be provided.
Weak May Economic Outlook Reported
While the U.S. economy continues to move in a positive direction, April and early May data shows it is doing so at a less-than desirable pace according to a report released by Northwood University. The advance estimate for 1st quarter U.S. GDP for 2011 was just 1.8%, down from a 3.1% growth rate for the 4th quarter of 2010. We grow more and more uneasy over the increasing size and scope of the U.S. national debt, which surpassed the U.S. debt ceiling of $14.3 trillion and will soon exceed $14.4 trillion. The threat of a global inflationary cycle still weighs heavy on the global economy.
State Labor Law Poster Updates
New State All-In-One Labor Law Poster can be ordered by clicking here.
Connecticut - Discrimination is Illegal - Effective May 2011
Connecticut has changed the Discrimination is Illegal notice. Civil Union Status was added to classes protected from discrimination in Employment, Housing, Public Accommodations and Credit Transactions. This is a material substantive change and a new Connecticut Labor Law Poster is required.
Florida - Minimum Wage - Effective June 2011
The Florida minimum wage will increase from $7.25 per hour to $7.31 per hour. This is a material substantive change and a new Florida Labor Law Poster is required.
Kansas - Workers' Compensation - Effective May 2011
Employees now have more time to notify employers of on the job injuries: 30 days from the date of the accident or injury from repetitive trauma, 20 days from the date the employee seeks medical treatment if still working for the employer, or 20 days from the last day of employment if the employee no longer works for the employer against whom they are seeking claim. Employers may be notified orally or in writing. The section describing weekly benefits has been removed. This is a material substantive change and a new Kansas Labor Law Poster is required.
2011 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.