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Newsletter
Volume 99
February 1, 2012
Reminder: Time to Post Your 300A
It's time to complete your 2011 injury and illness recordkeeping obligations by posting the Summary of Work- Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300A). OSHA requires that the notice be displayed from February 1st to April 30th of each year in a conspicuous place where employee notices are customarily posted. Businesses with no injuries or illnesses for the year must still post the form. A company official must certify the information in Form 300A was examined and is believed to be correct and complete. Click here to access the form and instructions.
Don't forget the March 1st Deadline
As a reminder worth mentioning, SARA Tier II submissions are due on March 1st. These are annual requirements that most retailers are familiar with, however, the penalties have become quite severe for non-compliance. We believe it is prudent to remind our clients of the upcoming deadline. Each of our clients required to submit a SARA Tier II Report will have received either a Master Report to be used by the facility personnel in reporting and certifying the data electronically as mandated by their state, .... or the packet of traditional hard copies to be signed, certified and submitted to their State Emergency Response Commission, Local Emergency Planning Commission and Fire Department. Don't forget to follow your state's instructions to pay any applicable fees.
Pesticide-Production Report Update
Reminder: Asmark Institute submits and documents receipt of the Pesticide Production Report by U.S. EPA for each of our clients. All clients' reports are currently out for signature and should be returned as soon as possible. Nick Clements is handling this process for us this year. Plans are to file all final reports on schedule to be received by U.S. EPA by Thursday, March 1st.
Registration Open for Professional Applicator Training
Online registration is now available for the 2012 Asmark Institute Professional Applicator Training (PAT). Classes hold up to 30 people and the cost is $220 per person, with lunch provided on location. There will be 36 classes scheduled throughout 2012. Click here for more information and to register. New dates will be added as they are scheduled. If you are interested in PAT in your area, please contact Dustin at 270-926-4600, Ext 203 or dustin@asmark.org.
Moving on...
We are sad to report that Melissa Iskra has informed us she will be moving on to another opportunity. We appreciate the role Melissa has filled over the past year and wish her well with her new opportunity.
SARA Retail Fertilizer Exemption Update
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) recently organized a tour for U.S. EPA staff engaged in the debate over the 2010 reversal of the retail fertilizer exemption. U.S. EPA in 2010 reversed a longstanding interpretation that fertilizer, especially blended fertilizer, held for resale by a retailer for sale to the ultimate customer, was exempt from being reported on the annual SARA Tier II Report. U.S. EPA believes the operation of blending fertilizer should be considered manufacturing. Crop Production Services in Aylett, VA hosted the tour that included a live demonstration of how dry fertilizer is blended. The tour was led by Bill Herz, TFI Vice President of Scientific Programs, and Carmen Stacy, ARA Senior Director of Public Policy and Counsel. EPA Region 4 issued several notices of violation on this issue for dry fertilizers. The 2010 EPA interpretation is a substantive change in policy that creates costs and labor hours on both small and large businesses. TFI and ARA believe that such a change must be made through formal rulemaking and remain hopeful that EPA will revert to the longstanding exemption. Thanks to the employees at the Aylett branch for their willingness to host this tour, and also to Marvin Martz, General Manager, for his help in lining this up. A special thanks to Nancy Vincek, Manager Operations Compliance and James Moore, Eastern U.S. EHS Manager with Crop Production Services, for their work on this issue since it first arose in 2010.
CDLIS Regulation Kicked in January 30th
The Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS) is a new regulation that went into effect January 30th and mandates that all interstate CDL holders and applicants provide proof of their medical certification to their home state licensing agency. The regulation will eventually require agencies to input the proof of certification into the commercial driver's license information system to give roadside law enforcement access to the certification and CDL electronically. However, many states were not prepared for the CDLIS reporting requirement, so the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration delayed the state's data entry deadline to January 30, 2014. In the meantime, anyone who has a licensing "action," such as renewal, upgrade, transfer, etc., after January 30th will have to provide proof of medical certification. It's up to the states to decide if the medical examiners "long form" or the actual medical certificate will be required. Either way, that proof must be presented when conducting CDL-related business at the state licensing agency. While most states are behind on this issue, Colorado is to be commended on their preparation and materials to help make this transition as easy as possible for drivers. Even though you may not be a driver in Colorado, we suggest you visit their website to see what is in store for the future.
Grain Facility Cited for Safety Violations
A Wisconsin grain facility has been cited by OSHA for five safety violations with proposed fines totaling $84,000. The citations include a "willful violation" allegation involving the safety of workers in the proximity of sweep augers, used to clear the inside of grain bins. OSHA also cited two serious violations that allege failure to provide body harnesses or alternative protection, as well as rescue equipment, for work inside grain bins where engulfment hazards are present and two lesser violations. OSHA said it has inspected this company more than 50 times since 1980 and they have received more than 100 citations. OSHA began the investigation in August. The company was given 15 days to comply, request an informal conference or contest the findings.
Grain Auger Incident Results in OSHA Inspection
An Oklahoma grain facility where two teenagers were injured in a grain auger accident in August, has been hit with $12,000 in civil penalties for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA levied fines for six violations of federal law following a September 15, 2011 inspection. The two teens injured in the August 4, 2011 accident, both 17, lost legs and were hospitalized for weeks. The fines and violations include:
  • Failure to train and evaluate employees who operated a forklift. $2,400 fine.
  • Failure to train employees performing grain handling operations both indoors and outdoors in the site-specific emergency action plan exposing employees to the hazards of fire, explosion, strong winds and flying objects. $3,000 fine.
  • Failure to ensure entry conditions, such as atmospheric and mechanical, were safe prior to employees entering bins for cleaning operations. $1,800 fine.
  • Failure to develop a written housekeeping program. $3,000 fine.
  • Failure to develop a written hazard communication program for employees required to use hazardous chemicals used as a pesticide. $1,800 fine.
  • Failure to maintain a certification record that included the date of the inspection, the name of the performing the inspection and the identifier of the bucket elevators inspected. No fine imposed.
The grain company was required to immediately post the notification of penalties in a prominent place or where it could be readily seen by all affected employees for three days or until all violations are abated, whichever is longer.
Update Your MCS-150 for Accurate BASIC Scores
Beginning in February, motor carriers that have Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) data that is 2009 or older on their MCS-150 Motor Carrier Registration may be in for a surprise. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), these carriers will lose the benefit of having their VMT used in their calculations when the January Safety Measurement System (SMS) snapshot is posted at the beginning of February.
The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) safety model uses VMT and average Power Unit (PU) data from your MCS-150 to calculate your Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) percentiles. Motor carriers are encouraged by FMCSA to update their MCS-150 now with 2010 VMT/PU information or shortly after January 1, 2012, with your 2011 data to ensure FMCSA is using the most accurate data available to calculate the percentiles.
The SMS website is updated monthly, so your MCS-150 changes will not be reflected on that site until the next monthly update. Click here to update your carrier information. Under the "Existing Registration Updates" section, choose the first option of "I need to update my USDOT number registration information or file my biennial update."
USDA Signs Agreement With EPA and State of Minnesota Encouraging Farmers to Protect Rivers, Streams and Lakes Through Conservation Practices
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced January 17th that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Minnesota to develop a new state program for farmers designed to increase the voluntary adoption of conservation practices that protect local rivers, streams and other waters by reducing fertilizer run-off and soil erosion.
Through this partnership producers, who undertake a substantial level of conservation activities to reduce nutrient run-off and erosion, will receive assurance from the state that their farms will meet Minnesota's water quality standards and goals during the life of the agreement. Vilsack, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson signed the MOU during a ceremony in the Minnesota Capitol.
"Farmers will know the rules of the game while the state, EPA and the public will know that this program will lead to cleaner water. Clean, healthy waters are essential to the health of our people and to our nation's farmers," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "I believe that local conservation efforts, like those supported through this MOU, are among the most effective means for improving water quality in our nation."
Eventually, USDA and its partners hope to duplicate this success in addressing water quality on agricultural lands across the nation. After the MOU signing, Minnesota and its partners will establish a Technical Advisory Committee to develop the certification program that will support the state's water quality standards and goals.
The Minnesota AWQCP is a state-federal partnership that includes USDA, EPA, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Note: Obviously absent from the table are the stewards of agriculture - the farmers and retailers that support them.
ATA Frustrated With New HOS Rule
Leaders of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) expressed their frustration and disappointment that the Obama administration issued an "unjustified final rule governing hours-of-service that will do nothing to improve highway safety, but will very likely increase the risk of truck-involved crashes." "The announcement of a new rule on the hours-of-service is completely unsurprising. What is surprising and new to us is that for the first time in the agency's history, FMCSA has chosen to eschew a stream of positive safety data and cave in to a vocal anti-truck minority and issue a rule that will have no positive impact on safety," ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. "From the beginning of this process in October 2009, the agency set itself on a course to fix a rule that's not only not broken, but by all objective accounts is working to improve highway safety. Unfortunately, along the way, FMCSA twisted data and, as part of this final rule, is using unjustified causal estimates to justify unnecessary changes."
"Even with an uptick in truck-involved fatalities in 2010, since the current rules went into effect in 2004, fatalities have fallen 29.9 percent, even as overall miles traveled for trucks has risen by tens of billions of miles," said ATA Chairman Dan England. "No one can dispute these facts."
"This rule will put more truck traffic onto the roadways during morning rush hour, frustrate other motorists and increase the risk of crashes," Graves said. "By mandating drivers include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. as part of a "restart" period, FMCSA is assuring that every day as America is commuting to work, thousands of truck drivers will be joining them, creating additional and unnecessary congestion and putting motorists and those professional drivers at greater risk. The largest percentage of truck-involved crashes occur between 6 a.m. and noon, so this change not only effectively destroys the provision of the current rule most cited by professional drivers as beneficial, but it will put more trucks on the road during the statistically riskiest time of the day."
OSHA Publishes Injury and Illness Prevention Programs White Paper
OSHA has published a new Injury and Illness Prevention Programs White Paper on the agency's Website. An injury and illness prevention program is a proactive process to help employers find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt. These programs are effective at reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities. Many workplaces have already adopted such approaches, for example as part of OSHA's cooperative programs. Not only do these employers experience dramatic decreases in workplace injuries, but they often report a transformed workplace culture that can lead to higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs and greater employee satisfaction.
OSHA Standards Undergo Corrections and Technical Amendments
OSHA recently made technical corrections to 16 standards. While the changes are considered non-substantive, a couple of them could have impact on employers' compliance. One change aligns the wording of the §1910.177 standard on servicing large vehicle tires to the recently updated OSHA guidance charts. The standards that may have an effect on agriculture are:
  • Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (§1910.119)
  • Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (§1910.120)
  • Permit-Required Confined Spaces (§1910.146)
  • Medical Services and First Aid (§1910.151 and §1926.50)
  • Servicing Multi-Piece and Single-Piece Rim Wheels (§1910.177)
  • Grain Handling Facilities (§1910.272)
  • Lead (§1910.1025 and §1926.62)
  • Bloodborne Pathogens (§1910.1030)
  • Air Contaminants (§1915.1000)
Click here for a copy of the new Multi-Piece / Single-Piece Wheel Charts.
Environmental Respect Awards: New Entry Deadline
The Environmental Respect Awards launched its 22nd year of honoring stewardship among U.S. agricultural retailers with an improved online entry process and a new deadline. Retailers, land management professionals and past winners will have until March 16th to submit their Environmental Respect Award Self-Audit. The deadline is earlier to accommodate the significant rise in applications and entrants over the past two years. "Participation in this program has more than doubled since 2010," explains K. Elliott Nowels, Director. According to Nowels, retailers across the U.S. are eager to demonstrate their stewardship and share that information with others.
"Our right to operate as an industry depends on our ability to work safely and effectively," says Nowels. "There are good things happening out there. The Environmental Respect Awards is about honoring those in our industry who are doing it right - and sharing that good news with the rest of the world." For 21 years, the Environmental Respect Awards, sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection and CropLife magazine, have been the agricultural industry's highest recognition for environmental stewardship.
Participating entries are examined by a panel of industry experts for excellence in site design, in-plant storage and handling procedures, emergency preparedness, proper application and leadership among customers and employees. This year, applicants will be able to make an "Environmental Pledge," examine their operations by using the Self-Audit Booklet and immediately show their commitment with a participation certificate. "The bar is higher now than it has ever been," says Nowels. "Those who serve in this industry must not only do their work with great care, but communicate their efforts so others understand. There's a new story to tell and retailers are responding through the Environmental Respect Awards."
IRS Tax Deadline is April 17, 2012
Taxpayers will have until Tuesday, April 17th to file their 2011 tax returns and pay any tax due, because April 15th falls on a Sunday, and Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Monday, April 16th. According to federal law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have two extra days to file this year. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until October 15th to file their 2011 tax returns.
What you need to know about the new IRS 1099-K tax form...
The government is introducing a new tax document called Form 1099-K. The form is necessary for small businesses that exceed $20,000 in sales over the course of at least 200 transactions with a single payment processor. The new form allows the IRS to match a small business' tax filings with their sources of revenue. The 1099-K form will show a gross revenue number and a monthly breakdown of the processor's transactions. The small business owner will need to subtract all expenses and compare that number to what they will report on their taxes. Small businesses should be receiving 1099-K forms from credit-processing companies by the end of January.
Well....hello!
Headline read: "Cell phone use causes pedestrians to slow down, wander off course" and goes on that new research from Stony Brook University warns pedestrians that walking while texting or chatting on a cell phone may cause them to slow down or veer off course, highlighting potential safety concerns for pedestrian cell phone use. Although walking seems automatic, areas in the brain controlling executive function and attention are necessary for walking. Research indicates cell phone use and texting impacts working memory of these tasks, and brings new insight into the effects of multi-tasking with mobile devices. Note: If texting or chatting while walking might be hazardous to your health, we would venture a guess it is more than likely your odds of being safer would not increase from doing the same while operating a vehicle.
USDA to Close 259 Offices
USDA announced that it will close 259 offices nationwide, affecting the USDA headquarters in Washington D.C. and operations in 46 states, a move that won praise for cutting costs but raised concerns about the possible effect on food safety. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the goal was to save $150 million a year in the agency's $145 billion budget. About $90 million had already been saved by reducing travel and supplies and the closures were expected to save another $60 million, Vilsack said. Seven foreign offices also will be shut. Vilsack said he didn't anticipate widespread layoffs, in part because 7,000 USDA employees took early retirements over the past year.
Most Quotable:
"If we drift, quarreling and paralyzed, over a Niagara of debt, we will all suffer, regardless of income, race, gender, or other category," said Indiana Governor Mitch McDaniels recently in response to President Obama's State of the Union address.
2012 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.
Reminder: Time to Post Your 300A
It's time to complete your 2011 injury and illness recordkeeping obligations by posting the Summary of Work- Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300A). OSHA requires that the notice be displayed from February 1st to April 30th of each year in a conspicuous place where employee notices are customarily posted. Businesses with no injuries or illnesses for the year must still post the form. A company official must certify the information in Form 300A was examined and is believed to be correct and complete. Click here to access the form and instructions.
Don't forget the March 1st Deadline
As a reminder worth mentioning, SARA Tier II submissions are due on March 1st. These are annual requirements that most retailers are familiar with, however, the penalties have become quite severe for non-compliance. We believe it is prudent to remind our clients of the upcoming deadline. Each of our clients required to submit a SARA Tier II Report will have received either a Master Report to be used by the facility personnel in reporting and certifying the data electronically as mandated by their state, .... or the packet of traditional hard copies to be signed, certified and submitted to their State Emergency Response Commission, Local Emergency Planning Commission and Fire Department. Don't forget to follow your state's instructions to pay any applicable fees.
Pesticide-Production Report Update
Reminder: Asmark Institute submits and documents receipt of the Pesticide Production Report by U.S. EPA for each of our clients. All clients' reports are currently out for signature and should be returned as soon as possible. Nick Clements is handling this process for us this year. Plans are to file all final reports on schedule to be received by U.S. EPA by Thursday, March 1st.
Registration Open for Professional Applicator Training
Online registration is now available for the 2012 Asmark Institute Professional Applicator Training (PAT). Classes hold up to 30 people and the cost is $220 per person, with lunch provided on location. There will be 36 classes scheduled throughout 2012. Click here for more information and to register. New dates will be added as they are scheduled. If you are interested in PAT in your area, please contact Dustin at 270-926-4600, Ext 203 or dustin@asmark.org.
Moving on...
We are sad to report that Melissa Iskra has informed us she will be moving on to another opportunity. We appreciate the role Melissa has filled over the past year and wish her well with her new opportunity.
SARA Retail Fertilizer Exemption Update
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) recently organized a tour for U.S. EPA staff engaged in the debate over the 2010 reversal of the retail fertilizer exemption. U.S. EPA in 2010 reversed a longstanding interpretation that fertilizer, especially blended fertilizer, held for resale by a retailer for sale to the ultimate customer, was exempt from being reported on the annual SARA Tier II Report. U.S. EPA believes the operation of blending fertilizer should be considered manufacturing. Crop Production Services in Aylett, VA hosted the tour that included a live demonstration of how dry fertilizer is blended. The tour was led by Bill Herz, TFI Vice President of Scientific Programs, and Carmen Stacy, ARA Senior Director of Public Policy and Counsel. EPA Region 4 issued several notices of violation on this issue for dry fertilizers. The 2010 EPA interpretation is a substantive change in policy that creates costs and labor hours on both small and large businesses. TFI and ARA believe that such a change must be made through formal rulemaking and remain hopeful that EPA will revert to the longstanding exemption. Thanks to the employees at the Aylett branch for their willingness to host this tour, and also to Marvin Martz, General Manager, for his help in lining this up. A special thanks to Nancy Vincek, Manager Operations Compliance and James Moore, Eastern U.S. EHS Manager with Crop Production Services, for their work on this issue since it first arose in 2010.
CDLIS Regulation Kicked in January 30th
The Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS) is a new regulation that went into effect January 30th and mandates that all interstate CDL holders and applicants provide proof of their medical certification to their home state licensing agency. The regulation will eventually require agencies to input the proof of certification into the commercial driver's license information system to give roadside law enforcement access to the certification and CDL electronically. However, many states were not prepared for the CDLIS reporting requirement, so the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration delayed the state's data entry deadline to January 30, 2014. In the meantime, anyone who has a licensing "action," such as renewal, upgrade, transfer, etc., after January 30th will have to provide proof of medical certification. It's up to the states to decide if the medical examiners "long form" or the actual medical certificate will be required. Either way, that proof must be presented when conducting CDL-related business at the state licensing agency. While most states are behind on this issue, Colorado is to be commended on their preparation and materials to help make this transition as easy as possible for drivers. Even though you may not be a driver in Colorado, we suggest you visit their website to see what is in store for the future.
Grain Facility Cited for Safety Violations
A Wisconsin grain facility has been cited by OSHA for five safety violations with proposed fines totaling $84,000. The citations include a "willful violation" allegation involving the safety of workers in the proximity of sweep augers, used to clear the inside of grain bins. OSHA also cited two serious violations that allege failure to provide body harnesses or alternative protection, as well as rescue equipment, for work inside grain bins where engulfment hazards are present and two lesser violations. OSHA said it has inspected this company more than 50 times since 1980 and they have received more than 100 citations. OSHA began the investigation in August. The company was given 15 days to comply, request an informal conference or contest the findings.
Grain Auger Incident Results in OSHA Inspection
An Oklahoma grain facility where two teenagers were injured in a grain auger accident in August, has been hit with $12,000 in civil penalties for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA levied fines for six violations of federal law following a September 15, 2011 inspection. The two teens injured in the August 4, 2011 accident, both 17, lost legs and were hospitalized for weeks. The fines and violations include:
  • Failure to train and evaluate employees who operated a forklift. $2,400 fine.
  • Failure to train employees performing grain handling operations both indoors and outdoors in the site-specific emergency action plan exposing employees to the hazards of fire, explosion, strong winds and flying objects. $3,000 fine.
  • Failure to ensure entry conditions, such as atmospheric and mechanical, were safe prior to employees entering bins for cleaning operations. $1,800 fine.
  • Failure to develop a written housekeeping program. $3,000 fine.
  • Failure to develop a written hazard communication program for employees required to use hazardous chemicals used as a pesticide. $1,800 fine.
  • Failure to maintain a certification record that included the date of the inspection, the name of the performing the inspection and the identifier of the bucket elevators inspected. No fine imposed.
The grain company was required to immediately post the notification of penalties in a prominent place or where it could be readily seen by all affected employees for three days or until all violations are abated, whichever is longer.
Update Your MCS-150 for Accurate BASIC Scores
Beginning in February, motor carriers that have Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) data that is 2009 or older on their MCS-150 Motor Carrier Registration may be in for a surprise. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), these carriers will lose the benefit of having their VMT used in their calculations when the January Safety Measurement System (SMS) snapshot is posted at the beginning of February.
The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) safety model uses VMT and average Power Unit (PU) data from your MCS-150 to calculate your Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) percentiles. Motor carriers are encouraged by FMCSA to update their MCS-150 now with 2010 VMT/PU information or shortly after January 1, 2012, with your 2011 data to ensure FMCSA is using the most accurate data available to calculate the percentiles.
The SMS website is updated monthly, so your MCS-150 changes will not be reflected on that site until the next monthly update. Click here to update your carrier information. Under the "Existing Registration Updates" section, choose the first option of "I need to update my USDOT number registration information or file my biennial update."
USDA Signs Agreement With EPA and State of Minnesota Encouraging Farmers to Protect Rivers, Streams and Lakes Through Conservation Practices
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced January 17th that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Minnesota to develop a new state program for farmers designed to increase the voluntary adoption of conservation practices that protect local rivers, streams and other waters by reducing fertilizer run-off and soil erosion.
Through this partnership producers, who undertake a substantial level of conservation activities to reduce nutrient run-off and erosion, will receive assurance from the state that their farms will meet Minnesota's water quality standards and goals during the life of the agreement. Vilsack, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson signed the MOU during a ceremony in the Minnesota Capitol.
"Farmers will know the rules of the game while the state, EPA and the public will know that this program will lead to cleaner water. Clean, healthy waters are essential to the health of our people and to our nation's farmers," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "I believe that local conservation efforts, like those supported through this MOU, are among the most effective means for improving water quality in our nation."
Eventually, USDA and its partners hope to duplicate this success in addressing water quality on agricultural lands across the nation. After the MOU signing, Minnesota and its partners will establish a Technical Advisory Committee to develop the certification program that will support the state's water quality standards and goals.
The Minnesota AWQCP is a state-federal partnership that includes USDA, EPA, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Note: Obviously absent from the table are the stewards of agriculture - the farmers and retailers that support them.
ATA Frustrated With New HOS Rule
Leaders of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) expressed their frustration and disappointment that the Obama administration issued an "unjustified final rule governing hours-of-service that will do nothing to improve highway safety, but will very likely increase the risk of truck-involved crashes." "The announcement of a new rule on the hours-of-service is completely unsurprising. What is surprising and new to us is that for the first time in the agency's history, FMCSA has chosen to eschew a stream of positive safety data and cave in to a vocal anti-truck minority and issue a rule that will have no positive impact on safety," ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. "From the beginning of this process in October 2009, the agency set itself on a course to fix a rule that's not only not broken, but by all objective accounts is working to improve highway safety. Unfortunately, along the way, FMCSA twisted data and, as part of this final rule, is using unjustified causal estimates to justify unnecessary changes."
"Even with an uptick in truck-involved fatalities in 2010, since the current rules went into effect in 2004, fatalities have fallen 29.9 percent, even as overall miles traveled for trucks has risen by tens of billions of miles," said ATA Chairman Dan England. "No one can dispute these facts."
"This rule will put more truck traffic onto the roadways during morning rush hour, frustrate other motorists and increase the risk of crashes," Graves said. "By mandating drivers include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. as part of a "restart" period, FMCSA is assuring that every day as America is commuting to work, thousands of truck drivers will be joining them, creating additional and unnecessary congestion and putting motorists and those professional drivers at greater risk. The largest percentage of truck-involved crashes occur between 6 a.m. and noon, so this change not only effectively destroys the provision of the current rule most cited by professional drivers as beneficial, but it will put more trucks on the road during the statistically riskiest time of the day."
OSHA Publishes Injury and Illness Prevention Programs White Paper
OSHA has published a new Injury and Illness Prevention Programs White Paper on the agency's Website. An injury and illness prevention program is a proactive process to help employers find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt. These programs are effective at reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities. Many workplaces have already adopted such approaches, for example as part of OSHA's cooperative programs. Not only do these employers experience dramatic decreases in workplace injuries, but they often report a transformed workplace culture that can lead to higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs and greater employee satisfaction.
OSHA Standards Undergo Corrections and Technical Amendments
OSHA recently made technical corrections to 16 standards. While the changes are considered non-substantive, a couple of them could have impact on employers' compliance. One change aligns the wording of the §1910.177 standard on servicing large vehicle tires to the recently updated OSHA guidance charts. The standards that may have an effect on agriculture are:
  • Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (§1910.119)
  • Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (§1910.120)
  • Permit-Required Confined Spaces (§1910.146)
  • Medical Services and First Aid (§1910.151 and §1926.50)
  • Servicing Multi-Piece and Single-Piece Rim Wheels (§1910.177)
  • Grain Handling Facilities (§1910.272)
  • Lead (§1910.1025 and §1926.62)
  • Bloodborne Pathogens (§1910.1030)
  • Air Contaminants (§1915.1000)
Click here for a copy of the new Multi-Piece / Single-Piece Wheel Charts.
Environmental Respect Awards: New Entry Deadline
The Environmental Respect Awards launched its 22nd year of honoring stewardship among U.S. agricultural retailers with an improved online entry process and a new deadline. Retailers, land management professionals and past winners will have until March 16th to submit their Environmental Respect Award Self-Audit. The deadline is earlier to accommodate the significant rise in applications and entrants over the past two years. "Participation in this program has more than doubled since 2010," explains K. Elliott Nowels, Director. According to Nowels, retailers across the U.S. are eager to demonstrate their stewardship and share that information with others.
"Our right to operate as an industry depends on our ability to work safely and effectively," says Nowels. "There are good things happening out there. The Environmental Respect Awards is about honoring those in our industry who are doing it right - and sharing that good news with the rest of the world." For 21 years, the Environmental Respect Awards, sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection and CropLife magazine, have been the agricultural industry's highest recognition for environmental stewardship.
Participating entries are examined by a panel of industry experts for excellence in site design, in-plant storage and handling procedures, emergency preparedness, proper application and leadership among customers and employees. This year, applicants will be able to make an "Environmental Pledge," examine their operations by using the Self-Audit Booklet and immediately show their commitment with a participation certificate. "The bar is higher now than it has ever been," says Nowels. "Those who serve in this industry must not only do their work with great care, but communicate their efforts so others understand. There's a new story to tell and retailers are responding through the Environmental Respect Awards."
IRS Tax Deadline is April 17, 2012
Taxpayers will have until Tuesday, April 17th to file their 2011 tax returns and pay any tax due, because April 15th falls on a Sunday, and Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Monday, April 16th. According to federal law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have two extra days to file this year. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until October 15th to file their 2011 tax returns.
What you need to know about the new IRS 1099-K tax form...
The government is introducing a new tax document called Form 1099-K. The form is necessary for small businesses that exceed $20,000 in sales over the course of at least 200 transactions with a single payment processor. The new form allows the IRS to match a small business' tax filings with their sources of revenue. The 1099-K form will show a gross revenue number and a monthly breakdown of the processor's transactions. The small business owner will need to subtract all expenses and compare that number to what they will report on their taxes. Small businesses should be receiving 1099-K forms from credit-processing companies by the end of January.
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Headline read: "Cell phone use causes pedestrians to slow down, wander off course" and goes on that new research from Stony Brook University warns pedestrians that walking while texting or chatting on a cell phone may cause them to slow down or veer off course, highlighting potential safety concerns for pedestrian cell phone use. Although walking seems automatic, areas in the brain controlling executive function and attention are necessary for walking. Research indicates cell phone use and texting impacts working memory of these tasks, and brings new insight into the effects of multi-tasking with mobile devices. Note: If texting or chatting while walking might be hazardous to your health, we would venture a guess it is more than likely your odds of being safer would not increase from doing the same while operating a vehicle.
USDA to Close 259 Offices
USDA announced that it will close 259 offices nationwide, affecting the USDA headquarters in Washington D.C. and operations in 46 states, a move that won praise for cutting costs but raised concerns about the possible effect on food safety. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the goal was to save $150 million a year in the agency's $145 billion budget. About $90 million had already been saved by reducing travel and supplies and the closures were expected to save another $60 million, Vilsack said. Seven foreign offices also will be shut. Vilsack said he didn't anticipate widespread layoffs, in part because 7,000 USDA employees took early retirements over the past year.
Most Quotable:
"If we drift, quarreling and paralyzed, over a Niagara of debt, we will all suffer, regardless of income, race, gender, or other category," said Indiana Governor Mitch McDaniels recently in response to President Obama's State of the Union address.
2012 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.