Frequently Asked Questions
 
Q:
What is ResponsibleAg Inc.?
A:
ResponsibleAg Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in 2014 to promote the public welfare by assisting agribusinesses as they seek to comply with federal environmental, health, safety and security rules regarding the safe handling and storage of fertilizer products. The organization provides participating businesses a federal regulatory compliance assessment relating to the safe storage and handling of fertilizers, recommendations for corrective action where needed and a robust suite of resources to assist in this regard.
Q:
Why participate in ResponsibleAg?
A:
Participating in the program will help assure community members, employees and emergency responders that participating agribusinesses are acting responsibly. Additionally, it will allow participants to identify potential compliance issues and correct them before the next government agency audit - saving time and helping to minimize the potential for penalties.
Q:
Why was ResponsibleAg formed?
A:
The fertilizer industry is building upon its corporate social responsibility by promoting safe storage and handling practices, by supporting federal regulatory compliance by all retailers. Our goal: Improving safety and security associated with storage and handling of fertilizer products, supporting compliance with federal regulations, demonstrating accountability and transparency and providing for the safety of employees, customers and communities - while continuing to serve the vital need of the agricultural community for crop nutrients.
Q:
How will ResponsibleAg promote safe storage and handling practices?
A:
ResponsibleAg has compiled a checklist of federal regulatory requirements applicable to the storage and handling of fertilizer. The checklist, developed by a technical committee comprised of industry regulatory professionals, contains more than 320 questions. Auditors credentialed under the ResponsibleAg Certification Program will use this checklist to assess compliance with federal regulations at each participating facility.
Q:
What is the scope of the assessment?
A:
The scope is determined by the participating facility. All participants are required to have a base assessment developed for the storage and handling of fertilizer products. A participating facility can choose to add supplemental areas to that assessment. For example, if a facility also handles agricultural chemicals, it can add a supplement to the base assessment that would cover the storage and handling of these products as well. The facility would receive certification upon successfully addressing all issues identified during the assessment. Consequently, a participating facility should note that if it requests supplements to the base assessment and even though it may have successfully completed the base assessment, it will not be certified until it successfully completes the entire assessment.
Q:
Does passing the assessment guarantee that a facility is safe?
A:
Successful completion of the ResponsibleAg assessment helps assure that a facility is in compliance with applicable federal regulatory requirements. It does not guarantee safety. Safety is an ongoing process.
Q:
Does the ResponsibleAg assessment apply to the storage and handling of bulk and bagged fertilizers?
A:
Yes.
Q:
Who is eligible to participate in the ResponsibleAg assessment program?
A:
Any business that stores or handles fertilizer products. The focus of the program for the first three years will be on companies that store and handle ammonium nitrate fertilizer and/or anhydrous ammonia fertilizer.
Q:
Can non-agribusinesses participate in the program?
A:
Yes.
Q:
Can farmers participate?
A:
Yes.
Q:
Where can I learn more about the process of becoming an auditor?
A:
Through the ResponsibleAg website, www.responsibleag.org.
Q:
Who can apply to be a ResponsibleAg Auditor??
A:
Minimum training qualifications have been established to ensure the experience, knowledge base and objectives of auditor candidates are as uniform as possible. Persons wishing to enroll in an auditor training class will be asked to certify they meet each of the following minimum qualifications when registering:
  • Minimum of 5 years of experience working within the agricultural inputs industry;
  • Minimum of 5 years of experience working with environmental, health, safety, security or loss control issues;
  • Working knowledge of the basic Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and related regulatory requirements;
  • Must be capable of climbing to elevated platforms, sometimes reaching 50 feet or more; and
  • Must have basic computer and Internet skills.
Additionally, as noted below, there will be a background check in the credentialing process for those auditor applicants that successfully complete the training program. Auditor applicants must not have been convicted of a felony that is relevant to their performance as an auditor.
Q:
Where is the training for auditors conducted?
A:
Training is being conducted at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture, a facility specifically designed and retrofitted for training purposes. Covering three acres, the facility is modeled after an active working farm center handling dry and liquid fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, package and bulk crop protection chemicals, seed and other products one would find at a typical center.
Q:
Will auditors who successfully complete the training process undergo any additional refresher training?
A:
It is anticipated the auditors credentialed by ResponsibleAg will require updates on the federal regulations, assessment process and website on a periodic basis. More information on how this will occur will be available after the program is launched.
Q:
How will ResponsibleAg auditors be credentialed?
A:
Knowledgeable auditors are the cornerstone of the ResponsibleAg initiative. In order to assure excellence and consistency, all auditors are required to attend and successfully complete a ResponsibleAg Training Course. Upon successful completion of the training course, any person can apply for certification as an auditor. ResponsibleAg will maintain an auditor credentialing application process. It will include a background check for purposes of confirming that the auditor applicant has not been convicted of a felony that is relevant to their performance as an auditor.
Q:
How does the assessment process work?
A:
Participating facilities will receive an assessment by a credentialed ResponsibleAg auditor once every three years. Up to seventeen areas of a facility are assessed by the auditor. (Examples of these areas are dry fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, shop, office and grounds, etc.) The auditor will enter their findings into the secure portal on the ResponsibleAg website within 24 hours of completing the assessment. After it is entered, the facility will receive (if applicable), a corrective action plan listing any issues that were discovered by the auditor.
Q:
What information will the general public be able to access regarding a facility's assessment?
A:
The general public will only be able to view the list of participating facilities on the ResponsibleAg website.
Q:
What will the participating suppliers see regarding a facility's assessment?
A:
In addition to the information available to the general public, suppliers that have enrolled in the ResponsibleAg program will be able to access the list of participating facilities that have successfully completed the assessment and received certification.
Q:
What information will the participating facility be able to access regarding the assessment?
A:
Through their secure portal on the ResponsibleAg website, participants will be able to access their assessment results, the corrective action plan and whether they have successfully completed their assessment.
Q:
What will the participating affiliates see regarding a facility's assessment?
A:
In addition to the information available to the general public, affiliates such as the State Agribusiness Associations enrolled in the ResponsibleAg program will be able to access the list of participating facilities within their State.
Q:
When will the first assessments be conducted?
A:
We anticipate the first assessments will commence in 2015.
Q:
Are state regulations part of the ResponsibleAg program?
A:
Not at this time. The initial focus of ResponsibleAg will be on compliance with applicable federal regulations, particularly for facilities that store and handle ammonium nitrate fertilizer and/or anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. Interested state agribusiness associations are encouraged to contact ResponsibleAg to explore options for assisting with a state-specific companion assessment.
Q:
How do I prepare my facility for an assessment?
A:
It is recommended that a participant complete the compliance assessment tool as well as review the compliance assistance documents that are available as a resource on the ResponsibleAg website.
Q:
How much time will an assessment take?
A:
Depending on the size and scope of the facility it is anticipated that a facility assessment will take approximately 4-8 hours.
Q:
How much will a facility assessment cost?
A:
The cost of the assessment will vary based on the size and location of the facility and will be negotiated between the auditor and the management of the facility being assessed.
Q:
Will timelines be established for a facility to complete corrective action for any issues identified in the assessment?
A:
Yes. All corrective actions are to be taken within the expiration of the timeframes provided in the corrective action plan. An example of a corrective action plan can be found on the ResponsibleAg website.
Q:
What happens if a facility fails to correct any identified issues?
A:
Compliance education is a key component of ResponsibleAg's mission. If the auditor identifies compliance issues, the facility will receive a corrective action plan listing those issues, information on how to correct them and a recommended timeframe for corrections. Certification may not be obtained until all outstanding issues are addressed. Further, after appropriate notice, if the outstanding issues are not ultimately corrected, the facility will no longer be identified as participating in the program.
Q:
Are there additional compliance resources to assist participating facilities?
A:
Each question in the ResponsibleAg assessment will be connected through the ResponsibleAg website, to resources including:
  • ResponsibleAg Compliance Assistance Library;
  • ResponsibleAg Compliance Assessment Tool;
  • ResponsibleAg Mock Assessment Tool;
  • Industry-standard resource materials;
  • Links to federal regulatory agency resources;
  • Important regulatory interpretations; and
  • Frequently Asked Questions.
Q:
How can I register my facility?
A:
A link to the facility registration page is available at www.responsibleag.org. Log onto the website and click on the yellow "Register" button. Annual registration is $150 per retail facility or farm, $100 for unmanned retail and farm satellite locations and $5,000 for fertilizer manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, importers and brokers.
Q:
What if I want to register multiple facilities?
A:
Registration of groups of 50 or more facilities can be made by using a spreadsheet provided by ResponsibleAg. Registration procedures are on the ResponsibleAg website.
Q:
How many facilities store and handle fertilizer?
A:
Approximately 9,000 facilities are estimated to be eligible in the U.S. Of these, approximately 3,000 handle ammonium nitrate fertilizer and/or anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. These 3,000 facilities are the initial focus for the ResponsibleAg assessment program.
Q:
How do you know there will be a high rate of participation in ResponsibleAg?
A:
Being a responsible corporate citizen in our communities is a top priority throughout our industry. In an effort to demonstrate responsibility and accountability, more than 50 leading companies from all sectors of the fertilizer industry have joined together to develop ResponsibleAg. As such, it is expected that these leaders will participate in the assessment program and encourage their peers to do the same.
Q:
How can I publicize my participation in ResponsibleAg?
A:
Operators of facilities certified by ResponsibleAg can use the ResponsibleAg logo with the exclusive gold check on signage, printed material, employee clothing and other materials. Guidelines for use of the logo will be made available on the ResponsibleAg website.
Q:
What can I do if I am having trouble locating an auditor?
A:
Contact the ResponsibleAg helpdesk for assistance in identifying auditors that are available in your area.
Q:
Where can I find additional information?
A:
Current information and updates on ResponsibleAg can be found at www.responsibleag.org.
Q:
What if I still can't find what I am looking for on the ResponsibleAg.org website?
A:
Please contact the following:
ResponsibleAg Helpdesk:
Phone: (270) 683-6777
  • Registration questions
  • Technical assistance
  • Becoming a ResponsibleAg auditor
  • Website/Resource assistance