ResponsibleAg Highlighted in U.S. Senate Hearing on Executive Order
December 11, 2014
On December 11, the U.S. Senate Committees on Environment and Public Works and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing to receive an update on President Obama's Executive Order (EO) 13650 - Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security to enhance the safety and security of chemical facilities and to reduce the risks associated with hazardous chemicals to workers and communities.
The EO directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to identify ways to:
  1. improve operational coordination with State, local, tribal, and territorial partners;
  2. enhance Federal agency coordination and information sharing;
  3. modernize policies, regulations, and standards to enhance safety and security in chemical facilities; and
  4. work with stakeholders to identify best practices to reduce safety and security risks in the production and storage of potentially harmful chemicals.
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) issued a joint statement to the Committees that featured ResponsibleAg as a cornerstone effort by the agricultural retail and fertilizer industries to promote safe storage and handling practices of fertilizer products and support federal regulatory compliance by all retailers. The hearing comes just days after ResponsibleAg began to register retail agribusinesses for assessments, which are expected to begin in 2015.
In their statement both TFI and ARA noted, "In October 2014, with the assistance of the Asmark Institute, the Ford B. West Training Facility, Owensboro, Kentucky was officially opened for business. We are pleased to inform you that the first auditor training classes were held in October and additional training classes will commence in December and throughout 2015. Additionally, we are excited to announce that facility registration is now open. Facility assessments will begin in 2015."
Assessments will be based upon a checklist of current federal regulatory requirements applicable to the storage and handling of fertilizer products. The checklist, developed by a technical committee comprised of industry regulatory professionals, contains more than 320 questions. Auditors under the ResponsibleAg Certification Program will use this checklist to assess the level of compliance at each participating facility.
TFI and ARA also made the Committees aware of their dedication "to ensuring the success of ResponsibleAg because it is the responsible thing to do for our employees, customers and neighbors. We are proud of the critical work we do to help farmers provide the food, fuel and fiber for the world and we strive to do this as safely and securely as possible."
ResponsibleAg is a non-profit organization 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 with 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. The formation of ResponsibleAg was formally announced in testimony delivered to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in March of this year.