When it comes to spreading the word about ResponsibleAg, few are as passionate as Pete Mutschler, Director, Environment, Health & Safety, Country Operations for CHS. Nearly 140 Environment, Health, Safety and Security professionals who attended the National Safety School, August 21-22 heard from Mutschler why companies should join ResponsibleAg and the benefits of participating. They also learned about the broad range of resources they can access as participants. Mutschler, who is a member of the ResponsibleAg board, has supported the program since its inception in 2014. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the National Safety School held in Bloomington, IL.
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) relayed good news about last week’s progress with the recently released draft of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Program re-authorization bill. The bill potentially addresses several key TFI/ARA re-authorization priorities, including creating a new recognition program for those that participate in programs like ResponsibleAg. Justin Louchheim, Director, Government Affairs with TFI said, "The benefits of the program to retailers as contained in the current draft would mean fewer facility inspections and a bump down in Tiering by one level. Another key aspect of the draft includes making the Personnel Surety program optional for Tier 3 and Tier 4 facilities. The bill would require DHS to provide for a public notice and rule making comment period before making any changes to the list of chemicals and thresholds in Appendix A."
Billy Pirkle, Allen Summers and Pete Mutschler represented the industry and ResponsibleAg, meeting with Senate-House staff and testifying about the ResponsibleAg program and the importance of recognizing stewardship programs. There is a lot more work to be done to secure passage of the bill through the Senate, then the House, but the bill is headed in the right direction, says Louchheim.Back to Top
More than 35 credentialed auditors who attended a reception and dinner hosted by ResponsibleAg received a big thank you for their support and participation in the program. Clark Capwell, a member of the ResponsibleAg technical committee and Manager, Environmental Health & Safety for The McGregor Company, showed auditors the new website, reviewed the new cache of printed materials and provided a glimpse into the new Certification Kit. Clark also shared current numbers for facilities certified, audits completed and other major milestones. The event was held in conjunction with the Annual National Safety School in Bloomington, IL, which many auditors attended. The evening provided a great opportunity for auditors to network and share stories about what they’ve learned as credentialed auditors for the ResponsibleAg program.Back to Top
The ResponsibleAg Board has voted to accept the Technical Committee’s recommendation to add certain voluntary Best Management Practice (BMP) questions to the 2019 version of the assessment. The BMP questions would be an optional feature. The committee’s recommendation is in response to the request of registered participants in the program. BMPs are optional methods, activities, prohibitions of practices, maintenance procedures and managerial practices, that when used singly or in combination, may help prevent or reduce potential safety hazards.
A great example of a BMP expected to be added for 2019 is the NFPA 704 Marking System for Hazardous Materials. This marking, while not required by a federal regulation, is the universal standard recognized by emergency responders. The marking communicates the hazards of the contents of the building or tank in a very fast and efficient manner — allowing firefighters and others to plan their approach safely. The committee expects there will likely be about a dozen optional BMP questions added.Back to Top
The ResponsibleAg story is a great one, and it just became easier to spread the word with two new PowerPoint presentations. The recently created presentations are simple and straight forward with great visuals to help tell the story. The first is a 20-minute presentation ideal for sharing information with and educating community members, employees, legislators, regulatory agency personnel and insurance company representatives about ResponsibleAg. The second is a 60-minute presentation created for use at state agribusiness association meetings, public meetings and facility tours. In fact, Pete Mutschler debuted this version during the National Safety School last month. Both new presentations will be used by trained representatives of ResponsibleAg at meetings throughout the United States.Back to Top
We would like to remind all auditors that the audit entry system will be down for annual routine maintenance. For your convenience this will take place over the holidays, from December 21st, 2018 to January 4th, 2019. Access to the website will be limited during this time. Therefore, please ensure all remaining 2018 audit results are entered before December 21st. The last preparation packets with 2018 checklist will be shipped on October 31st. All 2018 audits must have been scheduled in the system by that date.Back to Top
Don’t delay in contacting the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) if you’re interested in receiving $50 off your registration to attend the ARA Conference and Expo 2018, November 27-29, 2018, at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, Boca Raton, FL. ARA is offering a $50 discount to one representative from each ResponsibleAg-certified facilities. The representative must be from the certified location rather than a regional or corporate office. Contact Matthew Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim the discount. Smith will verify ResponsibleAg certification status and will email a discount code for use on the ARA conference registration page. Register for the conference by November 5th to get the ARA discount on the hotel.Back to Top
If you haven’t read the latest Faces of ResponsibleAg in the August issue of CropLife magazine, make sure to check it out now. Mike Layton, Manager of Safety and Environment, GROWMARK FS, LLC, talks about his work as both Safety and Environment Manager and ResponsibleAg-accredited auditor working with 38 GROWMARK FS locations and 10 Seedway locations. Learn why he believes "voluntary participation in ResponsibleAg shows regulators and the public that our industry follows the rules because we are committed to doing a good job."Back to Top
A collaborative effort between DHS, FBI, USDA and industry has led to the analysis of data security issues involving precision agriculture and development of recommendations for controls which can help prevent associated risks. The result is a recently published white paper that details security threats related to the adoption of new digital technologies in crop and livestock production that rely on remote sensing, global positioning systems and communication systems to generate big data, data analytics and machine learning. These technologies allow more precise application of crop production inputs such as fertilizer, seeds and pesticides, resulting in lower costs and improved yields. The technologies also allow individual tracking of livestock location, activity and performance. A consequence of this rapidly advancing digital revolution is the increased risk for the agriculture sector to cyber data exposure and other vulnerabilities.
Within the white paper, the participating groups have highlighted the potential vulnerabilities, identified potential threat scenarios, and suggested possible best practices for producers and related agribusinesses to help offset potential risks of adopting precision ag technologies.
ResponsibleAg.org is the only publicly available location providing an online version of the Threats to Precision Agriculture white paper. This is a white paper everyone involved in agriculture will want to read.Back to Top
DHS recently published a flyer detailing CFATS requirements for anhydrous ammonia, which is a DHS chemical of interest. The flyer clarifies reporting requirements for individuals or facilities possessing 10,000 pounds or more of ammonia (anhydrous) — expected to be less than 10 percent water — and explains the requirements for reporting this to DHS. You can download, print and distribute this flyer for your own use and as a resource to increase awareness of the CFATS program.Back to Top
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently sent a letter to the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) responding to an ARA petition about Hours of Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). The FMCSA’s letter denied ARA’s petition but clarified that “farm supplies for agricultural purposes,” which includes fertilizers, are exempt from ELD and HOS requirements when operating within a 150 air-mile radius. Depending on state enforcement officials, it may be helpful for drivers to keep a copy of the FMCSA letter in the cab, as well as documentation to show a driver is operating within the 150 air-mile radius.Back to Top
The General Accounting Office (GAO) recently released its report on the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, which was requested last year by the Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security. The key recommendation focuses on doing a better job of sharing CFATS site security plan information with local emergency planning officials. Another aspect of the study is on the extent to which the risk-based performance standards, which are the core of the site security plans, have reduced facilities security vulnerabilities. The GAO recommended that DHS establish a baseline facility vulnerability score when they review site security plans. The baseline score will be the basis for assessing a facility’s reduction in risk when DHS conducts compliance inspections. The coalition of trade associations that have been addressing re-authorization of the CFATS program this year will review the report’s finding and determine what impact they may have on re-authorization.Back to Top
Welcome to the team, Wayne Corcoran with CHS, Inc. of Lemmon, SD. Wayne is the newest among our 2018 credentialed auditors!Back to Top
Welcome to these facilities that have recently received certification from ResponsibleAg and are now Committed, Compliant, Safe, and Certified. Congratulations to all!
ResponsibleAg is an industry-led initiative committed to helping agribusinesses properly store and handle farm input supplies. The program helps members ensure they are compliant with environmental, health, safety and security regulations to keep employees, customers and our communities safe.