Michelle Hummel
Michelle Hummel

In recent years, the amount of regulatory and public relations challenges facing agricultural retailers and others in agribusiness has grown significantly. The results of the recent elections indicate that this is not going to change anytime soon. However, if you’re an agricultural retailer, distributor or industry suppler, you have a major ally in your battle against these challenges with the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA).

For many years now, ARA has been helping your business in numerous ways by serving as an advocate for agricultural retailers and distributors in Washington, D.C. For ARA members, the association is also providing additional services to help your business through valuable networking opportunities, timely updates on legislative and regulatory issues, educational programs, business tools and consulting services on specific business and policy-related challenges your business may face.

ARA’S ADVOCACY WORK IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

ARA has a very diverse membership that sells a wide range of products and services to farmers, and there are many issues for us to tackle as a result. With the support of ARA member companies and strategic partnerships with allied industry organizations, here are just a few of our major accomplishments on behalf of the industry in recent years.

Ag Business Security Tax Credit: Initiated legislation that provides a tax credit for all pesticide and fertilizer retailers and distributors that improve on-site security at their facilities. Eligible companies could receive a credit up to $2 million annually. ARA is working to ensure this credit is extended beyond 2012.

Hours of Service (HOS) Ag Exemption: Worked with allied organizations to secure protection for the agricultural hours of service (AgHOS) exemption, which ensures the timely delivery of crop inputs throughout the supply chain during busy seasons.

Revised Hazardous Materials Out-of-Service Rates: Convinced FMCSA to revise threshold crash rate and driver, vehicle, and hazardous materials (HM) out-of-service (OOS) rates for issuance of hazardous materials safety permits (HMSP). The disqualification rate will now use eight years of data.

Chemical Facility Security: Successfully removed urea fertilizer from the DHS “Chemicals of Interest” list and raised the threshold amount for anhydrous ammonia under CFATS regulations.

ARA Model Fertilizer Contract: An important tool developed by ARA in 2009 with input from the ag retailers and the entire fertilizer supply chain. Now, ARA is in the process of developing model fertilizer trade rules.  

Spill Prevention, Control & Countermeasures (SPCC): Worked with EPA and an industry coalition to raise a facility’s minimum volume stored amount of oil to 10,000 gallons before requiring a Professional Engineer certification and inspection under the SPCC Rule. EPA initially set this limit at 1,320 gallons.

Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): ARA and allied organizations secured passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), authorizing much needed improvements to lock and dam systems. The bill also addresses flood control, hurricane protection, water supply and irrigation.  

Ag Labor: Joined other agricultural groups in persuading the Department of Labor (DOL) to withdraw a proposed regulation regarding farm employment of minors after convincing the agency those restrictions would unfairly impact family farms.

Product Availability: Worked to obtain deregulation of many new seed traits, including biotech seed for crops such as alfalfa and sugar beets. ARA testimony was also provided at key regulatory hearings to help ensure crop inputs, such as atrazine, stay in the marketplace.

Protecting GPS Systems: Worked with lawmakers and an industry coalition to block efforts by LightSquared to implement a new broadband service that would have caused major interference to GPS systems critical to agriculture productivity.

ADDITIONAL ARA MEMBER BENEFITS

The public policy work that ARA does on behalf of agricultural retailers and distributors is our number one priority. However, if your company is an ARA member, your business also receives these additional benefits and resources from the association.

Networking: Collaborate with fellow industry peers; discover opportunities and identify solutions to challenges for the agricultural industry.

Policy Influence: ARA represents all aspects of your business in Washington, D.C., with Congress and federal agencies.

Strength: With more than 6,500 retail locations and growing, ARA is the largest retailer/distributor organization in America representing with one united voice—you and the agricultural industry.

Information: Access to critical information is at your fingertips 24/7 through our state-of-the-art website and mobile app at www.aradc.org. Timely and relevant updates are provided to ARA members through our biweekly Retailer Fact$ newsletter and Member Alerts.

Interpretation: ARA works closely with federal agencies to provide clarity to new regulations and offer information to ARA members in a format that’s easy to read and understand.

Compliance: ARA assists members in understanding and complying with federal regulations.

Employee Development: Develop managers and leaders in your organization through our educational programs.

Leadership: Steer the future of the industry through involvement in committees and our peer elected board.

Orientation: Receive a notebook summary of product and services offered to new members, and an opportunity to visit the D.C. office for personal orientation.

Proud Member Logo: Reinforce your professionalism, credibility and dedication to the industry through use of the ARA Proud Member logo.

Annual Conference & Expo: Network with others in the agriculture industry and discover practical solutions for the challenges facing your business at the ARA Conference & Expo.

Staff Access: Personal, one-on-one service concerning policies, compliance and member services. ARA employees are also available to speak at member company meetings.  

If you are interested in learning more about ARA membership, contact Donnie Taylor, ARA’s vice president of membership and corporate relations at (202) 457-0825 or Donnie@aradc.org.