ARA CEO keynotes FIRT meeting

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Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Daren Coppock served as closing speaker at the Fertilizer Industry Round Table (FIRT) meeting in Tampa, Fla., Nov. 21. He shared the podium with Raphael Moure-Eraso, Ph.D., chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, who spoke on the West Fertilizer tragedy, CSB's investigation of the incident, and possible regulatory recommendations.

Coppock offered an industry response to the West incident, addressing ARA's regulatory priorities, what changes ARA supports and which it opposes, and described how the ResponsibleAg program will address some potential regulatory and safety issues.

He highlighted three fundamental principles central to a regulatory response: 1.) Nobody wants a repeat of the tragedy that happened at West anytime, anywhere; 2.) Ag retailers provide essential services, so any solution must consider the impact on our members' ability to provide these services; and 3.) ARA wants to provide efficient, targeted and practical solutions.

ARA opposes three regulatory proposals including application of OSHA's Process Safety Management (PSM) standards to agricultural retail operations; adding Ammonium Nitrate to EPA's Risk Management Program reporting list; and imposition of arbitrary "Inherently Safer Technology" requirements on process and products in the industry.

Coppock also discussed the ResponsibleAg program and its importance in tackling the safety and public perception challenges that resulted from the West incident.

He described the status of the program as one where the proposal has been circulated and members are reviewing it and asking detail questions. "We have a meeting in early December to work through the operational questions," he said, "but the need of the industry to respond to the incident remains."

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