The Agricultural Retailers Association released its top six policy priorities for 2016. The priorities include OSHA's PSM retail exemption, Clean Water Act jurisdiction, water transportation infrastructure, a federal GMO labeling standard, a pro-growth economic agenda, and energy and technology.

1. OSHA Process Safety Management Retail Exemption

Issue Summary

  • Last year, OSHA changed the definition of the Process Safety Management retail exemption through a guidance memo, instead of a rulemaking.

  • Ag retail facilities selling anhydrous ammonia have been exempt from PSM since the regulation’s inception, but will no longer be exempt. Industry estimates total compliance costs to be more than $100 million. The average initial cost per facility is $27,500, which far exceeds OSHA’s estimate of $2,160 per facility.

  • The storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia is already regulated by OSHA under 29 CFR 1910.111.

  • The FY 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act prohibits OSHA from going forward unless the Census Bureau establishes a new NAICS for Farm Supply Retailers and OSHA conducts formal rulemaking.

ARA Position

  • Congress must require OSHA to conduct formal rulemaking before implementing any change to the PSM retail exemption.

2. Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

Issue Summary

  • EPA has issued final regulations to expand the definition of waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act.

  • In 2009, courts overturned EPA’s 2006 rule exempting aquatic pesticide applications from National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting.

  • Unprecedented federal permitting is an unnecessary duplication of regulation.  More Applicators will need permits under WOTUS.

  • Strong bipartisan support for a legislative solution exists in the House and Senate.

ARA Position

  • Congress must block EPA’s WOTUS regulations and amend NPDES to protect applicators from duplicative requirements and legal liability.

3. Water Transportation Infrastructure

Issue Summary

  • The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) must return to two-year budget cycles to ensure Congress provides sufficient resources and oversight of key inland waterway projects.

ARA Position

  • Support reauthorization of WRDA, including construction of new locks on the Mississippi, Illinois and other key inland waterway systems.

4. Federal GMO Labeling Standard

Issue Summary

  • Genetically modified organisms have been an important part of our nation’s food supply for decades.

  • Every major scientific and health organization has concluded GMOs are safe for humans and environment.

  • Grocery costs could increase hundreds of dollars per year for families under patchwork state and local GMO labeling mandates.

  • Consumers expect consistent food labeling.

  • More information: www.coalitionforsafeaffordablefood.org or www.gmoanswers.com.

ARA Position

  • Support the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which would reaffirm the FDA’s role as the authority for food safety and labeling requirements.

5. Pro-Growth Economic Agenda

Issue Summary

  • Support workable sales and use tax collection systems that protect retailers and farmers from burdensome tax compliance requirements.
  • The complex tax code stifles economic growth. ARA supports comprehensive tax reform while defending provisions beneficial to the agricultural industry and American small businesses.
  • Support STARS Act, which would reform burdensome and costly provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Current full-time equivalency formula for seasonal workers does not adequately address needs of agricultural industry.

ARA Position

  • Support comprehensive tax reform.
  • Fix ACA provisions adversely impacting agriculture and other industries.

6. Energy and Technology

Issue Summary

  • Support federal energy policies to increase domestic natural gas supplies, reduce U.S. production costs for crop input materials, and promote development and use of renewable fuels.
  • Support advancements in precision agriculture such as drift reduction technology, unmanned aerial vehicle research and development of rural broadband.

ARA Position

  • Invest in biofuel research and production and work with the Coalition to Advance Precision Agriculture and the Rural Broadband Coalition to promote and support industry growth.