The page has turned to a new year and renewed hope
for the promise that 2021 holds. With a steady increase in vaccine supply since the December emergency approvals by the Food and Drug Administration, there is cautious optimism our nation is close to turning the page on a dark chapter in our history. Spring also marks an exciting new growing season for our industry, also full of promise for a bountiful harvest. Thank you for your efforts to support this nation’s farmers and ranchers to help them maintain their place as the best in the world at producing a safe and abundant supply of food, feed, and fiber.
ARA staff has been actively working with the Biden administration,
members of Congress, and new leadership in the numerous regulatory agencies that impact agriculture. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, our usual Winter Board & Committee Meetings and in-person Hill visits transitioned to virtual meetings. Through the power of technology, we were able to meet with more than 120 congressional offices to discuss issues including trade, transportation, climate change, the economy, ag labor, and the farm bill. Our combined voice is more important than ever to help shape the conversation as it relates to agricultural policy. To that end, we need all members of the ag retail community to join ARA in that effort. Rest assured the outreach will continue throughout the year as ARA public policy staff members continue to develop relationships with members of the 117th Congress.
Infrastructure appears to be the next priority
for the administration after the passage of the latest COVID-19 relief legislation. As you are likely aware, ARA has been a supporter of infrastructure improvements for many years in its public policy plan and is a member of Rebuild Rural
, which supports transportation infrastructure investment in rural America, and the Transportation Fairness Alliance, a diverse coalition that supports a competitive and equitable transportation sector. A few key points of the ARA policy position include:
Funding for rural road and bridge improvements;
Railroad regulatory action to increase reliability and viability of short-line railroads;
Rural broadband investment and expanded service;
Programs to increase the number of CDL drivers available to our industry;
Ensuring drivers of electric vehicles pay their fair share of the cost to the Highway Trust Fund; and
Support for ethanol and biodiesel.
One challenge to the proposed $3 trillion initiative will undoubtedly be the rapidly growing federal debt, now pegged at $28 trillion by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) – a number that exceeds the size of the U.S. economy.
ARA has formed a Climate Change and Carbon Credit Working Group
to discuss challenges and opportunities for our industry related to greenhouse gas emissions, carbon, and sustainable farming practices. This working group includes a cross-section of volunteers from ARA retailer and supplier members. During their initial meeting, Chuck Spencer from GROWMARK was named the working group’s chair. The group’s first steps include the creation of a mission statement and beginning outreach to lawmakers and regulators. It is critical that agriculture has a seat at the table as discussions occur and decisions are made involving climate change in Washington, D.C. You are sure to hear more about the activities of this working group in future ARA communications.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan’s
office extended an invitation for ARA to participate in a call with ag organization leaders in late March. This was the result of your association’s initial outreach to EPA.
With the current uncertainty
regarding the direction the new administration will take on the regulatory front, now is the time to make sure you’re following the environmental, health, safety, and security (EHS&S) regulations currently in effect. Participation in the ResponsibleAg program is an easy and cost-effective way to ensure your company is compliant. To learn more about this industry-led initiative join us for a ResponsibleAg webinar at 2 pm EDT on April 8, held in partnership with ARA and The Fertilizer Institute. The session will be led by Billy Pirkle, vice president of corporate services for NovusAg, and Brian Miller, president of Miller Risk Management. Both gentlemen have a broad knowledge of the ResponsibleAg program and a combined 80+ years of EHS&S experience. You can register here to attend.
Active participation from all retailers
is vitally important to leverage the voice of our entire industry in DC. Remember, ARA is the only national association focused exclusively on issues important to the ag retail sector. There are numerous benefits associated with membership in ARA beyond the vital policy work that is so important for all of us. The ARA NAVIGATOR 360° online leadership development tool, designed to jumpstart your internal employee develop process, is just one such offering. You can learn more about what your investment in ARA membership means for your company by participating in a webinar this week
, March 31 at 2pm EDT. You can register here to attend.
The move to the new office building is complete.
The relocation combined the teams from ARA, The Fertilizer Institute, and CropLife America under one roof to improve our expense efficiency and to facilitate continued collaboration between the three agriculturally based associations. As return-to-office plans are implemented in the coming months, ARA will begin to capture the full benefits of the relocation.
Mark your calendars for the ARA Crisis Preparedness Workshop
to be held in-person on August 23-26 in Philadelphia, Penn. The program will focus on creating or refining a personalized Emergency Action Plan that is relevant, implementable, and sustainable for the needs of your business and local emergency responders. The program is targeted at environment, health, safety, and communication team members in your organization. The program features industry best practices, interactive scenarios, and a template to develop your personalized plan. Thank you to our friends at FMC for leading and sponsoring this event.
Until next quarter,
please stay safe. We hope to see you in person at the ARA Annual Conference & Expo later this year in San Antonio. Please mark your calendars for November 30 through December 2 to join us for what promises to be another fantastic ARA event.