By TIM ALEXANDER
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The new Asmark Agricenter in Bloomington will be the setting for three one-day farmer education seminars on farm safety hazards in 2013, the Illinois Corn Growers Assoc. (ICGA), hosting the events, has announced.
The Jan. 9 and 18 and Feb. 1 sessions will focus on anhydrous ammonia safety, compliance and enforcement, oil spill prevention and pesticide containment regulations.
“Safety and regulatory compliance will continue to become more prevalent in the agriculture industry. (ICGA) continues to advocate for voluntary training instead of mandatory requirements, and we hope that our membership will find these sessions of value,” said Paul Taylor, ICGA president.
Reducing the number of on-farm incidents that might prompt future government regulation is the overriding goal of the Farmer Safety Sessions, explained Kevin Runkle, manager of regulatory services for the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Assoc. (IFCA), which is providing support for them.
He said the impetus for the producer-oriented program was provided by a higher-than-usual number of accidents involving farmers’ use of anhydrous ammonia during 2012.
“We already had a program for ag retailers and we modified it for producers,” he said.
“These (sessions) are all geared towards producer compliance with regulations.”
With federal and state agencies increasing their inspection programs, the Asmark Institute, ICGA and IFCA have created five mini-sessions for each meeting addressing a range of farm safety and compliance issues. The topics include Keep it for the Crop (KIC) by 2025 (8:30-9:30 a.m.), Anhydrous Ammonia Safety Training for Farmers (9:30-11:30 a.m.), U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Compliance & Regulatory Enforcement (12:30-2 p.m.), Oil Spill Prevention Control Countermeasures (SPCC) Plan (2:15-3:15 p.m.) and On-Farm Containment/Pesticide Mini-Bulk Regulations (3:15-4 p.m.).
KIC by 2025 was created to educate the agricultural sector and dedicate resources toward research to reduce nutrient losses and enhance nutrient efficiency. Producers will be instructed on the adoption of the four Rs of nutrient application: right source, right rate, right time, right place.
According to Illinois Department of Agriculture statistics, 17 people were hospitalized for ag-related exposure to NH3, or liquid anhydrous ammonia, during the spring 2012 application season. The ammonia handling session for producers will focus on NH3 properties and characteristics, safety and first aid, transfer and handling, transportation safety, emergency response and regulations.
“Producers who go through this training will have the opportunity to earn a certificate of completion recognizing them as a competent attendant and graduate of an anhydrous ammonia safety training course,” said Runkle.
The mini-session focusing on USDOT safety compliance will also touch on CDL requirements and Illinois motor vehicle compliance.
“We have an Illinois State Police trooper coming in to talk about motor vehicle compliance and regulations,” said Runkle. “We’re going to cover all of the requirements” for grain hauling and transportation of ag chemicals and supplies.
Producers whose farms have been in operation since Aug. 16, 2002, who do not already have an SPCC Plan must have one in place by May 10. A mini-session will focus on the new regulation affecting operators of farms that store, transfer, use or consume oil or oil products that could be discharged into waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines such as interstate waters, lakes, rivers and streams.
Runkle said organizers are hoping approximately 160 central Illinois producers will attend each complete session, or over 450 in all. He described those who might attend as farmers, their families, farm managers, farm employees and others employed in the agriculture industry.
“The focus for these particular sessions is on outreach to central Illinois farmers, though we encourage farmers from throughout the state to attend. Depending on the success of this program, we will determine whether to offer future producer safety sessions,” Runkle said.
The cost to producers is $175 ($100 for ICGA members), which includes lunch, conference materials and safety gear. To register to attend one of the sessions, call the ICGA office at 309-557-3257. The Asmark Agricenter is located at 14171 Carole Drive in Bloomington.