IFB comments on proposed anhydrous rule

By Kay Shipman

The Illinois Farm Bureau supports more mandatory safety training for Illinois growers and grower farm operators who transport or apply anhydrous ammonia, or otherwise maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment as proposed in state rule amendments in recently submitted written comments to the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA).

“For over a decade, IFB has worked with the other farmer groups in Illinois, as well as the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA), to regularly remind our farmer members about the requirements regarding safe transportation and application of anhydrous ammonia each spring and fall application season,” IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. wrote to IDOA.

Under the proposal, growers or grower farm operators who transport or apply or otherwise maintain equipment would be trained in safe operating practices and steps needed during an emergency or a leak.

A “grower farm operator” is defined as an individual employed by or otherwise authorized by a grower to transport or apply anhydrous ammonia, or to otherwise maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment. These individuals include grower family members, full-time and part-time hired help, and others providing anhydrous ammonia services at no fee.

“We believe these regulations will improve safety for the agricultural community and help reduce accidents that can impact the lives and health of emergency responders and citizens,” Guebert wrote, adding IFB is willing to help IDOA and other farm groups develop training materials and to promote a new mandatory training requirement to members.

Proposed changes specify the training should be offered free to growers and grower farm operators in an online program on IDOA’s website or an IDOA-approved attendance-based training program. For consistency, IFB recommended the use of a single online program and set of classroom materials.

The proposed rules require a grower or grower farm operator to keep a copy of the certificate after completing training. IFB encouraged IDOA to consider farmers’ privacy concerns if a private entity, such as an agricultural retailer, seeks a list of certified trained farmers. Verification of trained farmers “is outside the scope of the prepared rule,” Guebert wrote.