IFB submits comments on anhydrous training

The bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) Wednesday addressed state anhydrous ammonia rule amendments proposed for second notice by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). After reviewing the text, Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. submitted written comments about the details of the grower safety training certification.

IDOA had proposed more mandatory safety training for Illinois growers and grower farm operators who transport or apply anhydrous ammonia, or otherwise maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment.

In the amendment approved by JCAR, 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.

In IFB’s comments, Guebert recommended the state initially require new mandatory training certification no later than April 1, 2022.

“Although the exact number is not yet certain, some estimates indicate that there are as many as 5,000 growers and grower farm operators who will be required to be trained under this new requirement,” Guebert wrote. Without an initial certification deadline in the rules, one might assume the requirement would take effect immediately.

Training of that many individuals “causes several challenges at any time, but particularly in the middle of a global pandemic,” he wrote.

“IFB plans to offer both online and in-person training programs to growers and grower farm operators in conjunction with IDOA, other farmer groups and the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association,” Guebert continued.

The new requirement specifies 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.

IFB plans to continue discussions with IDOA, the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association and other agriculture groups on the next steps needed to implement online training, according to Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of environmental policy.

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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