Extension Ag Update
November/December 2003
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US DOT Security Plan for Farmers?

Bruce E. Paulsrud, Extension Specialist, Urbana, 217-244-9646, paulsrud@uiuc.edu
Source: Illinois Pesticide Review Vol. 16, No.6

"Persons, including farmers, who ship or transport hazardous materials in commerce in amounts that require the shipment to be placarded must develop and implement security plans by September 25, 2003. Examples of materials to which the security plan requirement applies include explosives such as dynamite or detonators, pesticides, fertilizers such as anhydrous ammonia or ammonium nitrate, and fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and propane.

- "If you ship or transport fertilizers, pesticides, gasoline, diesel fuel, or propane in packages or containers that are larger than 119 gallons or the total quantity you ship or transport at any one time is more than 1,000 pounds, then you must have a security plan.

- "If your supplier delivers the pesticides, fertilizers, and fuels you use to your farm, then you do not need to have a security plan.

- "If you only transport fertilizers, pesticides, and fuels between fields of your farm, then you do not need to have a security plan."

The preceding text is part of a U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) fact sheet (HMR-4922) entitled "Hazardous Materials Transportation Security Requirements: Applicability to Farmers and Farming Operations." This fact sheet was available from US DOT's Web site earlier this fall, but now it is gone. You're not alone if you're asking, "Where did all of this come from, and what happened to the fact sheet?"

The Rest of the Story

On March 25, 2003, the final rule for "Hazardous Materials: Security Requirements for Offerors and Transporters of Hazardous Materials" was published in the Federal Register (vol. 68, no. 57; http://hazmat.dot.gov/rules/68fr-14509.htm). In a nutshell, the revised regulations require that shippers and carriers must

1. Have a written security plan in place by September 25, 2003.

2. Train all HAZMAT employees (any person under your corporate control who performs any task covered by hazardous materials regulations) on the written security plan by December 22, 2003.

3. Provide all HAZMAT employees with security-awareness training.

With heightened national security concerns, it is no surprise that the existing hazardous materials regulations would be reevaluated and modified in some way. What is surprising is that farmers appear to have been sucked into the regulations this time. Or did they? As I understand it, US DOT put the security-plan requirement for farmers on hold and is discussing the issue with USDA, state departments of transportation, and the American Farm Bureau. The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA; www.ifca.com) has also been active in this arena and sponsored several workshops across Illinois this summer to help its dealer members prepare US DOT security plans.

At this time, it is not clear how this regulatory change will affect farmers. Will farmers need a security plan in place to pick up certain pesticides in mini-bulk containers or anhydrous ammonia tanks from their dealer? These are just a few of the questions that have been raised. In addition, there are logistical and enforcement questions that need answers. As this issue unfolds, stay tuned by talking with your dealers and farm and commodity organizations.