AAI COVID-19 ACTIVITIES FOR AGRIBUSINESS
The Emergency Declarations due to COVID-19 continue to be issued frequently. We are in regular communication with our many partners at the state and federal levels to stay abreast of changes and continue to work toward additional answers for a number of pressing issues that affect Agribusiness Association of Iowa members.
The current end date for the Emergency Declaration in Iowa is April 16, 2020. This can be extended by Governor Kim Reynolds if the COVID-19 virus outbreak requires it.
Pesticide Applicator Testing
All applicators with a valid certification on December 31, 2019 have until the end of 2020 to renew.
WHAT’S AHEAD – AAI is working with IDALS and several of our members to find ways to bring on new applicators. This may take the form of “Applicator Trainees” or “Applicator Apprentices” or some other title that will not need meet the ordinary requirement of Certified Applicators. Watch for more information to come soon on this issue. We understand the urgency surrounding this issue for those of you in the agronomy retail business.
Commercial Drivers Licenses & Transportation
Requirements for renewals have been postponed during the Emergency Declaration.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provided guidance that explicitly states movement of agricultural goods, including fertilizer, seed, and other inputs, is covered by the Emergency Declaration as essential. The Hours of Service requirements are waived during the emergency when hauling essential goods.
At the state level, weights have been increased to 90,000 pounds on state roadways, much like during a harvest proclamation. This does not apply to Interstate roadways.
WHAT’S AHEAD – This issue is multi-layered and requires coordination between federal and state regulators. AAI continues to work with national partners and the state DOT on rules that would qualify more drivers during the emergency, and also to find ways to license new drivers during a time when DOT testing sites are shut down due to the coronavirus. The already tight supply of CDL drivers combined with the current health pandemic, is causing large concerns in our industry.
Valero Not Honoring Contracts
This week, ethanol producer Valero notified corn suppliers that they will not honor contracts to buy corn in at least two of their Iowa locations. We understand margins are very tight in this business, and because of this, we expect additional temporary closings of ethanol facilities in Iowa and around the country. However, we anticipate arbitration, or even litigation, where there is a failure to honor contracts appropriately.
Delivery contracts for ethanol plants involve both AAI grain retail members and individual farmers. We are currently working on this issue with AAI’s legal counsel and other agricultural organizations with affected members. Once more information is known about steps moving forward, we will share additional details with our members.
A Voice for Agribusiness in Iowa
As our members continue to conduct business to the best of their ability in this uncertain time, your voice is continuing to be heard. Staff members are taking part in multiple teleconferences with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship during the week and having additional conversations to continue working on the issues you are sharing with us. We also are working and conversing with ARA, NGFA, AFIA, ASTA, and TFI to make sure we are sharing how federal issues are affecting you in Iowa.
Your input is valuable. If you have any specific concerns about how the COVID-19 response is affecting your business, that we are not already addressing, please contact anyone on our AAI staff to share those ideas and concerns. Office phones and cell numbers are listed on the website.
for the AAI COVID-19 email update from Tuesday.