Grain News

MS Senators Welcome Formal OSHA Exemption For Small Farm Operations

Date Posted: August 4, 2014

Washington—U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., welcomed the issuance of formal documentation affirming that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will honor congressional prohibitions against encumbering small family-owned farms with federal grain storage regulations.

Wicker and Cochran are among the lawmakers who have actively fought a guidance memorandum issued by OSHA in 2011 that would have made small farms subject to onerous grain storage regulations--a violation of a prohibition set in law since 1976.

This week, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a formal memorandum that confirms small farms will not be subjected to the OSHA grain storage rules.

“This burdensome regulation would have significantly jeopardized the livelihoods of many hard-working farm families in Mississippi,” Wicker said.

“Although I am pleased that the Labor Department will not force small farm operations to go along with these severe rules, our fight against Washington’s regulatory assault continues.

"To protect Mississippi’s vibrant agricultural tradition, we must continue to stand up to such government overreach.”

“This is a win in the fight for small farming operations and for those of us who want to rein in overzealous federal regulators,” said Cochran, ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“The new Labor Department directive affirms what we knew to be the case -- that small farm grain storage operations are exempt from the burden of these rules.”

Under pressure from Senate and House lawmakers, OSHA in February agreed to withdraw a 2011 guidance memorandum on regulating small farms with grain storage.

Cochran, Wicker and others fought that instructional memorandum, which they asserted violated a long-standing congressional prohibition on OSHA regulation of small farms and placed a potentially costly burden on more than 300,000 farms in the United States with on-farm grain storage.

The new memo is the byproduct of a commitment made by OSHA when it withdrew the 2011 guidance memo to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and organizations representing farmers to clarify rules regarding grain storage.

The document says OSHA will adhere to the congressional prohibition against regulating on farming operations with 10 or fewer employees and spells out the activities not related to farming operations that would not be exempt.

For more information, call 202-224-6253.

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