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Farm Bureau: OSHA Overreach on Grain Bins Must End

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 4, 2014 – A guidance memo produced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on grain bins and grain storage should be withdrawn because it provides authority for enforcement activities on small farms that are exempt under law, the American Farm Bureau Federation told Congress today. While Farm Bureau has always made farm safety a priority, the OSHA memo overreaches agency authority and circumvents clear legislative language, according to Farm Bureau.

“Farm Bureau understands OSHA’s concerns with grain bin safety,” said Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation, testifying to the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections on behalf of AFBF. Further, noted VanderWal, “Farm Bureau remains committed to grain bin and farm safety generally. Had OSHA reached out to Farm Bureau and others in agriculture we would have been eager to work with them to develop additional safety training programs if necessary to prevent injury.”

Instead, OSHA inspectors have forged ahead with investigations of farmers in areas where agency authority is limited, if not entirely restricted by Congress, said VanderWal.

“Congressional intent is clear that this language was adopted to protect small farms and should be interpreted broadly to protect farms with fewer than 10 employees and no labor camp,” VanderWal explained.

He closed by calling on Congress to take action to prevent OSHA’s continued regulatory overreach.

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Contacts:   Mace Thornton
(202) 406-3641
macet@fb.org
  Cyndie Sirekis
(202) 406-3649
cyndies@fb.org