Federal regulators have backed off of their stance that they can write rules for certain farm operations, much to the delight of the Nebraska Congressional delegation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had fined a Holt County, Nebraska farm $132,000 in 2011 for how it dried and stored grain. The agency had considered such post-harvest activity as separate from the farming activity it was prohibited from regulating.
Sen. Mike Johanns intervened in the Nebraska case, arguing Congress doesn’t allow OSHA to regulate farms with 10 or fewer employees. OSHA relented and issued new guidelines recognizing such activities are integral to farming.
“They didn’t really have any business trying to regulate family farms in the first place. So, I think it’s good news that they’re obeying the law,” Johanns says.
Johanns had gone so far as to insert language in a budget bill clarifying that OSHA had no business regulating family farm activity. He led 42 Senate colleagues in a bipartisan letter demanding OSHA quit regulating small farms.
Congressman Adrian Smith agrees with Johanns that OSHA’s decision is good news.
“It was not the intent of Congress to authorize OSHA to regulate small farms and so we pushed back and I’m glad that OSHA responded accordingly,” Smith says.
Johanns adds he hopes the OSHA move can serve as an example to other federal agencies which he believes are overstepping the authority granted them by Congress.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]