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January 13, 2014

Approps Package Includes Johanns’ Language to Rein In OSHA’s Regulatory Overreach

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today announced that his language restraining efforts by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to expand their regulatory reach was included in a report accompanying the omnibus appropriations bill. Johanns’ language clarifies a more than three-decades-old provision legally prohibiting OSHA from regulating farms with fewer than 10 employees.

“The inclusion of this language makes it very clear that OSHA does not have the authority to harass family farmers,” Johanns said. “This is more than a victory for our ag producers. It is a win for our economy and the law. It’s unfortunate Congress had to reiterate the law in order for OSHA to follow it – despite a decades-old legal precedent – but with this Administration in regulatory overdrive, we must stay vigilant. OSHA and other agencies should immediately back off attempts to expand their regulatory powers by harassing Americans working to get our economy moving.”

OSHA issued a memo in 2011 claiming the agency could regulate certain types of grain handling activity on small or family-run farms, despite a clear legal prohibition.  Johanns called for OSHA to stop this regulatory overreach and led 42 of his colleagues in a bipartisan letter demanding the agency immediately stop the unlawful regulation of family farms.

The report language is below:

• “The bill continues the exemption of small farming operations from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation. The OSHA is encouraged to work with the Department of Agriculture before moving forward with any attempts to redefine and regulate post-harvest activities, to include, but not limited to, storing, drying, grinding, and other activities necessary to market farm products to subsequent users in the agricultural value chain, and clarify that this exemption shall apply to on farm post-harvest activities.”

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