WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) condemned the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for what he called its illegal action imposing costly regulatory burdens on small, family-owned farms. He will ask Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to direct OSHA to cease all actions contrary to Congressional direction with regards to regulating family-owned farms with less than 10 employees.
"My intent is to stop OSHA in their tracks," Johanns said. "The simple reality is OSHA inspectors are the ones breaking the law, not hard-working ag producers in Nebraska and across the country. This administration - whether it's the EPA or now OSHA - has placed a target on the backs of ranchers and farmers when it comes to pursuing an ever-expanding regulatory agenda. Congress has been clear for decades that costly OSHA regulations do not apply to small, family-run farms. Now OSHA is making up its own rules, and that's unacceptable.
"Worker safety is an important concern, but farmers know better than bureaucrats how to keep their employees and family safe."
Congress has included language in appropriations bills since 1976 expressly prohibiting OSHA enforcement actions against farmers with 10 or fewer employees. One of the farms targeted by OSHA is in Holt County, Neb. OSHA claims grain bins are not part of farm operations and thus are not exempt. Under that logic, nearly every farm in the country would be outside the scope of Congress' exemption because almost all farms use some sort of grain storage facility as part of their normal farm operations.
The OSHA fines against this farm total approximately $132,000. No injuries have occurred.