The Occupational Safety and Health Administration last week moved to drop its case against a Nebraska farm for violations involving grain bins, U.S. Senator Mike Johanns, R-Neb., confirms.
Johanns said OSHA's decision is "an important step in bringing the agency back in line with the law."
OSHA had fined the farm $132,000 for violations. Previously, OSHA said the grain bins on the farm, which employs one person, were not part of farm operations and thus were not exempt from regulation.
Johanns caught wind of the issue late last year and said that per a 1976 federal law, OSHA-appropriated funds could not be used to regulate farms with fewer than 10 employees.
"OSHA had no business regulating this family farm to begin with," Johanns said. "I'm pleased they are doing the right thing by correctly dropping the case. Producers shouldn't have to worry about the government placing undue and illegal burdens on their operations. The law clearly exempts small farms from OSHA regulations, and I'm glad the agency took this step to get back in line with the law."
Earlier this year, Johanns' language clarifying the 1976 provision that excludes family farms with fewer than 10 employees from being regulated by OSHA was included in the omnibus appropriations package.
Johanns also led 42 Senate colleagues in a bipartisan letter demanding the agency immediately stop the regulation of family farms. Since then, OSHA has pledged to clarify its policies on regulating the activity of these farms.