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Committee Members Raise Concerns about OSHA’s Intrusion into Family Farms

Dear Assistant Secretary Michaels:

We are increasingly concerned about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) reliance on guidance documents, letters of interpretation, and other non-regulatory actions to dramatically change OSHA policy. A glaring example is the June 28, 2011 enforcement guidance to regional administrators regarding family farming operations. The agency should withdraw this misguided guidance and restore long-standing policies that have served the best interests of family farms for decades.

 As you know, for nearly 40 years federal law has exempted family farms from OSHA jurisdiction. This policy has been supported by Congress and administrations dating back to the Carter administration. Now, without any public notice or review, the Obama administration has begun to overturn this legal standard through executive fiat. The June 2011 guidance redefines "farming operations" to allow OSHA inspectors onto family farms. Under the agency's new and unprecedented logic, it appears anything outside of the actual growing of crops and raising of livestock could be deemed "non-farming operations" that would subject family farms to OSHA inspections.

To read the full letter, click here.

To read the Department of Labor's response, click here.

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