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DOL Revokes Controversial Family-Farming Guidance

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) released the following joint statement after the Department of Labor announced in a letter to the committee the withdrawal of controversial enforcement guidance affecting family farms:

The department’s family-farming guidance was flawed and legally suspect. We are pleased this misguided policy has been withdrawn, and the department has recognized the legitimate concerns of policymakers and family farmers. Ensuring a safe and healthy work environment is a goal we all share. However, that goal cannot be reached when federal agencies rewrite the law through executive fiat. We hope the department will engage in a sincere dialogue with other federal agencies and concerned stakeholders to ensure our nation’s farmers are protected.

BACKGROUND: Since 1971 OSHA has been responsible for enforcing federal workplace safety and health standards. Congress has adopted statutory language since 1978 that prevents OSHA from inspecting farms with 10 or fewer employees. This policy has been signed into law by presidents dating back to the Carter administration. However, in 2011, without any public notice or review, the Obama administration released guidance that redefined “farming operations” in order to allow OSHA inspectors onto family farms.

Concerned by this blatant attempt to circumvent the law and the will of Congress, committee Republicans raised objections and urged the department to withdraw the guidance. In a letter received by the committee, the department announced it had removed the guidance from its website and will work with the Department of Agriculture and interested stakeholders on an appropriate policy.

To read the letter from committee Republicans, click here.

To read the response by the Department of Labor, click  here

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