In a huge victory for American agriculture retailers and farmers, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violated the law when it changed its interpretation of regulations affecting agricultural retail facilities that supply anhydrous ammonia.
In July 2015, OSHA issued an enforcement memorandum that redefined the retail facility exemption to the Process Safety Management Standard. These changes would have subjected 3,800 agricultural retailers to regulations intended for chemical manufacturers, at a cost of more than $100 million. These compliance costs could have driven many facilities out of business, leading to higher costs for farmers as well as increasing travel distances to transport the product. The Agricultural Retailers Association and The Fertilizer Institute led the legal challenge.
“This court decision is a big win for farmers and the ag community,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “Not only does this ruling protect farmers’ safe and affordable access to an important crop nutrient technology, but it also affirms that OSHA and other regulatory agencies must follow proper rulemaking procedures. That includes allowing for public notice and comment.”
“When government agencies are making rules that affect day-to-day farming operations, farmers should be invited to the table to have input on those decisions. At the same time, we in agriculture have a responsibility to come to the table with constructive solutions that can work for everyone. NCGA is committed to working with OSHA on how anhydrous ammonia and other technologies are regulated,” said Bowling.
The court ruled OSHA must first go through the formal notice and comment rulemaking process before implementing new standards on anhydrous ammonia retailers.
But for some retailers, it may be too late.
North Dakota Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring.
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