Hoeven: Court Decision Ensures Farmers Have Access to Affordable Fertilizer

Senator’s Introduced Legislation to Prevent Implementation of Rule in 2016, 2017

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today said a D.C. Court of Appeals decision to stop the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) new anhydrous rule is a positive step for farmers in North Dakota and across the nation. The court decision prevents OSHA from going forward with its anhydrous rule until it follows the proper notice-and-comment procedures.

“We stopped OSHA’s anhydrous ammonia regulation from being implemented in Fiscal Year 2016, and we have legislation moving right now that would prevent the rule from being implemented in Fiscal Year 2017,” Hoeven said. “Now, today’s court ruling sends OSHA back to square one to ensure that producers are heard. That’s essential not only because the regulation would be a hardship for farmers, but also because consumers will ultimately foot the bill paying higher food prices.”

In December, the senator introduced and worked to pass legislation preventing OSHA from implementing a regulation forcing agricultural retail facilities to comply with the same chemical storage requirements as a wholesale facility. This would have caused many retailers to stop selling to farmers at rural locations and threaten to limit the supply of anhydrous ammonia, a nitrogen fertilizer that is critically important to producers. Earlier this year, Hoeven included language in the Senate Fiscal Year 2017 Labor-HHS appropriations bill prohibiting OSHA from implementing it in 2017. The legislation passed out of committee by a large bipartisan majority vote.

Rural suppliers have said the OSHA rule would cause them to stop supplying fertilizer, which would create hardship and expense for farmers because they would have to travel further to purchase it. In June, the N.D. Department of Agriculture estimated that as a result of OSHA’s policy change, 275 North Dakota agriculture retail facilities would be subject to this more stringent storage regulation. The resulting cost of compliance could force nearly 90 of them to shut down.

Further, the senator sent a letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez earlier this year calling on him to work through the formal rule-making process, engage with local stakeholders and respond to the Freedom of Information Act Requests submitted by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. Earlier this month, the senator also arranged a meeting between senior Department of Labor officials and North Dakota dealers.