Hoeven: Legislation Prevents New OSHA Regs Threatening to Limit Supply of Fertilizer for Farmers

If Implemented, Rule Could Force the Closure of Nearly 90 Ag Retail Facilities

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that he worked to include language in legislation Congress passed in December that prevents the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from imposing new restrictions on fertilizer sales that would cause many retailers to stop selling to farmers at rural locations. The rule threatened to limit the supply of anhydrous ammonia, a nitrogen fertilizer that is critically important to producers.

OSHA had planned to revoke a “retail” exemption in 2016, which would have forced agriculture retail facilities to comply with the same chemical storage requirements as a wholesale facility. The language Hoeven worked to get in the legislation, however, requires OSHA to go through the rule-making process to give retailers and farmers a voice in the decision before it can implement the new rule.

“Anhydrous has long been a staple source of quality fertilizer for farmers in North Dakota and across the nation and has not posed a problem,” Hoeven said. “This new rule would have added another layer of bureaucracy and expense to retailers and producers, which would eventually be passed on to the consumer. In the course of the appropriations process, we were able to prevent that from happening, but we still need to make sure the rule is not implemented at all.”

“The Fertilizer Institute greatly appreciates the efforts of Senator Hoeven and his colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure that the approximately 3,800 agricultural retailers impacted by this major rule change are offered an opportunity to provide input during the rulemaking process and are given adequate time for compliance,” said Chris Jahn, President of the Fertilizer Institute.

Many rural suppliers have said the OSHA rule would cause them to stop supplying fertilizer, which would create real hardship and expense for farmers, who would have to travel further to get it. 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 these more stringent storage regulations, and that the resulting cost of compliance could force nearly 90 of them to shut down.