Hoeven Working to Ensure Farmers Have Access to Affordable Fertilizer

Senator Calls on Labor Secretary to Rescind Fertilizer Restrictions, Work with State Ag Department & Farmers

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week sent a letter to Thomas Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor, calling on him to rescind the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed restrictions on retail fertilizer sales. Last year, OSHA proposed new restrictions on fertilizer sales that would force agriculture retail facilities to comply with the same chemical storage requirements as a wholesale facility. The rule would cause many retailers to stop selling to farmers at rural locations and threatened to limit the supply of anhydrous ammonia, a nitrogen fertilizer that is critically important to producers.

“Fertilizer is already one of our farmers’ largest costs, and OSHA’s proposed rule will only increase this burden on our agriculture producers’ budgets,” Hoeven said. “During a time when our farmers are already struggling with low commodity prices, we should not add to their financial hardships. We successfully prevented this rule from being implemented for the current fiscal year. I urge Secretary Perez and OSHA to use this time to work with our farmers, fertilizer retailers and the N.D. Department of Agriculture to address this matter in a way that doesn’t needlessly increase costs on our producers and consumers.”

In his letter, Hoeven stressed that OSHA’s cost estimates are unrealistic and exceed the compliance cost threshold established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), requiring the rule to undergo review. The senator pressed Secretary Perez 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. Further, Hoeven noted the rule cannot be implemented in Fiscal Year 2016 due to language he successfully included in the year-end legislation in December.

The full text of Senator Hoeven’s letter can be found here.