Hoeven Working to Make Sure Farmers Have Access to Affordable Fertilizer

Senator Meets with Leaders from Central Plains Ag Services to Hear Firsthand About the Negative Consequences that Would Arise from OSHA Regulation

HANNAFORD, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today met managers of Central Plains Ag Services and farm group leaders in Hannaford to update them on his work to ensure reliable and convenient access to anhydrous fertilizer for farmers in the 2017 growing season. Last December, the senator introduced and worked to pass legislation in the year-end funding bill preventing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (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.

This year, Hoeven has included language in the Senate FY17 Labor-HHS appropriations bill to prevent this from happening in 2017. The legislation passed out of committee by a large bipartisan majority vote.

“We stopped the rule from being implemented in Fiscal Year 2016, and we have legislation moving right now that will prevent OSHA’s anhydrous ammonia regulation from being implemented in Fiscal Year 2017,” Hoeven said. “Today I heard over and over again how burdensome this regulation would be for farmers and ag producers like Central Plains Ag Services, but also for consumers who will ultimately foot the bill paying higher food prices. This is already a tough time for farmers because of low commodity prices, and adding even more expenses to their operations would only cause greater financial hardships.”

Many rural suppliers have said the OSHA rule would cause them to stop supplying fertilizer, which would create real 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, and that the resulting cost of compliance could force nearly 90 of them to shut down.

Senator Hoeven has worked on a variety of fronts to stop OSHA’s proposed regulation. He included language in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 and FY17 appropriations bills prohibiting OSHA from implementing new restrictions on fertilizer sales and requiring OSHA to go through the formal rulemaking process, which would give retailers and farmers a voice in the decision before OSHA can implement a new regulation.

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.