Labor HHS Appropriations Bill Rescinds Fertilizer Storage Restrictions

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the new Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education Appropriations bill passed out of committee today includes a provision that prohibits the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from imposing new restrictions on fertilizer sales and forcing agriculture retailers to comply with the same chemical storage requirements as wholesale facilities. 

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has been working to prevent the restrictions from being implemented, which would hurt North Dakota producers. The language in the Labor HHS bill 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.

“Before it’s even been implemented, this regulation has already caused nine facilities to close in North Dakota, and several more have indicated they intend to shut down after this spring planting season,” Hoeven said. “Many companies are currently on the fence with their decision to continue selling anhydrous.”

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.

Hoeven worked successfully to prevent the rule from being implemented for the current fiscal year by including language in the year-end funding legislation passed in December. In a letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez sent earlier this year, the senator pressed 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.