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OSHA goes after the farm

[ Edited ]



part of the article in WSJ today. 1/1/2014


Tom Perez's Labor enforcers go after the family farm.


Perhaps someone should have looked at OSHA's case against Ohio's Haerr Grain Farms before issuing citations. This is another case without even an allegation that anyone has been harmed. According to co-owner Scott Haerr, the father-son partnership has one full-time employee and the grain storage occurs at the same location as the farm—not that farmers shouldn't be free to store their property wherever they want.

Mr. Haerr says two OSHA inspectors showed up at harvest time this year without warning. When he asked why they were there, he says he was told, "We don't bother family farms." Mr. Haerr responded that his operation was a family farm, to which one inspector responded, "Well, you have an employee."

To review, OSHA inspectors are specifically barred under the law from setting foot on farms with 10 or fewer employees. But the act of creating a job in agriculture apparently now makes one eligible for an extra-legal federal investigation. Is this the Obama economic plan for 2014? In a later meeting with an OSHA official, Mr. Haerr's attorney asked where OSHA's jurisdiction ended on a farm like his. Mr. Haerr says there was no clear answer, other than an assurance that the agency would not regulate anything inside his house.

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