In March, the Agribusiness Association of Iowa was among 39 other state/national organizations that signed on to a letter by the Agricultural Coalition regarding the OSHA PSM retail exemption issue. The letter was sent to the Chair and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Sub-Committee, House Appropriations Committee, and House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Sub-Committee. The letter asked for their “support to favorably resolve the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) arbitrary and abrupt change in its Process Safety Management (PSM) ‘retail facility’ interpretation.”
The letter states “The new PSM requirements will place significant time and cost burdens on agricultural retailers. OSHA estimated the cost of compliance at $2,100 per facility. However, the industry cost estimates per facility are approximately $30,000 for initial compliance, $12,000 for annual compliance, and $18,000 for a three year audit. In the aggregate, it would cost the industry well over $100 million to come into compliance.” “It is important and necessary for agricultural businesses, and other affected stakeholders, to have an opportunity for public input when agencies make major policy changes to regulations that cause significant, and unexpected burdens,” also stated in the letter.
The Agribusiness Association of Iowa (AAI) supports our national association counterparts in opposing this retail facility interpretation. The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) are moving forward with the PSM litigation. It is currently being argued that OSHA’s memo does, in fact, add new obligations to farm supply retailers. Because new obligations are added to agricultural retailers, OSHA’s memo is not an “interpretive rule.” AAI strongly feels that OSHA has overstepped its authority and has failed to go through proper channels of notice-and-comment rulemaking. The letter that AAI signed onto also asks for stronger statutory text in the FY 2017 Appropriations bill.
In January an ARA article entitled ARA, TFI Encourage Retailers to Prepare for PSM Compliance they state “…it appears OSHA does not intend to conduct formal rulemaking and is, in effect, taking the position that this Congressional directive need not be followed after the current fiscal year ends.”
ARA and TFI have declined mediation during litigation. “We also declined an offer of mediation. Our position is that either OSHA broke the law or they didn’t. That point can’t be mediated,” said Daren Coppock, ARA President and CEO.
With no solid resolution to this issue, OSHA intends to pursue enforcement of the PSM standard when the appropriations bill expires at the end of the 2016 fiscal year – September 30, 2016. The AAI Agronomy and Legislative grassroots committees are watching this issue very closely. AAI gives its full support to ARA and TFI during this process. AAI will continue to update our membership as information arises. Our members are welcome to contact us with any question regarding this issue.