Nov 09, 2011  |  Today's News

Another day, another dollar … and another step by the federal government to make a farmer’s job more difficult because of senseless regulations.

Now, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has decided that it is no longer safe for farmers or grain elevator employees to be inside a bin when a sweep auger is operating. 

(For those of you unaware, a sweep auger is used to clean out the bottom of the grain bin, when only a few inches of grain remain.  Typically a farmer or employee uses a broom to sweep the remaining grain to the auger so that every kernel can be removed.)

Illinois Corn isn’t necessarily arguing that sweep augers are safe.  They certainly come with their own precautions and farmers are well-versed in how to safely operate one before they jump into the bin with a sweep auger running.  What we do have a problem with is another government regulation that is going to have major affects on the agricultural industry without some other option to do business in a way that would be in compliance.

Several members of Congress agree.  They have written a letter to OSHA asking for more information about the proposed sweep auger regulation.  They want to know first, what OSHA defines as an unguarded sweep auger (an auger that is fully guarded can’t actually move grain) and second, how grain bins are to be emptied without a farmer or employee inside the bin with the auger. 

Could it be that a government agency issued a regulation without fully understanding the practice, the reason for the practice, or even the complexities of the industry?

Based on past experience, yes.

In case you’ve lost count, we’ve dealt with proposed dust regulations minus a suggestion of how to farm without dust, NPDES permit regulations minus a means to actually obtain a permit or acknowledgement of overlapping regulations, proposed trucking regulations that were never meant to apply to farmers, and more.

When will the government be held accountable?  When do the senseless regulations and lack of options to remain in compliance stop? 

Thanks to Illinois Congressmen Tim Johnson and Aaron Schock for signing the letter questioning OSHA’s rule.  Illinois corn farmers appreciate the effort to hold our governmental agencies to a more realistic standard.