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La. Farm Bureau/Radio Network‏

February 19, 2014

Mid South Agricultural Labor Seminar Set for Thursday, March 6th in Port Allen

The Mid South Agricultural Labor Seminar will be held on Thursday, March 6, 2014 at the West Baton Rouge Conference Center and Tourist Bureau in Port Allen, LA, located adjacent to I-10 on the north service road at the Hwy 415 Lobdell Exit.

Registration on March 6th will begin at 7 am and the Seminar program will begin at 8 am.

Registration costs to attend the Seminar is $45 per person which includes lunch.

The program covers issues affecting both agricultural processors and farmers such as H-2B program changes, The Affordable Care Act, Immigration reform in Congress, H-2A compliance issues, violations and audits, new proposed OSHA injury reporting to a public database, Port of Baton Rouge entry changes, and IRS Tax filing counsel.

For more information, or to register for the seminar, go to and click on the commodity section.

Good News For Small Farmers

It's official. Farms employing 10 or fewer workers remain exempt from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) grain bin safety inspections. U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) officials last week withdrew a 2011 OSHA memo that caused confusion regarding the exemption. The memo essentially asserted that a family farm with on-farm grain storage and handling was not part of farm operations, but rather a wholesale grain operation therefore subject to regulation.

Brian Kennedy, DOL assistant secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, noted farming operations with 10 or fewer employees were exempted from OSHA grain bin inspections under a 1976 law.

However, OSHA officials saw a dramatic increase in grain bin entrapments and deaths in 2010. So, OSHA officials sent letters to nearly 13,000 grain facilities describing safety measures and ways to comply with OSHA standards.

The 2011 memo, Kennedy said, aimed to "provide clarification" to OSHA inspectors about their limitations concerning enforcement activities at small farming operations during OSHA's safety campaign. The memo was not intended to "change longstanding OSHA policy," Kennedy noted.

"We not only appreciate OSHA's concern with grain bin safety - we are committed to grain bin and farm safety. But we also believe the key to improving farm safety is a collaborative, cooperative process that was not helped by OSHA's enforcement under the just-rescinded 2011 guidance document that was not consistent with the law," said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.

Farm Bureau members testified earlier this month during a Congressional hearing on the issue. They urged withdrawal of the 2011 memo to end enforcement confusion created by its issuance.

National FFA Week

More than a half-million students in all 50 U.S. states this week will share the importance of agriculture in our daily lives, spread their passion for agriculture and host communitywide events to help others in need.

It's National FFA Week and a host of activities are planned to raise awareness about the role the National FFA Organization plays in the development of the agriculture industry's future leaders and the importance of agricultural education.

The week-long tradition started in 1948. Each year, National FFA Week runs Saturday to Saturday, encompassing President George Washington's Feb. 22 birthday in recognition of Washington's legacy as an agriculturist and farmer.

FFA was founded by a group of young farmers back in 1928. Its mission is to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population. Founding members of the organization taught generations that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting - it involves science, business and much more.

Today, FFA continues to help the next generation rise up to meet new agricultural challenges by helping members develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of career pathways. Members progress to enjoy careers as biologists, chemists, veterinarians, engineers and entrepreneurs.

According to responses on Facebook and Twitter, local FFA chapters plan to host parties in appreciation of their agriculture teachers and FFA advisors. Members will host local farmers' markets, visit elementary and middle schools to talk about FFA and agricultural education, complete community-service projects, participate in spirit days at their schools to promote agricultural education and much more.

* Through Sunday, participating Tractor Supply Co. stores encourage customers to donate $1 at checkout to support FFA. Donations will fund $1,000 scholarships for FFA members while 10 percent will support state FFA association programs. Last year, Tractor Supply raised more than $362,000 in 45 states to provide 284 scholarships for FFA members to use for college.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 579,678 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,570 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

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