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La. Farm Bureau/Radio Network‏

February 20, 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 lfbf.org 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.


Farm Bill Hearings

The USA Rice Federation will continue its series of education briefings for producers, landowners, lenders, and other industry members on the 2014 Farm Bill in Louisiana next month. The first session will take place on Tuesday, March 11 at the Acadia Parish Extension Office in Crowley from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. There will be two briefings on Wednesday, March 12; the first, at the Dean Lee Experiment Station in Alexandria from noon until 2:00 p.m. and the second, at the Rayville, LA Community Center from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs Reece Langley and Dr. Mike Salassi of the LSU AgCenter will explain key provisions of the new Farm Bill along with their specific implications for the U.S. rice industry in an effort to help growers make important decisions for 2014 and beyond.

USA Rice President and CEO Betsy Ward will provide a report on USA Rice program area activities.

"USA Rice spent the last four years working with allies in Congress to ensure the interests of rice farmers were represented in the Farm Bill," said Langley. "Now we want to provide a comprehensive explanation of the bill and the decision aid tools that will assist in enrollment decisions that will carry through for five years under the new bill."

"I strongly encourage attendance at one of the USA Rice Farm Bill briefings in your state. And if you can't attend in person, our presentation will be available on our website soon," said Ward.

The 2014 Farm Bill was signed by President Obama on February 7, and reauthorizes commodity, conservation, crop insurance, trade, nutrition and other important policies through 2018.

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