The debate on whether Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will apply the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM) regulations to products such as anhydrous ammonia continues to be a threat to our livelihood and the agricultural industry.
In an effort to express how costly these changes would be to both fertilizer retailers and farmers, a group of cooperative managers and producers recently visited Washington, D.C. to meet with our Congressional Delegation. Central Valley Ag’s Board Chairman, Dave Beckman had this to say about the visit to Washington; “It will be logistically impossible for the industry to meet OSHA’s compliance deadline of September 30, 2016, with the large number of storage tanks that would have to be replaced. OSHA has grossly underestimated the cost of compliance at $2,100 per retail facility when in fact Agricultural retailers have estimated costs to range from $20,000 to $77,000 per facility. When costs to an industry exceed $100 million, OSHA is required to adhere to notice, comment and publication procedures under the Administrative Procedures Act which they have bypassed with their low compliance estimate.”
The PSM was written with large-scale anhydrous manufacturing and distribution facilities in mind, and historically agriculture retailers been exempt from these regulations. If the PSM rules are enforced, the industry estimates that the per acre costs for farmers to convert to dry or liquid fertilizer could increase input costs $18 to $30 per acre.
“The enforcement of PSM regulations on agricultural retail facilities will drive up costs to producers on all sources of commercial nitrogen fertilizer, not just anhydrous ammonia,” said Beckman.
The attached documents further explain how OSHA’s PSM standards would affect both your operation and our cooperative. If the PSM rules are enforced, many anhydrous ammonia retailers, including Central Valley Ag, are faced with the prospect of having to substantially consolidate anhydrous facilities which will create transportation delays and inefficiencies and reduce our overall inventory. Many companies are deciding to exit the anhydrous ammonia business because they refuse to pay or cannot afford the compliance costs. Many Nebraska cooperatives have estimated the total cost of compliance to be as high as $10 million for each company.
This issue effects our entire industry, and more work needs to be done. To fully appreciate the consequences of OSHA’s actions, Congress will need to hear from those most affected, you, our agricultural producers. We highly encourage you to review the information below and contact your representative about this issue.
For additional information on this please visit the Nebraska Cooperative Council at http://www.nebr.coop/