Washington, D.C.—Craig Martins, Operations Manager for Three Rivers FS in Dyersville, IA, today testified on behalf of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and GROWMARK, Inc., at a hearing held by the House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade. The hearing examined how federal regulations were impacting America’s small farmers and agricultural cooperatives.
Three Rivers FS is a locally owned agricultural cooperative serving producers in Northeast Iowa that is affiliated with GROWMARK, a regional co-op based in Bloomington, Ill., and a member of NCFC. As operations manager, Martins’ responsibilities include developing and leading the sales, operations and service teams within Three Rivers FS.
“I applaud this Subcommittee for taking a closer look at how federal regulations affect small businesses,” Martins testified. “Expensive and confusing regulations are detrimental to all small businesses, including farmers and their co-ops.”
Martins highlighted two issues in particular that were impacting the business operations of Three Rivers: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Crane and Derricks in Construction Rule as it applies to propane suppliers and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Rule for storage of anhydrous ammonia.
OSHA’s Crane Rule would require propane technicians to undergo certification if they use a knuckle-boom or telescoping crane truck to deliver propane tanks to what OSHA considers “constructions sites” or if the technician conducts what are deemed construction activities.
“According to OSHA, a construction site is considered any property where construction activity is taking place whether or not it is associated with or even located near the delivery location,” Martins emphasized. “For example, a technician might need to be certified if he were dropping off a tank on the ground at a house where a second floor bathroom was being remodeled or at a farm where the barn was being painted.”
“Even more problematic is how OSHA defines a construction activity,” he continued. “A technician would not need certification if the tank is simply left on the ground without connecting it to piping. However, if the propane tank is placed on the ground, the boom put away and the technician then connects it, that would be considered a construction activity.”
Martins urged House members to co-sponsor H.R. 5988, the Common Sense Certification Reform Act, which provides regulatory relief for propane field technicians from certification when appropriate.
He also testified about DHS’s regulation of facilities storing and selling anhydrous ammonia to farmers for use as fertilizer. Martins noted that DHS’s guidance was often ambiguous and without explanation, in contravention to DHS’s own rules outlining the Department’s responsibilities in the process. He urged DHS to provide clarity and to provide better tools and resources to help small businesses comply.
Martins’ full testimony can be found on the committee web site at: https://smallbusiness.house.gov/uploadedfiles/6-21-18_martins_testimony.pdf.
Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn composed of nearly 3,000 local farmer cooperatives across the country. NCFC members also include 26 state and regional councils of cooperatives. Farmer cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets.
America’s farmer-owned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members. These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity. They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs. Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.