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Expect no farm safety legislation this year

Author: Kristy

Agriculture Iowa’s deadliest occupation, no push for remedies

Christian Fox (center) talks to students about combine safety during the 2013 Fall Farm Safety Day Camp in September at the farm of Ken and Linda Kroneman near Osage. (Jeff Heinz)

By SARAH HADLEY IowaWatch.org

DES MOINES | Support from Iowa lawmakers for stricter farm safety regulation does not exist in the new legislative session. This is despite agriculture being Iowa’s deadliest occupation and limited Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforcement and coverage.

No one is pushing for state remedies, or calling for a federal government they distrust to improve farm safety to step in. Moreover, Gov. Terry Branstad says he would not support a new or more aggressive program for agricultural safety.

“I think that would be a detriment to agriculture,” Branstad told IowaWatch in an interview at the opening of the session. “We have to be careful about making it too difficult for farmers to be able to perform their duties.”

Farm safety measures such as tractor rollover protection and grain bin harnessing are required under Iowa OSHA law.

But as a previous IowaWatch investigation revealed, coverage under in this law favors large farms and leaves smaller farms on their own to practice safe farming.

“OSHA has not come forward as a champion of ag safety,” Sen. Joe Seng, D-Davenport, and chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said.

Yet, Seng reports that it has been quiet in general as far as other lawmakers or farm safety specialists coming forward to voice complaint about the current level of regulation on farms.

“If nobody is insisting on this, we let the sleeping dogs lie,” he said.

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