This letter to the editor appeared in the Utica Observer-Dispatch:
I commend Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, for not only looking out for the state’s more than 5,000 dairy farmers, but for the more than 28,000 employees who work on them as well.
He has led a bipartisan congressional delegation that is asking OSHA for more time before surprise farm inspections begin. Not only would this allow dairy farmers to become more educated about what is expected, but it would allow farms to come up with finances required to make safety improvements.
This is new for farmers who learned just last year that OSHA is expanding its dairy inspection process into New York. Farms are already inspected, and are in compliance with a number of state and federal agencies, but they have not typically been under OSHA jurisdiction. Much of it is a response attributed to the expected growth in milk production from the yogurt boom.
Dairy farms throughout New York have actively engaged with OSHA and are participating in an educational effort established by New York Farm Bureau and our agricultural partners. We have held more than 30 training sessions with more scheduled. The goal isn’t only to prepare for the inspections, but to make farms safer for employees and families. With Hanna’s help, we can help ensure a viable and safe dairy sector in the state.
Norton is president of New York Farm Bureau