IT'S not enough for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to exceed its legal authority in trying to over regulate small chicken farmers in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle or squeezing coal and utility companies in Appalachia, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration is now working to smother family farms in the Midwest.
The Wall Street Journal reports that OSHA's enforcement chief distributed a memo in 2011 instructing employees on how to re-categorize small farms — which federal law prohibits OSHA from bothering — as commercial grain handlers.
Farming operations with 10 or fewer employees are specifically exempted from OSHA jurisdiction, but grain handlers are not, even if the grain handler is a small farmer who produces and stores grain.
In Nebraska, according to the Journal, OSHA inspectors levied a $130,000 fine, citing the small family operation for not having a written plan to control fugitive grain dust.
An Ohio family farm with one full-time employee was the subject of similar harassment by OSHA until the Wall Street Journal called to inquire about their misdeed — after which the agency withdrew all citations against the farm.
"Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency," wrote Jonathan Turley, professor of public interest law at George Washington University.
"In fact, the vast majority of 'laws' governing the United States are not passed by Congress, but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats," Turley said.
In 2007, he said, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.
The federal government has grown out of control, yet the Obama administration wants to expand by governing everyone's medical care.
Growth in government is the last thing the country needs. Citizens must demand accountability and transparency and not idly sit by as the behemoth that is our government grows further, consuming more of our tax dollars and stifling our freedom and creativity.