Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Neyer: Protecting farmers from overreach should be bipartisan priority
RELEASE|February 5, 2024
Contact: Jerry Neyer

State Rep. Jerry Neyer is calling on the Michigan House and Democrat Speaker of the House Joe Tate to prioritize his legislation that protects family farmers from burdensome and unreasonable fines in times of tragedy.

Under current law, if a fatality happens on a family farm and the family does not report it to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) within eight hours, the family faces up to a $5,000 fine.

Neyer’s House Bill 4011 provides commonsense reforms that understand and respect the sensitive nature of these situations. The plan modifies most reporting requirements and dramatically reduces any potential fine on family farms. The current MIOSHA rule could see individuals fined even if a death occurs at a house located on a farm’s property, instead of on the farm or workplace itself.

“Families deserve respect and time to heal when a tragedy like this happens. They shouldn’t have to worry about being fined for not immediately filling out paperwork related to that tragedy,” said Neyer, who has expertise in the agricultural field and spent more than 20 years serving on the Isabella County Farm Bureau and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan Board prior to serving in the Legislature. “I talk with hardworking farmers across our state who are facing affordability concerns every day. Unnecessary red tape and the possibility of thousands of dollars in fines only further hurts this vital industry and encourages people to get out.”

Neyer said that with a 54-54 legislative split in the House currently, collaboration on legislation and addressing key issues across the state should be a priority. HB 4011 previously advanced to the House floor through the House Committee on Agriculture, which has a Democrat majority, in January 2023 as the legislative term was still in its infancy. But it has yet to receive a vote on the floor.

“In the previous legislative term, a bill addressing this issue gained support in both the House and Senate and made it to the governor’s desk. This particular bill solves discrepancies the governor originally had with the bill when she vetoed it,” Neyer said. “This is a very impactful measure for our vital agricultural sector, given the steep penalties and costs they could face just for taking time to cope with a tragedy. It was prioritized in the committee process. It’s a plan that’s been supported overwhelmingly in the past. Now we need to get it across the finish line.”

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