OSHA vaccine order has some agribusinesses concerned


OSHA vaccine order has some agribusinesses concerned

The Biden administration’s mandatory COVID vaccination order for all companies with more than 100 employees is getting both acceptance and pushback in the agriculture sector.

John Umhoefer with the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association tells Brownfield he expects few if any problems within his membership. He says, “Right now, I’m sure our members are looking at the plans they’re seeing from OSHA. They will prepare to take the steps that are necessary, and we’re just going to focus on worker safety until this pandemic is in the rearview mirror.”

Tom Bresner with the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association says he’s heard from some of his members who are worried about losing key employees like agronomists. “We have already heard some say if you enforce this, there is such a labor shortage out there that I’ll just simply walk down the road and go to work for a company that has less than 100 employees, and they’ll hire me without batting an eye. There’s where the concerns are coming in.” Bresner tells Brownfield the real issue with the vaccine mandate is it makes an unlevel playing field between large companies and small companies because workers who don’t want to get vaccinated will leave and work for a smaller company.

Umhoefer tells Brownfield he’s not worried about cheese processors losing staff and cutting production, so farmers should not worry about having a place to send their milk. “I think dairy has done a great job throughout the pandemic in keeping the doors open and milk being processed, all at the same time taking care of our workforce.”

OSHA issued the Emergency Temporary Standard rule on November 4th.  The Biden Administration’s mandate was stopped at least temporarily Friday in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals where Texas and Mississippi joined several businesses to challenge the mandate.  That court issued a stay preventing the mandate from taking effect.

The rule was also challenged by attorneys general in 27 other states. Kentucky, Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia filed suit in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has filed a similar suit in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Darien, Wisconsin-based Tankcraft Corporation and Plasticraft Corporation.  WILL President Rick Esenberg says, “This new rule is illegal and unconstitutional. It circumvents the normal legal process, along with Congress, to claim emergency powers to impose a mandate on American business. However you feel about the COVID vaccine or even the very different question of a vaccine mandate, the Biden administration is claiming an extraordinary power to rule by decree that could be used in the future in almost unlimited and unforeseeable ways.”