Under pressure from farm-state congressmen, the Department of Labor (DOL) has withdrawn a memorandum that enabled the agency to inspect, regulate and fine farms with fewer than 10 workers, something which has been banned by law since 1976.

Brian V. Kennedy, assistant DOL secretary, responded to three letters from congressmen with a written reply on Feb. 10, indicating that it was never the intent of the memorandum or of the DOL to circumvent the 1976 law that excludes small farms from DOL regulatory activities.

"The June 28, 2011 memorandum was intended to provide clarification and not to change OSHA's longstanding policies and proper authority," wrote Kennedy, adding that the memorandum had been officially withdrawn.

Responded North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer: "The removal of the misguided memo is a good step, but farmers need reassurance they will not be targeted by more rogue regulation attempts in the future."