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Missouri Farm Bureau, MFA Oil, MFA Incorporated file suit against private employer vaccine mandate

The Missouri Farm Bureau, MFA Oil and MFA Incorporated, along with Doyle Manufacturing Company, have filed a lawsuit challenging the vaccine mandate for private employers.

The lawsuit challenges the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) emergency temporary standard (ETS), which mandates those employed at companies with 100 or more employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The mandate could affect more than 84 million employees across the states.

“The health and safety of our employees and members is of utmost importance as we lead out of the pandemic,” Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins said in a news release.

In an interview with KOMU 8, Hawkins spoke more to the individual rights that are violated with this mandate for his employees.

"We believe that acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine should be the choice of our employees," Hawkins said. "That's exactly what this petition is about. It's about respecting the rights of our individual employees to to make an informed decision to continue to have those conversations with their physician and do what they feel is in their best interest."

The companies jointly filed a petition on Friday with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming OSHA has "exceeded its statutory authority in implementing the ETS and violated the U.S. Constitution and other laws."

“We have always followed OSHA guidelines, but we are concerned that the vaccine mandate will impose burdensome new requirements on our business," Jon Ihler, MFA Oil president and CEO, said in a news release. "We support vaccination, but we also oppose any rule that restricts the freedom of our employees to make their own personal health decisions."

The lawsuit follows Attorney General Eric Schmitt's lawsuit, which was filed at the beginning of November and also challenges the private employer vaccine mandate. Holts Summit's Doolittle Trailer Manufacturing also signed on to Schmitt's lawsuit.

The Missouri Farm Bureau is the state's largest farm organization, and its home office is located in Jefferson City. MFA Oil is headquartered in Columbia. Its subsidiary operates Break Time convenience stores and Big O Tires franchises across Missouri and Arkansas.

MFA Incorporated is a regional supply and marketing cooperative, also based in Columbia. Doyle Equipment Manufacturing is based in Palmyra, Missouri and manufactures dry fertilizer equipment.

"Simply put, it's unconstitutional," Hawkins told KOMU 8 on Tuesday. "Ultimately employee safety is a paramount concern, but we have to push back against egregious government overreach in which this is a prime example."

KOMU 8 is a full-powered NBC affiliate operating as an independent commercial property. As such, KOMU 8 is the only major network affiliate in the United States that acts as a university-owned commercial television station utilizing its newsroom as a working lab for students.