The Department of Labor has issued a proposed rule that would prohibit people under the age of 16 from working on a farm or ranch. The deadline to make comments on the rule is next Wednesday, Dec. 1. The proposed regulations have taken a lot of criticism from both farm groups and lawmakers. Under the rules young people would basically be unable to work with livestock at all and would have to pass a safety course in order to work in cultivation. Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kan., is very concerned about the propose rule.
"This is a way of life, we want to make certain the Department of Labor understand how valuable the relationship is between one generation of farmers and the next," Moran said. "There is a real concern about how the Department of Labor, who has no offices in counties across our country, would be administrating a program for safety. It would exclude Extension, 4-H, FFA; programs that have worked so well in rural America."
National Cattlemen's Beef Association Vice President of Governmental Affairs Colin Woodall says this rule basically changes what has been a farm practice for generations.
"That is kids working on the farm and ranch, working at the local feed store, the sale barn, for their neighbors, their grandparents; yet under this rule it would eliminate all those opportunities unless you are working directly for your parents," Woodall said. "It is going to be a huge impact for one on the labor force and also we've got to make sure we're always preparing this next generation of farmers and ranchers and what better way to do it than to have that hands on experience growing up."
A large coalition of ag groups is gathering support to push back against these proposed rules from the Department of Labor and Woodall says that there is a good chance of being successful.
To hear further comments from Senator Moran on this issue use the audio player on this page.