Senators Introduce Preserving America's Family Farm Act

Bill would prevent restrictions on youth agricultural labor and unnecessary government intervention.

Published on: Mar 26, 2012

Senator John Thune, R-S.D., has introduced a bill seeking to prevent the U.S. Labor Department from imposing rules that would limit the jobs children can do on farms. The bill is called the Preserving America's Family Farm Act, which Thune says is legislation aimed at preventing the Department of Labor from moving forward and implementing their very controversial and unsolicited 85-page proposed regulations that would severely restrict young people working on family farms.

Thune says the Department of Labor's proposed rule would prohibit those younger than 18 from handling livestock in some circumstances or operating some farm machinery.

Legislation will prevent unnecessaru regulation of youth working in agriculure.
Legislation will prevent unnecessaru regulation of youth working in agriculure.

"Participating in practices such as vaccination and branding, working with animals older than six months, working with certain fairly basic forms of farm equipment like lawnmowers and tillers," Thune said. "Just incredibly restrictive regulations that strike at the at the very heart and core of our family farm and ranching culture."

Thune says the proposed rules would restrict the participation of young people in agricultural activities.

"The lessons and the work ethics that young people learn on family farms and 4-H and FFA about agriculture and about caring for livestock prepares them for futures in agriculture," Thune said. "Whether that be on the family farm or other agriculture-related fields."

The rules would exempt children working on their families' farms from some of the restrictions, but Thune says they are still too restrictive and that it is clear these regulations were written by people in Washington who have not spent time on a farm.

"Young people on farms are taught safety lessons by the people who care most for them," Thune said. "They don't need Washington bureaucrats in 85 pages of regulations how to best keep their children safe. This is yet another case of government overreach and my legislation would prevent these unnecessary regulations and this unnecessary government intervention from going into effect."

Thune and Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kan., introduced the bill, and 36 other senators have signed on as co-sponsors. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., one of those co-sponsors, says he is proud to support this bipartisan bill.

"Having grown up working on farms, I am extremely opposed to the Obama Administration’s ridiculous government overreach," Blunt said. "Not only would this rule prevent the next generation of farmers and ranchers from learning how to safely work in this industry, but it would harm programs like 4-H and FFA that help foster and develop critical skills for future leaders in agriculture. Farmers and ranchers care deeply about the safety of their workers, but these unreasonable regulations would hurt job creators who rely on young people to assist with their day-to-day operations."

Story Tags: livestock, FFA, 4-H, farm machinery

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  5. Anonymous says:

    THANK YOU SENATOR THUNE and all other senators supporting this bill.It is nice to know some government officials are smart enough to know where their food comes from and cares about the future of agriculture. Thank you again, Cecil Swepston Oklahoma

  6. Anonymous says:

    I actually read the DOL provisions and this is a misrepresentation. The provisions apply to "hired" help, not the owners children. I've worked as the hired help and can say the farmers treat us worse than animals. This is big Ag trying to keep labor cheap regardless if children are injured or worse. If you want to prepare future farmers, give them a class on how to care for people along with animals. If you really want to prepare future farmers send them to college because farming is going high tech and in-doors. This will end the destruction of land, water supplies, and lead to sustainable farming. Look up the Vertical Farm and existing projects setup up in big cities, like Chicago.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I read through the department of labor recommendations for a college project. There are some good provisions, but also some very concerning ones. I would propose these compromise provisions: Exemptions to the The farm-product raw materials wholesale trade industry classification shall include the typical parental exemptions, vocational training and organization exemptions, and certification exemptions as under regulation existing as of 2011 regarding agricultural hazardous occupations but shall not apply to youth under the age of 16 unless closely supervised by the parent (in such cases of employment by a parent) or a responsible trained adult in other cases. In both such cases the age is reduced to 14. If any of the proposed regulations shall be enacted by the department of labor, the provision maintaining the agricultural hazardous occupation designation for establishments that are not yet to market/ “agricultural in nature--such as when the feed lot or the grain elevator is operated on a farm by a farmer and handles only livestock or grain produced by that farmer--the young employees of those establishments would generally be subject to the agricultural child labor provisions contained in FLSA sections 13(c)(1) and (2) and the agricultural hazardous occupations orders” shall be preserved. The communication device restrictions for youth shall only apply to interactive devices, used by youth under 18, at a commercial farm or establishment, or while being schooled (including by a parent for home school) or trained (but not including by a parent), while operating ridden machines or power saws or punchers. Exemptions for the following devices will be given at age 16: Ipods, attatched GPS devices, and walkie-talkies. -Lokrates (lock-ruh-teez)

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Family Farm needs the help of everyone in the family to succeed. Taking care of animals, doing barn chores and operating farm equipment at the appropriate age is quite FINE. Farm living develops CHARACTER and a good WORK ETHIC which is sadly MISSING from overpampered, self-centered city kids who never truly worked a day in their lives. Our Congressmen and President would be doing a better job of leading our country IF THEY HAD ONLY BEEN RAISED AND WORKED ON A FAMILY FARM. The farily that PR%AYS together and WORKS together STAYSD together. J.E.E.

  9. Anonymous says:

    "Having grown up working on farms, I am extremely opposed to the Obama Administration’s ridiculous government overreach," Blunt said." Obama has nothing to do with the proposed legislation, it is the Dept. of Labor on its own accord.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Of course Thune would do this After Labor and Ag have said there will be no new rules on "child labor". What a typical fraudster. He probably also has language in his bill allowing "internships" for young children in shoe factories, too.

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