Sixteen ag interest groups today urged the House to vote yes for farm kids and farm families across America by supporting H.R. 4157, the Preserving America's Family Farms Act. The House will debate and vote on the legislation later today.
The act, if approved, will prevent the Department of Labor from prohibiting youth under 18 from handling livestock or operating farm machinery. The act was introduced in response to overwhelming reaction from farm and ag interests following the DOL's proposed rule to limit farm workers under 16 from participating in certain activities last September.
In a letter to House members, the organizations said that while the safety of all workers remains their number one priority, regulations introduced last year by the Labor Department "took caution beyond recognition."
According to the letter, "The proposed regulations were overly burdensome to agriculture producers and would have limited, if not eliminated, training opportunities for youth in rural America. Fortunately, the administration listened to the concerns of farmers and ranchers by withdrawing the regulation in April. However, the threat to family farms still exists.
"While we all respect the obligations and responsibilities of DOL to ensure the safety of youth working on farms, we believe that the approaches taken need to be well reasoned and not detrimental to the family farm or the youth participating in farm work," continued the letter.
The letter says H.R. 4157 would protect against these threats by preserving the ability of youth to gain training and education by working on the farm. It also protects an agricultural way of life from future child labor regulations that could limit the ability of youth to learn valuable skills by working on the farm.
Those submitting the letter were: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Association; the American Horse Council; the American Seed Trade Association; the American Soybean Association; the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association; the International Association of Fairs and Expositions; the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture; the National Cattlemen's Beef Association; the National Council of Agricultural Employers; the National Cotton Council; the National FFA Organization; the National Milk Producers Federation; the National Pork Producers Council; the United Fresh Produce Association; and the U.S. Apple Association.