Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) responded to a December 16 letter requesting they reevaluate a proposed rule which would restrict youth involvement in agriculture:
"While I am pleased the Department of Labor is revisiting the parental exemption, the entire rule needs to be reconsidered," said Smith. "This rule could not only prevent youth from working on a family farm, but also stop young people from participating in educational programs like 4-H and FFA, or even make it illegal for farm kids to help a neighbor in need. These consequences create uncertainty for our farmers and ranchers, and simply do not square with Nebraska values. By limiting the potential of the next generation of producers, this rule could have harmful implications for the long-term outlook of agriculture, and in turn, the security of our nation's food supply."
On September 2, 2011, the Department of Labor published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which would place burdensome restrictions on youth participation in agriculture. On December 20, 2011, Smith signed a bipartisan letter along with 152 bipartisan Members of Congress urging Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to reevaluate the proposed rule. In October, Smith signed a bipartisan letter with 77 other House Members which secured an extension of the public comment period on the rule.
Smith serves as chairman of the Congressional Rural Caucus. Click here to view Smith's December 16 letter. Click here to view DOL's response.