Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson cosponsored H.R. 4157, the Preserving America's Family Farms Act. This legislation addresses the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) proposed regulations for labor practices for youth working in agricultural operations. The proposed rule would limit the ability of farmers and ranchers to hire youth to work in agriculture.
"I grew up moving pipe and breaking ground for new crops," said Simpson. "It is a time in my life that I consider very significant, and working on farms taught me the value of hard work and the importance of success and determination. I want to make sure today's youth have the same opportunities that I had growing up, part of which is being able to work, save money, and go to college. Jobs in agriculture provide these opportunities and need to be preserved."
The proposed rule would ban hiring youth younger than sixteen to do certain types of farm work and ban so-called "hazardous" work, including operating tractors or working with livestock. Furthermore, the "parental exemption" portion of the rule would prohibit youth from doing various farm activities on farms not solely owned by their parents--including farms owned by extended family or other farms on which the youth do not reside. With this rule, DOL has attempted to narrow the definition of the family farm so that chores could be considered illegal unless the farm on which the youth works is wholly owned by his or her parents.
"This proposal is a misguided idea that threatens the ability of America's youth to contribute to work on their family's farm and other agricultural operations," said Simpson. "This proposed rule would also restrict families in their efforts to pass on the generational knowledge and the hands-on learning that is so critical to the survival of the agricultural industry."
The Preserving America's Family Farms Act would prohibit the DOL from finalizing the proposed regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act that relate to on-farm youth labor. H.R. 4157 is currently in the House Agriculture Committee.