Congressman Rick Berg responded to the Obama Administration's Department of Labor (DOL) announcement that it will no longer pursue regulations that would place severe restrictions on the nation's agricultural community. The DOL had recently proposed that minors only be allowed to work on farms and ranches operated solely by their parent(s).
"The recent decision by the Obama Administration to back off on their proposed overregulation of family farms is a huge victory for thousands of families across North Dakota. I grew up hauling bales and working with cattle in Western North Dakota, and under the proposed Obama regulation, these odd jobs and farm chores would have been against the law. This regulation would be devastating for the 32,000 farms and ranches across our state," said Berg. "Here in North Dakota we certainly don't need bureaucrats in Washington telling us how to run our farms or raise our kids. Our rural way of life has been under constant assault by out of touch regulations coming from the Obama Administration, and while this reversal is a huge victory for North Dakota family farms, we must continue to remain vigilant."
When the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), was first enacted, it established two specific categories of child labor standards -- non-agriculture and agricultural -- recognizing the unique circumstances of farming and ranching. However, last September, the DOL made proposals to revise child labor regulations of the FLSA by equating the two categories. This was widely condemned by agriculture communities across the country.
Shortly after the proposal by the DOL, Berg joined with 153 of his colleagues to urge DOL Secretary Hilda Solis to abandon the proposed regulations. Seeing no change in course, Berg co-sponsored legislation last December to prohibit the DOL from finalizing or enforcing their proposed changes. Finally, early last evening, the Obama Administration announced that they were formally withdrawing their proposed change to the FLSA.
Berg praised the vocal opposition of agriculture community for the change of course by the Obama Administration, stating the change in policy was a direct result from the push-back from our agriculture community.
Rick Berg has a strong farming heritage. His grandfather immigrated to North Dakota from Norway when he was 14 years old and farmed the family homestead south of Maddock, North Dakota. Berg grew up in Hettinger, where his father was a large animal veterinarian. In high school, Berg was active in 4-H and FFA, and he later spent two summers with a custom harvesting crew to help finance his college education. Berg graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in Ag-Econ. Today, Berg and his wife, Tracy, own a cattle operation in western North Dakota.