Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) welcomed the announcement late last week that the Department of Labor was dropping its plans to impose new regulations that would have prevented children and young people from doing most activities on their family farms.
"As a farmer, I understand the regulatory burden placed on farmers and rural businesses by the Federal government," Lugar said. "We should not be increasing government regulations at the expense of farm families. Unfortunately, that is what the Obama Administration was proposing to do with its youth farm labor regulations."
Last year, the Department of Labor proposed rules that would have harmed family farm operations and agricultural education by prohibiting youth under the age of 18 from being near certain animals without adult supervision; from participating in common livestock practices, such as vaccinations and hoof trimming; from handling most animals more than six months old; from operating farm machinery over 20 PTO horsepower; from completing tasks at elevations over six feet high; and from working at stockyards and grain and feed facilities. These proposals would have had far-reaching implications and could have severely limited participation in 4-H and FFA activities, restricted youth farm safety classes, and negatively impacted rural lifestyle.
Instead, the Department of Labor announced that it will work with the Department of Agriculture and rural stakeholders -- such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H -- to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.
In March, Senator Lugar had joined 38 of his colleagues in introducing the Preserving America's Family Farm Act. This legislation would have blocked the Department of Labor's efforts to severely restrict young people from working on family farms. And, in December of last year, Senator Lugar and 28 of his Senate colleagues sent a letter to the Department of Labor outlining numerous concerns and requesting that the proposed rule be withdrawn.