Today, U.S. Congressman Dan Boren (D-OK) commended the Obama Administration's decision to reverse its proposed Department of Labor rule that would have limited the contributions of youth to family farming.
In December, the U.S. Department of labor proposed updated regulations on labor practices for minors in agricultural operations, including a rule that would prevent children under 16 from performing certain duties on farms. Historically, family farms have been exempted from such rules, but the new proposal could have been interpreted broadly to exclude operations that are partly owned by extended family members.
In response to this proposal, Congressman Boren introduced a bill with Congressman Tom Latham (R-IA) that would protect the family farm tradition by directing the Secretary of Labor to recognize the unique circumstances of family farm youth and multi-generational family partnerships in agricultural operations when drafting regulations.
Last week, the administration announced that, as a result of loud opposition, they would not move forward with the proposed rule.
"I am pleased to hear the Administration has decided to abandon this flawed rule and listen to thousands of voices among our rural communities," said Boren. "While the rule was being considered, I co-authored bipartisan legislation, the Preserving America's Family Farms Act, to block it from going forward. In the future, I strongly urge the Department of Labor to work collaboratively with rural stake holders, such as farmers and ranchers, on issues that affect their communities."
"America's family farms have won a great victory over misguided government regulation, but we must remain vigilant to make sure federal bureaucrats don't threaten the successful operation of family farms in the future," Congressman Latham said. "Even with this announcement, we have to continue our efforts so government officials understand the needs and realities of modern family farmers. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. This is about protecting one of the greatest traditions in American agriculture. That's why I've been so proud to work with Congressman Boren on this issue. "
Rather than change the regulations surrounding family farms, the Obama Administration will work with farming groups in an educational role to promote safety and prevent accidents.