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Preserving America's Family Farms Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BOSWELL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me time. I appreciate this opportunity.

I rise in support of H.R. 4157, Preserving America's Family Farms, or I should say farm family traditions. Passing this legislation today will codify our successful effort to prevent the Department of Labor from undercutting the structure of our Nation's family farms.

For generations, the contributions of young people have led to family success and bright futures on household farms. However, late last year, our family farmers faced a sweeping regulation that would have prevented children and grandchildren from participating in the very important lessons and traditions that have stabilized not only our families but also our economy.

The short-sighted ruling proposed by the Department of Labor would have affected a wide variety of subsectors within agriculture, work with livestock and grain production, commodity transportation, youth agriculture education, and a number of other sectors that train and educate our youth in family-farm settings with hands-on experience.

Not only did this ruling admit in its own text that there was little or no data available to back the proposal being made, it would, as stated by Future Farmers of America--our youth--limit, if not eliminate, opportunities to effectively teach students to be safe when working in agriculture.

I'm proud that many of us join in a bipartisan effort to tell the Secretary of Labor through multiple letters that this ruling is wrong. Fortunately, the Department did rescind this ruling, as it was stated a little while ago, so that the youth in our districts could continue to learn important lessons taking place in the most successful sector of our economy.

I support H.R. 4157 because it will codify this effort. This bill will clarify the intention of Congress with respect to youth education on farms, and it will prevent the Department of Labor from implementing or enforcing this very specific proposal. In codifying our intention and passing this bill, we ensure that all farmers have access to education and retain their family's traditions, two things that are critical in our changing society.

I often think back when I returned home from the Army to the farm and realized the changes that had taken place in farm technology while I was away. The farmers we are nurturing now will acquire even more skills and adjust to faster changes than ever before. Young people today, and even some of us who aren't too young, are maintaining high-tech GPS programs, aerial mapping, and biotechnology that create greater efficiencies in farming, increase output, and reduce the cost of food at our local grocery store. These young farmers are taking their experience on the farm to study and create the software that improves farming and acquire the financial skills it takes to run a farm, and they are gaining the entrepreneurial spirit that is needed to be part of one of America's greatest economic sectors. These youth, backed by their experience on the farm, are not just farmers. They're agronomists, engineers, economists, and international liaisons.

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Mr. BOSWELL. We must ensure these young farmers have access to the education they deserve, to the traditions and lessons that so many of us hold dear and have treasured our entire lives.

However, I not only call on my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation today, to ensure our young farmers have access to the education they need, but I also call on us to demand that the farm bill, passed with 35 ayes out of the House Agriculture Committee, be brought to the House floor for debate.

Farming in America requires a great deal of capital for major investments, access to land and credit, the ability to hire and purchase. American farmers create jobs and make investments in communities that keep jobs. The primary and perhaps only difference between a farmer and a businessman is that the farmer's revenue and profits are more subject to the whims of the climate, such as the drought that is devastating our Nation this summer.

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