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Preserving America's Family Farms Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I'm pleased to stand today in support of H.R. 4157, Preserving America's Family Farm Act. This is a very bipartisan bill that I think really gets to what we're concerned about in agriculture today. Anymore these days, it seems like armies of Federal bureaucrats are drawing up new regulations, often with little or no consideration or understanding of the very industries that they're trying to regulate.

While some regulations do serve a legitimate purpose, others do little more than create uncertainty and additional costs for hardworking taxpayers, farmers, and small business owners. I believe if we want to put America back in business, back to work, one of the first things we must do is crack down on overregulation.

I've introduced a proposal called the Regulatory Accountability and Economic Freedom Act that would take a number of steps to reverse our government's direction and overregulation. Unfortunately, we're standing here today to fight one of those misguided regulation attempts. Last September, the Department of Labor proposed rules that would have dramatically limited the ability of America's youth to contribute to work on their family's farm or agricultural operations, and it would have restricted, if not completely eliminated, educational training opportunities for youth in rural America. As a result, I introduced H.R. 4157 as the solution to block the DOL's overly burdensome regulations.

We can't allow Federal bureaucrats, many of whom have never set foot on a farm, to tell Iowa farm families how they can run their operations. As a person who grew up on a family farm and later became a farmer myself, I can attest to the valuable skills that are developed through days of bailing hay and detassling cornfields and showing cattle at the county fair. I, like so many thousands of youth across this country today, utilized my own farm experience to learn the often difficult lessons of hard work, character development, problem solving skills, and leadership.

Life on the farm is never easy, but the valuable lessons learned while producing America's food, feed, and fiber make for a rewarding way of life. I think it goes without saying that the safety and well-being of all farmworkers, especially our youth, is of the utmost importance to our Nation's farmers and ranchers. However, the regulations proposed by the DOL went beyond all common sense and would have destroyed opportunities for youth across the agricultural economy. This bill will ensure the Department cannot reissue a proposed rule substantial in nature to its version released last year.

Our youth deserve an opportunity to learn and grow through on-farm experience, and my bill ensures that that opportunity will remain available. And I urge support for Preserving America's Family Farms Act.

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Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Michigan for yielding once again. I will be submitting a letter here from 16 national farm groups in support of this legislation. I would also like to respond--the gentlewoman talked about farm families, that parents can still let their children be involved in the farming operation. That statement to me just shows a total misunderstanding and miscomprehension of what agriculture is today. Yes, you have family, Mom and Dad, but the highest percentage of all farms today are in partnership with their brothers, with their sisters. If their grandparents are still involved, if their parents are involved in that farming operation, this rule would have prohibited any child from working on the farm and being part of a family operation. Or, if you're a subchapter S corporation, any of the things that are so common today--partnerships, small business corporations--that these family farm operations are, it would have totally prohibited our youth from getting the kind of education, getting the knowledge, getting the experience that they can derive working with their parents on a family farm operation.

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday I had the opportunity to travel to three county fairs, one in Bedford, one in Red Oak, and one in Avoca, Iowa. It brought back so many memories from my own youth to go to those fairs and see young people showing livestock, either 4-H or FFA, and to see the experience, the love they have for those animals, the love of the farm and agriculture that they are developing in their youth. This is extraordinarily important.

While some people may dismiss the importance of this bill, it will prohibit, even in the proposal that was made, but also anything like it from happening.

That's what's very, very important, to give those families out there the certainty, to give the 4-H and the FFA, the educational programs in agriculture today, a chance to continue this great legacy of agriculture and of family farm operations. That's really what this is all about.

Mr. Speaker, I, again, ask for support of all the Members for this bill. It is extremely important for family farms.

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