Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, used his position as Chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee to successfully include provisions related to youth labor and regulatory relief that will help preserve the rural way of life and provide economic stability for the agriculture industry. The subcommittee's budget measure includes language that helps turn aside a push by the Obama Administration to over-regulate farm equipment and reduce the scope of farm youth labor.
"In the last few years, our rural way of life in farming communities have been under attack by the urban-centered Obama Administration and its allies in the Senate," said Rehberg, a 5th-generation Montana rancher. "I led the charge against several half-baked proposals by the Labor Department that would have hurt Montana's economy. And while we won most of those fights, my bill makes sure those bad ideas don't ever see the light of day. I'll keep working for smarter regulations and more jobs. It's time for the government to get off our backs and on our side."
Rehberg included language in the Labor Department's appropriations bill (Section 114) that will stop the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from enforcing certain grain bin sweep auger regulations that are unworkable for the industry, while allowing them to continue to ensure worker safety under existing regulations. The action follows attempts by Rehberg to work with OSHA to resolve his constituent concerns.
Rehberg's bill earned praise from the Montana Grain Elevator Association: "We appreciate Denny Rehberg standing with Montana's grain elevator operators against overbearing federal regulation," said Krista Lee Evans, Executive Director of the association. "Safety is always our industry's top priority, and no one knows how to best accomplish that safety better than the men and women who work around grain elevators every day. OSHA must come up with workable regulations that don't prevent us from doing our jobs. The provisions in Denny's bill will give us the flexibility we need to continue to create jobs and grow Montana's economy."
Rehberg also inserted language in the budget bill (Section 117) that would preserve a victory in a hard-fought battle against the Labor Department's attempts to undermine the ability of farmers and ranchers to hire young people, putting at risk their ability to pass on their experience to the next generation of ag producers. The DOL's proposals surfaced last year, with Rehberg taking numerous steps opposing the rules and rallying support against the onerous provisions.
Agriculture is Montana's leading industry, contributing $2.8 billion to the state's economy annually. Roughly 1 in 5 Montanans work in agriculture or an ag-related field.