Congressman Rick Berg today released the following statement regarding the passage of H.R. 4157, the Preserving America's Family Farms Act. The legislation prohibits the Department of Labor from enacting a ruling from last September that would place new restrictions on youth working in agriculture.
"I am proud to fight back against the overregulation by the Obama Administration that threatens North Dakota's rich farming heritage by prohibiting youth farming," stated Berg. "Here in North Dakota we don't need bureaucrats in Washington telling us how to run our farms or raise our kids. Our rural way of life has been under constant assault by out of touch regulations coming from the Obama Administration, and I will continue to remain vigilant to make sure that North Dakotans can continue making their living on the land."
Berg has been an outspoken advocate of North Dakota's agriculture industry. Just last week, he stood on the House floor on two different occasions to call on the House Leadership to bring the House Farm Bill, known formally as the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, to the floor for a vote.
Rick Berg has a strong farming heritage. His grandfather immigrated to North Dakota from Norway when he was 14 years old and farmed the family homestead south of Maddock, North Dakota. Berg grew up in Hettinger, where his father was a large animal veterinarian. In high school, Berg was active in 4-H and FFA, and he later spent two summers with a custom harvesting crew to help finance his college education. Berg graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in Ag-Econ. Today, Berg and his wife, Tracy, own a cattle operation in western North Dakota.
The Preserving Family Farms Act unanimously passed the House earlier this afternoon. It will now be sent to the Senate for consideration. H.R. 4157 will prohibit the Secretary of Labor from finalizing or enforcing the proposed rules and finds that:
Family farms often depend on the contributions of youth for their successful operation;
Regulations proposed to be adopted by the Department of Labor will adversely impact the longstanding tradition of youth working on farms to gain valuable skills and lessons on hard work, character, and leadership;
The proposed regulations would be detrimental to the opportunity for youth to gain experiential learning and hands-on skills for enrollment in vocational agricultural training;
The proposed regulations would obstruct the opportunity for youth to find rewarding employment and earn money for a college education or other meaningful purposes;
The proposed regulations will limit opportunities to recruit young farmers to agriculture at a time when the average age of farmers continues to rise; and
Working on a farm has become a way of life for thousands of youth across the rural United States.