Senator John Thune, R-S.D., has introduced a bill seeking to prevent the U.S. Labor Department from imposing rules that would limit the jobs children can do on farms. The bill is called the Preserving America's Family Farm Act, which Thune says is legislation aimed at preventing the Department of Labor from moving forward and implementing their very controversial and unsolicited 85-page proposed regulations that would severely restrict young people working on family farms.
Thune says the Department of Labor's proposed rule would prohibit those younger than 18 from handling livestock in some circumstances or operating some farm machinery.
"Participating in practices such as vaccination and branding, working with animals older than six months, working with certain fairly basic forms of farm equipment like lawnmowers and tillers," Thune said. "Just incredibly restrictive regulations that strike at the at the very heart and core of our family farm and ranching culture."
Thune says the proposed rules would restrict the participation of young people in agricultural activities.
"The lessons and the work ethics that young people learn on family farms and 4-H and FFA about agriculture and about caring for livestock prepares them for futures in agriculture," Thune said. "Whether that be on the family farm or other agriculture-related fields."
The rules would exempt children working on their families' farms from some of the restrictions, but Thune says they are still too restrictive and that it is clear these regulations were written by people in Washington who have not spent time on a farm.
"Young people on farms are taught safety lessons by the people who care most for them," Thune said. "They don't need Washington bureaucrats in 85 pages of regulations how to best keep their children safe. This is yet another case of government overreach and my legislation would prevent these unnecessary regulations and this unnecessary government intervention from going into effect."
Thune and Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kan., introduced the bill, and 36 other senators have signed on as co-sponsors. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., one of those co-sponsors, says he is proud to support this bipartisan bill.
"Having grown up working on farms, I am extremely opposed to the Obama Administration’s ridiculous government overreach," Blunt said. "Not only would this rule prevent the next generation of farmers and ranchers from learning how to safely work in this industry, but it would harm programs like 4-H and FFA that help foster and develop critical skills for future leaders in agriculture. Farmers and ranchers care deeply about the safety of their workers, but these unreasonable regulations would hurt job creators who rely on young people to assist with their day-to-day operations."