Recently it was announced that Representative Tom Latham, R-Iowa and Representative Dan Boren, D – Oklahoma have introduced a bill to Congress blocking the Department of Labor’s attempts to implement any sort of regulation preventing youth from working on farms owned by their families.
We first heard about it on the Pork Network and it’s been on The Cattle Network recently. Latham’s office posted a press release about it on his website March 8 – National Ag Day. Boren’s office posted information about it on his website last December.
“The family farm is one of Iowa’s most cherished traditions and a cornerstone of our state and nation’s economy and cultural history,” Congressman Latham said. “The armies of federal bureaucrats who spend day after day drawing up new regulations have now set their sights on the institution of the family farm. It is a misguided idea that threatens the ability of America’s youth to contribute to farms owned by their own families. My legislation blocks Washington’s regulation monster from yet another intrusion into the operations of our family farms.”
The University of Missouri and Farm Safety 4 Just Kids do not take a positive or negative stance any sort of government regulation. Our organizations seek to educate people and encourage them to voice their opinion whether that be in favor of or against the proposed rules.
That said, we’d like to possibly offer a little background about the proposed rules and the new bill before Congress.
The press release from Rep. Latham’s office states:
“The legislation, the Preserving America’s Family Farms Act, bars the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing any regulation that would prohibit farm youth from working on farms owned by their families by restricting finalization of the rule the department proposed in September of 2011.”
The current proposed child labor laws do not prohibit children from working on their families’ farms either. From the Department of Labor: “The parental exemption allows children of any age who are employed by their parent, or a person standing in the place of a parent, to perform any job on a farm owned or operated by their parent or such person standing in place of a parent.” Questions arose in response to the obvious gray areas. Does a parent have to be the sole owner? Does the parent have to reside on the farm where the work will take place? What constitutes “standing in place of a parent?” In response, the Department of Labor said they would expand the parental exemption. To our knowledge, updated language hasn’t been released. There’s a chance the Department of Labor has re-written the exemption to tie up those gray areas. We don’t know.
Latham’s release goes on to say:
“The Department of Labor’s proposed regulation also would eliminate a pair of certification programs that allow student learners to perform certain kinds of farm work, such as the operation of tractors. The proposed elimination of the certification programs has drawn opposition from farm youth groups like FFA and 4-H.”
Based on our review of the proposed rules, these certification programs not only remain in tact but, in the case of tractor certification, require more hours of classroom time than before. The change, as we read it, deals not with the elimination of these certification programs, but rather a change in program requirements and instruction.
We have read the proposal, and the responses are our interpretation of it.
But that’s the problem. Everyone that reads the proposed rules walks away with a different interpretation and different questions.
That’s why it’s crucial for you to share your opinion, whatever it may be. The official comment period has ended. Should it be opened for comment again in the future, we’ll be the first to let you know. In the meantime, we encourage you to contact your local representative with your questions and concerns.
By voicing your opinion you can be part of the solution.
You must be at least 18 years of age to participate. If you are not at least 18-years-old please don’t comment.