Passage of youth labor legislation is a positive move for agriculture.
Growing up, my younger sisters and I were Dad’s chore help. He taught us how to feed cattle, drive the four-wheeler and tractor, stack bales, pitch manure, fix fence, chop weeds and treat sick calves. While kids in town may have had to do chores like wash dishes and make their bed, we were busy working outside, learning from a young age that the cattle relied on us to care for them.
Although I didn’t always appreciate having to work on the ranch, looking back now, I know the chores helped shape me into who I am today. More than that, without us to help with the chores, Dad would have had to hire employees to help.
If the Obama administration’s Department of Labor (DOL) had its way, a lot of kids wouldn’t be allowed to help on the farm or ranch. When DOL proposed a rule earlier this year regarding youth in agriculture, farm and ranch families were perplexed. Young people play a huge role in family-owned agriculture businesses, and the proposed rule, which was later withdrawn, would have been a detriment to those farm families who rely on kids to help with everything from cattle chores, to throwing square bales, to driving machinery.
But, just because DOL pulled back the proposed rule doesn’t mean agriculture felt confident about future regulations that might impose on family traditions. So, Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) introduced the Preserving America’s Family Farm Act (H.R. 4157), which was passed a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, July 24.
H.R. 4157 will prevent the DOL from finalizing or enforcing its previously proposed rule, ensuring that this rule will not be reintroduced. Similar legislation (S. 2221) has now been introduced in the Senate by Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Jerry Moran (R-KS).
Here’s hoping S. 2221 is passed quickly, so that America’s farm and ranch families can feel secure that their children can be a part of the tradition of food production.
What do you think of the legislation? If passed by the U.S. Senate, will this measure serve the purpose of protecting farm and ranch families?