Citing concerns raised in "thousands of comments" that were sent to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regarding its proposed new rules on children under the age of 16 working on farms, the government labor department announced on April 26 that it is withdrawing its proposed rules regarding youth in agriculture. National Cattlemen's Beef Association president J.D. Alexander commended the Obama administration's action to withdraw their proposal. And farmers and ranchers also made their voices heard on the proposed rule, which could have restricted, and in some instances totally prevented, America's youth from working on farms and ranches.
The Iowa Cattlemen's Association was among those that submitted comments to DOL objecting the proposed rule. "This is a victory for farm and ranch families in Iowa and throughout the country. This rule would have prevented the next generation of Iowa farmers from acquiring the skills and passion for working in the beef business. It also would have restricted non-farm kids from working on farms and acquiring a solid worth ethic and enthusiasm for this industry," says Matt Deppe, ICA CEO.
"Rules and Regulations, including those related to our farm youth, need to ensure safe working conditions. But the original proposal simply went too far," he says. "Cattlemen's voices were heard, for there cattlemen's voices were heard," he said.
Cattlemens' voices were heard, administration drops farm youth labor rule
NCBA's Alexander adds: "We absolutely have to have a sensible regulatory environment in Washington, D.C. We should not have to worry about negligent rules being promulgated by out-of-touch regulatory agencies."
Alexander said this is not the first time the administration has proposed rules impacting agriculture before fully evaluating the consequences of the regulations. He said agency officials should reach out to farmers and ranchers prior to proposing a rule that could jeopardize the future of their profession. "Rather than strapping our hands behind our backs and preventing American youth from learning the ropes of food and fiber production-- the administration in power should work with farmers and ranchers to ensure the rules on the books are workable," Alexander says.
Alexander says the administration's action to withdraw the rule showcases the importance of farm and ranch families being engaged in decisions being made inside the Beltway. He said NCBA will work with the beef community, regulatory agencies and policymakers to ensure a similar rule does not resurface in the future.
Northey is pleased the U.S. Labor Department responded to public outcry
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey issued the following statement on the announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor that the federal officials are withdrawing proposed rules that would impact children working on farms. Northey sent a letter to the Department of Labor, which he authored with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad last fall, expressing concerns about the proposed rules.
Northey said last week: "I'm pleased the U.S. Department of Labor responded to the public outcry and withdrew these proposed rules in their entirety. We need to encourage young people to be involved with agriculture and learn from responsible adults about how to operate machinery and care for animals, these proposed rules would have done just the opposite. I appreciate the involvement of Governor Branstad and Iowa's congressional delegation to oppose these rules and hope this will discourage further overreach by the U.S. Department of Labor and other federal agencies."
Branstad says proposal was prime example of federal regulatory overreach
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds released a statement regarding the U.S. Department of Labor's withdrawal of the proposed rules that would have placed burdensome restrictions on the activities of young people in agriculture.
Branstad and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in November, 2011, expressing concerns over these proposed regulations. Branstad also discussed his continued concerns with U.S. Department of Labor officials and the Iowa congressional delegation during his February trip to Washington, DC. In addition, both he and Lt. Governor Reynolds discussed the proposed rules on Monday in a roundtable discussion with FFA members and state leaders at the Iowa Capitol.
Gov. Terry Branstad stated the following: "I applaud this announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor to withdraw their proposed rules for young people participating in agriculture. The proposed rules were a prime example of federal overreach and it is unfortunate that they were proposed in the first place. That said, I'm glad that common sense has prevailed. The parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and neighbors who care the most about the young people starting a career in agriculture are best positioned to determine the capabilities and safety of the kids they love. Agriculture continues to be a bright spot in the U.S. economy and we should continue to oppose regulations that lack common sense.
Governor looks forward to working with stakeholders such as FFA and 4-H
"I look forward to continuing to work with agricultural stakeholders, including the FFA and 4-H, to build upon successful grassroots initiatives that truly help to continually improve agricultural working practices for young people."
Lt. Governor Reynolds stated the following: "I am heartened to see this change in course from the U.S. Department of Labor. The governor and I have heard from numerous Iowans that these proposed rules would have prevented young people from learning career and life skills through active participation in livestock operations and many aspects of crop production. In addition, there were significant concerns that the federal government was seeking to narrow the definition of the parental exemption in a way that would have been totally disjointed from the realities and structures of current family farms. The Governor and I discussed these rules with Iowa FFA students and Secretary Northey earlier this week. We would also like to thank those Members of the Iowa congressional delegation who were actively engaged in this issue, including the efforts of Iowa Congressman Tom Latham to preempt these regulations with legislation if the rules had not been withdrawn."