Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey have co-authored a letter to United States Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis expressing their concern over new federal regulations limiting the work and involvement of youth on family farms. The regulations discourage farmers from engaging young people in agriculture and prevent future farmers from acquiring the critical skills and experience needed for a successful career in agriculture.
"These new, overreaching regulations will prevent young people from learning through supervised hands-on experience and obtaining life-long values," says Branstad. "The federal government should not construct further employment barriers at a time when there are fewer job opportunities available for young people." This is a prime example of "federal over-reach," says Branstad.
Branstad, Northey speak out against burdensome regulations on farm families
Agriculture is currently one of the few bright spots in the U.S. economy. Iowa's economy is composed of a unique mix of industries, but agriculture remains a core industry within Iowa. Governor Branstad and Secretary Northey believe farm families should not be saddled with burdensome federal regulations.
"We need more young farmers in Iowa to carry on our agricultural traditions," says Northey. "We are concerned that these rules will have the unintended consequences of discouraging farmers from engaging young people in agriculture and preventing future farmers from acquiring the critical skills and experience needed for a successful career in agriculture."
To give Iowa farmers, who have just about completed the fall 2011 harvest, a fair chance to comment on the regulations, Branstad and Northey have respectfully requested an additional 45 day extension for comments, until January 15, 2012. For more information visit www.governor.iowa.gov.
The proposed new child labor rules would put limits on kids' farm chores
The proposed changes in federal safety rules would severely restrict the type of farm work young people under age 16 can do and which farms they can work on, and threaten to undermine the long tradition of extended families working together in agriculture, says Phil Sundblad, an Albert City farmer and Iowa Farm Bureau district director. "We're all firmly committed to ensuring farm safety, but I think this goes way beyond that. These new rules the federal labor department wants to implement could really alter the way families work together and our ability to instill values, like hard work and responsibility, in our children."
The U.S. Department of Labor released its proposed changes to agricultural child labor rules for public comment in September. The department has said the rules are designed to bring agricultural labor rules in line with more stringent rules for non-agricultural industries.
The broadly-written new rules for ag would bar young people under age of 16, who are not children of a farm's owner, from doing a number of typical farm chores, such as herding livestock or haying. Additionally, the proposal would prohibit farm workers under 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment or riding as passengers on all farm equipment that is being moved on public roads. Using un-powered equipment, such as box conveyors or block and tackles, would also be prohibited. The laws would even prohibit young farm workers from working on ladders that are more than 6 feet tall or stacking hay any higher than 6 feet. A young person would also be prohibited from working on a farm owned by a grandparent or other relative unless the child actually lives on the relative's farm and does not have to commute to it.