WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor issued the following statement on April 26 regarding the withdrawal of a proposed rule dealing with children who work in agricultural vocations:
“The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations.
“As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations.
“The decision to withdraw this rule — including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ — was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.
“Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders — such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H — to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.”
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch issued the following statement today in response to the Department of Labor’s decision:
“The Obama administration’s decision to back down from implementing these ridiculous regulations is the right one. To even suggest imposing such extreme restrictions reveals the White House’s profound ignorance about America’s rural heritage and way of life. Washington has no business trying to regulate the relationship of parents and children on our family farms. It is truly sad that it took pressure from me and others in the Senate, as well the public outcry from farming families in Utah and other states, for the Administration to see that.
“If the Labor Department’s suggested rules had been allowed to go forward, it would have not only jeopardized a way of life, but robbed our youth of the opportunity to learn the skills and work ethic that will not only help them succeed in any endeavor, but also have made the American farmer and farming industry the envy of the world.”
According to Hatch’s press release, last year, U.S. Labor Department Secretary Hilda Solis proposed draconian rules that would have hurt family farming operations by restricting youth under 18 from being near certain animals without adult supervision, participating in common livestock practices such as vaccinating and foot trimming, and handling most animals more than 6 months old, which would have severely limited youth from participating in the 4-H Program, FFA activities and youth safety classes. It also would bar them from operating farm machinery over 20 PTO horsepower, doing tasks at elevations higher than six feet, and working in stockyards and grain and feed facilities. In fact, Hatch’s release said, the language was so extreme, it would have banned youth from operating a battery powered screwdriver or using a pressurized garden hose.
This past December, Hatch and 29 Senate colleagues sent a letter to Secretary Solis, asking her to withdraw the proposed rules.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.