Press Releases

Boozman Statement on Withdrawal of Proposed Farm Child Labor Rule

Withdrawal comes on heels of Boozman Amendment to prevent rule

Apr 27 2012

WASHINGTON D.C. –U.S. Senator John Boozman, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today applauded the Obama Administration’s abandonment of a proposed rule that would have applied child labor laws to the work performed by youths on their family’s farm.

“Family farming is a core American value.  Generations of Americans have earned their livelihood and learned important life lessons safely working their family’s land,” Boozman said.  “Therefore, I am pleased to see that the President has ditched this onerous proposed rule.  There was no commonsense, science or reason behind this proposal and it seemed to be written by bureaucrats who lack a full understanding of farm operations.  This proposed rule was merely another attempt by the federal government to control every aspect of our lives.”

The proposed rule, drafted by the Department of Labor (DOL), would have dramatically changed the manner in which children could work on farms owned by family members prohibiting them from operating machinery, performing regular livestock tasks and working with raw farm materials.

“The Department was under no obligation to issue new regulations and opted not to disclose any information about the process that was used to determine how they arrived at this heavy-handed proposal.  They seemed to have embarked on it with the attitude of ‘we know better than you’, which is dangerous when the authors clearly have a limited understanding of how family farms operate,” Boozman said.

The 85-pages of the proposed rule would have gone as far as to strip groups like 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) of the ability to offer agriculture safety training and certification to young Americans, transferring that authority over to the federal government.   

“My daughters are among the millions of Americans who have participated in 4-H and greatly benefitted from that experience.  It is absurd to think the government could teach our young people about farm safety better than these groups or their own family members,” Boozman said.

During yesterday’s Farm Bill markup, Boozman offered an amendment to block DOL from issuing the onerous farm child labor regulations by transferring authority over those regulations to the Secretary of Agriculture.  While the amendment was withdrawn, it continued the pressure Boozman and his colleagues have been putting on the Obama Administration for months as part of a campaign to stop this proposed rule from moving forward.   

“The idea behind the amendment is the need to bring a common-sense perspective to the issue, instead of the far-reaching response proposed by people who don’t have any concept at all about what it is like to be on a family farm.  Fortunately, the pressure the agricultural community and Congress put on the Administration was enough to force them to abandon it,” Boozman said.

Along with offering an amendment, Boozman cosponsored the Preserving America's Family Farms Act (S.2221) to prevent DOL from enacting its controversial proposed restrictions on youth working on family farms.  He also joined over 30 of his colleagues on a letter to DOL requesting it abandon the proposed rule.

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