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Senators Fight for Family Farms

Risch, Crapo Cosponsor Bill to Prevent Federal Government Overreach on Farms

March 22, 2012

Washington, DC - Idaho Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo are working to stop federal regulatory overreach on Idaho family farms and ranches.  The Preserving America's Family Farms Act, S.2221, recently introduced in the U.S. Senate, would prevent the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing a new labor regulation that would negatively impact existing agricultural and education programs and family farm structures.

The DOL proposed a rule that will adversely affect the ability of farmers and ranchers to hire young people to work on farms and ranches.   The proposed rule would restrict the type of work rural youth can do, limit their ability to work on farms other than those owned by immediate family and limit the ability of cooperative extension services and vocational education programs, such as FFA and 4-H, to offer certain types of training.  The Preserving America's Family Farms Act would prohibit the U.S. Secretary of Labor from finalizing or enforcing these new restrictions.

"I've heard from countless Idahoans about this important issue.  As a rancher, I understand the challenges they face training the next generation of farmers and ranchers while also trying to make a living," said Risch.  "These rules are impractical, unneeded and threaten an essential part of our Idaho economy.  I am committed to seeing they do not take effect."

"This is yet another example of unnecessary regulatory overreach by the federal government into the lives of Idahoans," Crapo said.  "If implemented, this regulation would have far-reaching effects on youth and agricultural education programs, farms, ranches and other agricultural businesses.  It would greatly impact the structure of family farms and rural communities throughout the state."

"These proposed changes to current child labor regulations are yet another example of the heavy hand of the federal government meddling where it shouldn't," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley.  "Regulations can't take the place of common sense and these proposed changes would not only take away opportunities for young people to gain work experience, they also have the potential to create labor shortages during critical periods of the year like harvest and planting."

The bill, which now goes to Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, was introduced by Senators John Thune (R-ND), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Jerry Moran(R-KS).  Along with Crapo and Risch, co-sponsors include Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John Kyl (R-AZ), Mike Lee (R-UT), Richard Lugar (R-IN), John McCain (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).