(WIBW) - The Obama administration withdrew a controversial new set of regulations for young people working in agriculture Thursday evening.
Critics said the rules would have stopped children from helping on the family farm and even from doing 4-H projects with most animals.
Instead of the rules, the Department of Labor says it will work with groups such as the Farm Bureau and FFA on educational programs to reduce farm accidents. The administration says the change in direction was the result of concerns raised by thousands of people across the country.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran called the move a victory for farmers and ranchers. He says the proposal would have further reduced the rural workforce, deprived young people of valuable career training and "a way of life would have begun to disappear."
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts also applauded the decision, saying the administration listened to common sense.
Full statement from Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas:
“American farmers and ranchers received welcome news this evening: the Department of Labor finally listened to them and withdrew its proposed youth farm labor rule, which would have fundamentally altered the future of agriculture in our country. If the Department would have moved forward with regulating the relationship between parents and children on their own farm, a dangerous precedent would have been set; virtually nothing would be off limits when it comes to government intrusion into our lives.
“Out of respect for the rural way of life, the Administration has agreed to not pursue this regulation further. Instead it will work with rural stakeholders – such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, FFA, and 4-H – to promote safety among youth workers in agriculture. This is exactly what we have been asking for all along – those who know agriculture best should have been consulted from the start.
“For generations, the contributions of young people have helped family farm and ranch operations survive and prosper. If this proposal had gone into effect, not only would the shrinking rural workforce have been further reduced, and our nation’s youth deprived of valuable career training opportunities, but a way of life would have begun to disappear. This is a tremendous victory for farmers and ranchers across the country.”
Last year, DOL Secretary Hilda Solis proposed rules that would restrict family farm operations by prohibiting youth under the age of 16 from participating in common livestock practices such as vaccinating and hoof trimming, and handling most animals more than six months old, which would severely limit participation in 4-H and FFA activities and restrict their youth farm safety classes; operating farm machinery over 20 PTO horsepower; completing tasks at elevations over six feet high; and working at stockyards and grain and feed facilities. The language of the proposed rule is so specific it would even ban youth from operating a battery powered screwdriver or a pressurized garden hose.
Full statement from Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas:
"I am pleased the Administration has listened to reason and has withdrawn a highly criticized proposed rule that would have fundamentally altered the rural way of life in America for generations to come," Roberts said. "Under the leadership of Kansas' Senator Jerry Moran, farm country united against this short-sided proposal and once again commonsense prevails. The Administration should apply these lessons to all of its burdensome regulations."