Sens. Moran (R-Kan.) and Thune (R-S.D.), along with 36 bipartisan cosponsors, introduced the Preserving America’s Family Farm Act. The legislation is intended to prevent the Dept. of Labor (DOL) from enacting a controversial rule proposed in Sept. 2011 that would place new restrictions on youth working in agriculture. A similar measure (H.R. 4157) was introduced on March 7, 2012, in the House by Rep. Latham (R-Iowa) and three other cosponsors.
The DOL is “re-proposing” the portion of their proposed child labor rule regarding the agricultural parental exemption, which allowed children under 15 to perform certain tasks on farms owned by their families. Although the re-proposed rule is anticipated to clarify that children of farm operators, including those involved in various partnerships and other business models, would be exempt from the regulations, the legislation seeks to stop the entire rule from being implemented. The rule also would prohibit youths under the age of 18 from working with farm animals without adult supervision, operating certain types of farm machinery, or working in stockyards and grain and feed facilities.
No committee hearings or mark-ups on either of the bills have been announced. The re-proposed rule should be published by early summer. However, the DOL will continue to review comments received regarding the remainder of the proposed rule and will proceed toward finalizing the proposed rule. No date has been set for finalizing the remainder of the proposed rule, but the NCC remains engaged and will monitor the process.