News Releases

Department of Labor to Withdraw "Parental Exemption" Portion of Proposed Farm Labor Rules

"I will continue to work on behalf of Kansans to stop this vast overreach of executive authority and protect individual rights"

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it will withdraw and re-evaluate the “parental exemption” portion of its proposed regulations effecting youth in agriculture, which many see as a threat to the future of farming and ranching. If the remaining portions of the regulation are still implemented, they will impose overly-burdensome restrictions on many common farm activities performed by youth on farms or ranches. U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) has worked to educate DOL on the potentially disastrous impact of the entire proposal, which would fundamentally alter the rural way of life and disrupt agriculture practices across the country.

DOL’s decision to withdraw with the ‘parental exemption’ portion of its rule is promising news and speaks to the power of citizens sharing their concerns with Washington. Unfortunately, the entire proposal – not just this one portion – is a threat to the future of agriculture,” Sen. Moran said. “We know that rural America’s values are not always Washington’s values, and in recent months I have worked to make certain this destructive rule does not move forward by sharing my concerns and the concerns of many Kansas farmers and ranchers with the Secretary of Labor. As this process moves forward, I will continue to work on behalf of Kansans to stop this vast overreach of executive authority and protect individual rights."

Sen. Moran has serious concerns about the remaining portion of the proposed regulation which would disrupt the education of the next generation of farmers and ranchers. DOL proposes doing away with successful farm safety training and certification programs like cooperative extension, 4-H and FFA. These organizations play a critical role in training and certifying young people to safely carry out farm activities. The Department has ignored research that shows such programs improve safety habits of young people and instead criticizes these training programs for being too locally driven and lacking federal direction. Agriculture is regionally diverse, but DOL proposes subjecting farmers and ranchers to a national standard that will weaken these important training programs.

Additionally, DOL is recommending rules that will result in children being unable to perform common farm tasks like rounding up cattle on horseback, operating a tractor, or cleaning out stalls with a shovel and wheelbarrow.

"Our country cannot afford to lose the next generation of farmers and ranchers,” Sen. Moran continued. “Parents and communities should be allowed to look after the best interests of their families and citizens. And local experts should be the ones conducting safety training programs to educate our nation’s young people."

On October 2011, Sen. Moran requested a 60-day extension of the comment period on the proposed rule because the original comment period fell during the fall harvest season. After fully reviewing the proposed rule, Sen. Moran led 29 of his colleagues in requesting that U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis withdraw the proposed rule. The senator also provided Kansans with an opportunity to share their stories about the value of working on a farm, and most recently invited Secretary Solis to Kansas so she can personally see how the proposed rules threaten the future of farming and ranching.

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