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Sens. Moran and Thune Voice Concerns Over Destructive Impact on DOL Proposed Rule

Senators called for complete withdrawal of regulation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) recently spoke on the Senate floor in a colloquy to voice their concerns over the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed rule impacting youth in agriculture, which will disrupt agricultural practices across the country and fundamentally alter the rural way of life. 

“I’m worried that the Department of Labor is hoping that Americans, that farmers and ranchers, that Members of Congress look the other way,” Sen. Moran said. “We would ask that the American people, particularly those who understand the importance of this issue, rise up and express their concern and tell the Secretary of Labor the tremendous consequences of a regulation that changes something that is so important to the character of rural America and the character of our country nationwide. … These proposed rules need to be totally withdrawn and we ought not accept the ruse of a portion of them being re-proposed.”  

“Farming and ranching is inherently a family enterprise,” Sen. Thune said. “Young people have contributed for generations in helping that family farm or ranch operation survive and prosper. … And it is amazing to me, really incomprehensible, to think that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. could tell family farmers and ranchers how to run their operations with the kind of detail and just the incredible prescription of these regulations in the very activities that they would curtail for young people. … It really is an example of big government run amok. You want an example of big government that has completely lost touch with reality, this is certainly an example of that.”

On February 1, 2012, DOL announced it would withdraw and re-evaluate the “parental exemption” portion of its proposed regulations effecting youth in agriculture. Sen. Moran and Sen. Thune have 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 have vast educational experience, success, and long-tenured relationships with rural communities, and they play a critical role in training and certifying young people to safely carry out farm activities. Rather than relying on these groups for student training, the Department criticizes these programs for being too locally driven and lacking federal direction. However, the Department offers no research or peer-reviewed study to substantiate its claims. 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 youth 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.

On October 26, 2011, Sen. Moran, along with Sen. Thune, 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, including Sen. Thune, in requesting that U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis withdraw the proposed rule.

Visit to learn more about protecting and preserving rural values for the next generation of American farmers and ranchers.

Click here to watch a video of Sen. Moran and Sen. Thune’s comments on the Senate floor on February 17, 2012.


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