The Preserving America's Family Farm Act, H.R. 4157, passed the House Tuesday with a bipartisan voice vote.
The act, introduced by Congressman Tom Latham, R-Iowa, prohibits the Secretary of Labor from finalizing or enforcing its previously proposed rule, which would have prevented youth from engaging in day-to-day farm and ranch activities.
NCBA President J.D. Alexander said the administration’s proposed rule could have restricted, and in some instances totally prevented, America’s youth from working on family farms and ranches.
“This is a victory for farm and ranch families throughout the country. This ridiculous rule would have prevented the next generation of farmers and ranchers from acquiring skills and passion for this very noble profession. It also would have restricted urban kids from working on farms and acquiring a solid work ethic and enthusiasm for this very diverse industry,” Alexander said.
A host of other farm groups also voiced support for the act prior to vote. The American Farm Bureau, National Pork Producers Council and National Milk Producers were among 13 others submitting a letter to House members calling the proposed regulations "overly burdensome." The groups said the act would preserve the ability of youth to gain training and education on the farm.
National Milk Producers President and CEO Jerry Kozak stressed the importance of encouraging cooperation between the Labor Department and rural stakeholders to reduce accidents by developing education programs for young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices. He said the organization was "heartened" by Tuesday's House approval.
Kozak said the legislation was necessary to ensure similar DOL proposed legislation does not resurface. Alexander echoed Kozak's statements, and added that the administration’s action to withdraw the rule showcases the importance of farm and ranch families being engaged in decisions being made inside the Beltway.
The legislation was also introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan. The legislation (S. 2221) currently has 44 cosponsors. Alexander said he encourages the Senate to bring S. 2221 to the floor and pass it sooner rather than later.
“We appreciate the administration listening to U.S. agriculture and pulling this rule. However, it is essential that farm and ranch families are afforded a level of certainty that this rule will not come up again in some form of fashion,” Alexander said. “We need this legislation.”