Monday, October 31, 2011

Just in from Washington

Lawmakers Work to Stop Overregulation of Farms, Ranches

Washington--Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) this week led 30 of their Senate colleagues in asking Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to allow farmers and ranchers adequate time to comment on a proposed rule that would limit their ability to hire youth to work in agriculture. The rule also threatens the education and training of future farmers. At issue are the Labor Department’s proposed changes to regulations issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Included in the proposed rule change are restrictions that severely limit what youths can do on a farm or ranch not directly owned or operated by their parents.

The senators asked for a 60-day extension of the comment period on the proposed changes given that the current comment period falls during the fall harvest season. Moran and his colleagues believe farmers and ranchers were given inadequate notice and insufficient time to comment on a rule that could fundamentally disrupt agriculture practices across the country.

“Not only would this regulation, as currently drafted, have far-reaching effects on youth agricultural education programs, farms, ranches and other agricultural businesses, it could greatly impact the structure of family farms and rural communities in the states we represent,” the senators wrote in a letter to Solis. “It is particularly concerning that DOL would publish a proposed rule in September and set the comment period during the fall harvest season.”

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over DOL, recently sent a similar letter with 77 of his House colleagues to Soli about their concerns with the rule and also asking for an extension of the comment period.

DOL officials on Thursday told Congress that it will extend the comment period for the rule by 30 days (from Nov. 1 to Dec. 1). AFBF supports a 60-day extension of the comment period and joins the lawmakers in requesting this from DOL.

Moran news release

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