Senator successful in blocking child farm labor rule changes

Jul 13, 2012
by WLJ

—Senate’s only active farmer has long opposed Labor Dept. proposal.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) last week recognized Sen. Jon Tester’s work in convincing the agency to withdraw its controversial plan to restrict Montana’s youth from safely working on farms and ranches.

DOL told Tester they will no longer pursue rules limiting youth involvement on farms and ranches.

Last fall, DOL announced proposed restrictions that would limit the work teens could do on farms and ranches owned by anyone other than their parents.

Tester, the Senate’s only active farmer, made sure Montana farmers and ranchers had a chance to voice their concerns before he called on DOL to drop the proposed restrictions altogether. He also introduced the bipartisan Preserving America’s Family Farms Act with Sen. John

Thune, R-SD, to prevent the new rules from going into effect.

Tester also spoke from the floor of the U.S. Senate urging DOL to withdraw its proposal, saying “the skills young people learn from working on a family farm translate into a healthy work ethic that will serve them their entire lives.”

“Today’s announcement comes as welcome news to Montana family farmers and ranchers and to Montana kids who, like me, have a strong passion for agriculture,” Tester said. “The future of Montana agriculture will not be set back by these rules.”

Tester, who grew up baling hay and “picking rocks” on his family’s farm, noted that while it’s important to keep our young people safe, it’s essential to expose them to valuable opportunities that develop a deep and long-lasting respect for work.

DOL’s letter to the senator is available online at Tester’s site at — WLJ