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Legislation to Counter Proposed Child Farm Labor Rules
USAgNet - 12/20/2011

Iowa Congressman Tom Latham is taking action to support the tradition of family farms as bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Labor push to restrict the ability of youth to do farm work. The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed updated regulations on labor practices for minors in agricultural operations.

Historically, family farms have been exempted from such rules, but Congressman Latham has expressed concerns that a new proposal could be interpreted to exclude operations that are partly owned by extended family members such as grandparents, aunts or uncles.

Such practices occur often in modern agriculture as families employ a variety of legal structures to remain financially viable.

In response, Congressman Latham authored and introduced bipartisan legislation on Friday that expresses the sense of Congress that 'the Secretary of Labor should recognize the unique circumstances of family farm youth and multi-generational family partnerships in agricultural operations when drafting regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act.'

Rep. Dan Boren, an Oklahoma Democrat, is co-sponsoring the legislation.

"Here we have yet another overreach by the federal government in an ongoing effort to tell the family farmer how they should run every aspect of their operation," he said. "In 2007, there were more than 6,000 farms in Iowa held by family corporations, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The current regulatory structure has been interpreted by federal agencies to exempt such operations, but there’s no guarantee that a new regulation would be interpreted the same way."

Congressman Latham said he will seek out additional input from farmers and agricultural groups such as FFA and 4-H on the topic and introduce additional legislation after Congress reconvenes next year that will update U.S. code to reflect the realities of modern farming.

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