WASHINGTON – Citing concerns raised in “thousands of comments,” the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced yesterday evening, April 26, 2012, it will withdraw its proposed rule regarding youth in agriculture. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President J.D. Alexander commended the administration’s action and said farmers and ranchers made their voices heard on the proposed rule, which could have restricted, and in some instances totally prevented, America’s youth from working on 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 worth ethic and enthusiasm for this very diverse industry,” said Alexander. “We absolutely have to have a sensible regulatory environment in Washington, D.C. We should not have to worry about negligent rules being promulgated by out-of-touch regulatory agencies. We encourage the administration to venture off the city sidewalks and learn more about where their food comes from.”
Alexander said this is not the first time the administration has proposed rules impacting agriculture before fully evaluating the consequences of the regulations. He said agency officials should reach out to farmers and ranchers prior to proposing a rule that could jeopardize the future of their profession.
“Rather than strapping our hands behind our backs and preventing American youth from learning the ropes of food and fiber production from today’s farmers and ranchers, the administration should work with farmers and ranchers to ensure the rules on the books are workable,” Alexander said. “Rules and regulations, including those related to America’s youth working on farms and ranches, need to ensure safe working conditions. But the original proposal simply went too far. Cattlemen’s voices were heard.”
Alexander said 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. He said NCBA will work with the beef community, regulatory agencies and policymakers to ensure a similar rule does not resurface in the future.