The U.S. Department of Labor has withdrawn a controversial proposal that farmers across the region said would harm the future of family farms.
The federal Labor Department had proposed a new rule to restrict how much and what types of work youth on farms could do. Opponents of the rule said it would put an onerous burden on and change the definition of a family farm. The Department of Labor announced Thursday night that they were officially withdrawing the proposal “...in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms...This regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.” New York Farm Bureau Spokesman Matt Nelligan says the move is great news.
A number of Congressional representatives were opposed to the rule and asked for a withdrawal or substantial changes. Among them were New York Congressmen Bill Owens and Chris Gibson. Owens says they heard concerns from numerous family farms.
Essex County Farm Bureau President Erik Leerkes says he worked on his father’s and his grandfather’s farm and that’s why he’s now on his own farm.
In Vermont, Jenny Nelson is not only Senator Bernie Sanders’ Ag Policy Advisor, she’s also an owner of Home Acres Farm in Ryegate.
The Department of Labor plans to develop educational programs to promote safe agricultural practices in conjunction with groups like the Farm Bureau, Future Farmers of America and the 4H.