This week the Department of Labor’s proposed rules that would classify the children of farm families as illegal child laborers came to the forefront. Since last August the Department of Labor has been considering new rules that would impose heavy fines on farm families whose children help with regular chores, feed livestock, drive a tractor or help with planting. The proposed child labor rules are the latest battle in the Obama Administration’s war on agriculture.
Since August, the Department of Labor has heard from farm families across the country and right here in Arkansas. The message has been unanimous: keep Washington out of family farms. While the Labor Department did announce they would not immediately impose labor rules on farm families, there is no guarantee that they will not try to implement the rules in the future.
After listening to families in our district, this week I signed on as a cosponsor of H.R. 4157, the Preserving America’s Family Farms Act. The legislation would prohibit the Department of Labor from ever imposing labor rules on farm families. Families in Arkansas should make decisions about raising their children and providing for their families, not bureaucrats from the Labor Department in Washington. On any farm, safety is a chief concern. The Preserving America’s Family Farms Act does not discount the value of safe farm practices. Instead, the bill empowers families to make decisions regarding safety.
Late this week as the Preserving America’s Family Farms Act was gaining steam in Congress the Department of Labor announced it would withdraw its rule concerning farm family children. After weeks of effort, calls, emails and letters from farm families across Arkansas and the entire country, family farms won. While the Department of Labor has dropped its rule, I will continue efforts to make sure Arkansas families can keep farming.
Many times I have said that the greatest divide in Washington is not between Republicans and Democrats. The greatest divide is between rural and urban interests. Family farm operations in Arkansas and across rural America tell our nation’s story. The family farm represents the success that comes from hard work and never being willing to settle for less than the absolute best. The farms also represent what can be achieved when the entire family joins together through good times and bad. Farm families prevailed in the latest round between common sense and Washington bureaucrats. In Congress, I will continue fighting to protect Arkansas farm families from the Obama Administration’s war on agriculture.