Saturday, April 28, 2012

Boozman: Pushback from Family Farmers, Congress Leads to Withdraw of Proposed Farm Child Labor Rule

Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News: The following was just received and is welcome news.  Although the battle is not over to protect the American culture of family farming!  The abondonment of the proposed rule to apply child labor  laws to work performed by youth on family owned farms is at most temporary.  The Obama administration is simply tamping out the flames before they become critical to the current president's campaign for re-election.  If re-elected, family farming will be further attacked by bureucrats, their oeprations stangled andthey may potentially cease to exist.  The present administration is following the same plans established by more radical governments that swallowed up the control of their country's food supply.&

I was big enough and strong enough to play varsity football from my freshman year and one of the things that kept me in shape was working on farms.  By the time, I was 15 until age 18, I was employed full time on school breaks:  plowing fields, mowing and  bailing hay, milking cows, feeding and cleaning up after cattle and hogs, and much more.  I loved it!  I learned valuable lessons and was kept physically fit.  It it had not been for the Vietnam War and draft, my wife and I ;may well have become farmers.

Unfortunately, most Americans have no idea of the iportance of the American farmers to both their welfare and that of the world.  The actions by Senator Boozman and others standing against the tide of the government desire to control every aspect of our lives are appreciated.

Withdrawal comes on heels of Boozman Amendment to prevent rule

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator John Boozman, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today applauded the Obama Administration’s abandonment of a proposed rule that would have applied child labor laws to the work performed by youths on their family’s farm.

“Family farming is a core American value. Generations of Americans have earned their livelihood and learned important life lessons safely working their family’s land,” Boozman said. “Therefore, I am pleased to see that the President has ditched this onerous proposed rule. There was no commonsense, science or reason behind this proposal and it seemed to be written by bureaucrats who lack a full understanding of farm operations. This proposed rule was merely another attempt by the federal government to control every aspect of our lives.”

The proposed rule, drafted by the Department of Labor (DOL), would have dramatically changed the manner in which children could work on farms owned by family members prohibiting them from operating machinery, performing regular livestock tasks and working with raw farm materials.

“The Department was under no obligation to issue new regulations and opted not to disclose any information about the process that was used to determine how they arrived at this heavy-handed proposal. They seemed to have embarked on it with the attitude of ‘we know better than you’, which is dangerous when the authors clearly have a limited understanding of how family farms operate,” Boozman said.

The 85-pages of the proposed rule would have gone as far as to strip groups like 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) of the ability to offer agriculture safety training and certification to young Americans, transferring that authority over to the federal government.

“My daughters are among the millions of Americans who have participated in 4-H and greatly benefitted from that experience. It is absurd to think the government could teach our young people about farm safety better than these groups or their own family members,” Boozman said.

During yesterday’s Farm Bill markup, Boozman offered an amendment to block DOL from issuing the onerous farm child labor regulations by transferring authority over those regulations to the Secretary of Agriculture. While the amendment was withdrawn, it continued the pressure Boozman and his colleagues have been putting on the Obama Administration for months as part of a campaign to stop this proposed rule from moving forward.

“The idea behind the amendment is the need to bring a common-sense perspective to the issue, instead of the far-reaching response proposed by people who don’t have any concept at all about what it is like to be on a family farm. Fortunately, the pressure the agricultural community and Congress put on the Administration was enough to force them to abandon it,” Boozman said.

Along with offering an amendment, Boozman cosponsored the Preserving America's Family Farms Act (S.2221) to prevent DOL from enacting its controversial proposed restrictions on youth working on family farms. He also joined over 30 of his colleagues on a letter to DOL requesting it abandon the proposed rule.
It was great to see some elected officials getting fired up over protecting both the culture of America farming and the farm family.  The above statement was received on the heals of the following message from the "gentle giant" received late yesterday from his staff:

Farm Bill Lacks Protections for Southern Farmers

WASHINGTON D.C. –U.S.Senator John Boozman, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee expressed strong concerns about new commodity programs and lack of protection for southern farmers during today’s Farm Bill markup.

“This nation has a diverse fabric of agriculture with a variety of risks, and we must write a Farm Bill that serves as a safety net for all crops and regions,” said Boozman. “The commodity title, as it is currently written, will have a devastating impact on southern agriculture which relies heavily on irrigation and, therefore, benefits less from Crop Insurance.”

Although the Farm Bill includes important reforms, exceeds required committee spending reductions and eliminates duplicative or obsolete government programs, Boozman is very concerned that the untested, one-size-fits-all revenue plan will not work for southern producers.

“A safety net that works for all our nation’s producers of food and fiber must include producer choices that cover their risk. Although there are choices in this revenue plan to meet the needs of several other crops and regions, this proposal falls short of the protection southern farmers need against multi-year price declines,” Boozman said.

Boozman expressed concerns that a revenue plan may work for some people when prices are high, but a multi-year price decline could expose the gaps in coverage.

“I am very concerned that this proposal is couched in the assumption that we will continue to have these high commodity prices. A revenue plan is attractive when prices are high, but I am not sure there is anything in this plan that protects producers from a multi-year price decline and an untested, one-size-fits-all program, with no producer choice could leave many producers vulnerable,” Boozman said during the markup.

Boozman also expressed concerns about the ability for producers to demonstrate a level of coverage sufficient to get operating loans.

“Even with a reference price, this revenue plan may not even be strong enough for our farmers to get operating loans,” Boozman said during the markup.

Boozman believes that the bill does not do enough to end waste and abuse in the nutrition program and reinvest those savings in ways that fight hunger and encourage nutrition. For this reason, he introduced an amendment to fully close the LIHEAP loophole, saving $13.9 billion. The amendment would reinvest some of the savings by increasing reimbursement rates for the School Breakfast and Lunch programs to help states and municipalities cope with higher costs resulting from unfunded increases in federal nutrition standards.

Boozman opposed final passage of the bill, but expressed his commitment to working with his colleagues to get a Farm Bill done that protects all crops and regions this year.

“With all of the members of this committee working together to give up their fair share and get back what they need, we can build the consensus necessary to usher a Farm Bill through the legislative process and see it signed into law this year. We can do this while preserving the safety net, making reforms, and achieving deficit reduction. I am confident that we can craft a bill that we are all proud of, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Chair, Ranking Member, and all the members of this Committee and seeing this through”

Boozman also proposed amendments to:
- Address the Department of Labor’s onerous on farm child labor regulations by transferring authority over those regulations to the Secretary of Agriculture. Boozman said “this would bring a common-sense perspective to the issue instead of the heavy-handed response proposed now by people who don’t have any concept at all about what it is like to be in a farm family.”
- Clarify language from the 2008 Farm Bill relating to FSA office closures by specifying criteria as 20 “road” miles and ensure that office could not be closed under the criteria of 2 or fewer employees if that number was achieved as a result of USDA action; such as offering early retirement or transferring employees
- Reign in onerous regulations that increase the cost of food.

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