Thursday the US Department of Labor withdrew its proposed rule that would have affected children under the age of 16 working on the farm, and the reaction came swiftly from commodity groups, American and Indiana Farm Bureau, and legislators across the country.
Indiana Congressman Marlin Stutzman called it a foolish proposal and was surprised but pleased when the DOL statement was issued.
“I can tell you I’ve been a little paranoid with the issue altogether because when you’re working with the department they really have the ability to exercise a rule when they choose and thankfully we did flood them with calls and letters and explained to them the impact this would have on Hoosier farmers. Thankfully they have come to their senses and made the right decision, and hopefully it doesn’t come back.”
The Department of Labor said it won’t come back, indicating it will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.
“I hope that’s right. I hope that they don’t come back and revisit after the election. With that statement in their quote we’re going to hold them to that.”
DOL also stated they would like to team with USDA and other organizations like Farm Bureau, 4-H and FFA to develop a program to increase farm safety and lower the number of on-farm accidents.
Stutzman told HAT he’s all for education on issues like this one, “but I think they should really let the states handle these. We have a great Department of Education in Indiana that focuses on partnerships and education that would be capable, but you also have great organizations like Farm Bureau that already out teaching and being a partner with the ag community on farm safety. So I’m not sure what level they want to take this but those of us who live out on the farm understand the dangers, and with our schools and associations that are already in place we just continue to educate those on the farm and make sure that safety is the number one priority.”
Stutzman from Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District serves on the House Committee on Agriculture. That district includes all of DeKalb, Kosciusko, Lagrange, Noble, Steuben, and Whitley counties, and parts of Allen and Elkhart counties.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/04/Stutzman-reaction-to-DOL-withdrawal.mp3|titles=Stutzman reaction to DOL withdrawal]