One of the most contentious regulatory issues to come along in in some time may have simply gone away. The U.S. Department of Labor issued a statement late Thursday regarding potential workrule changes that would have impacted family farm labor across the country. Here's the official statement issued by the Obama administration:
"The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations.
“As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations."
The agency says the decision to withdraw the rule, including provisions to define 'parental exception' was made in response to "thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration."
The agency says the next steps will be to work with rural stakeholder groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, FFA and 4-H to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.
In a statement issued in response by Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation, the organization said the move was "the right decision for our nation's family-based agriculture system. Farm Bureau appreciates the administration’s decision and efforts by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to listen to farmers, ranchers and other rural Americans. We also know that this would not have happened without the efforts of Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., and others in Congress, and we thank them for standing up for agriculture and the rural way of life."
Stallman's statement says the organization will continue working to ensure that the parental exemptions that remain important to agriculture will be protected, and we will continue our work to help educate families about the importance of farm safety."