It was a solution in search of a problem…the Department of Labor’s proposed rule restricting young people from working on farms. Well, late Thursday, DOL, apparently having listened to the thousands of comments received from across the nation, withdrew the proposed rule and suspended the rule making process. Director of Communications for North Carolina Department of Agriculture Brian Long:
“I think the Labor Department noted the overwhelming response that they got on this proposal, and the overwhelmingly negative response they got to this proposal. Goes to show that people do have a voice, and when they speak up, they can be heard, and I think it’s good that the Labor
Department recognized that what they were putting out there was not feasible, and not practical, and it’s good that they’ve pulled it back.”
What made this potential rule particularly worrisome is the advancing age of the American farmer. This rule would have been detrimental to the next generation, and generations to come of American farmers:
“Agriculture Commissioner Troxler has been talking for years about the need to recruit more young people to become farmers, because we do have an aging population of farmers in North Carolina, and it’s a trend we’re seeing across the country. and how are you going to encourage a new generation of farmers if they don’t have a chance to do farm work as they’re growing up. You’ve got to get them interested in a young age, you know, get that passion going at a young age, and that work ethic that comes along from being on a farm, and that’s a key thing. And these rules, I think, would have really undermined those efforts.”
Josh Bledsoe, State Agricultural Education Leader and the State FFA Advisor for North Carolina says that had the rules been implemented, the FFA program and the 4-H program would have had a difficult time remaining relevant:
“We see this as a great opportunity now for students to remain active in agriculture, and to be able to continue their projects, and hands-on learning which is the foundation of our delivery program for agricultural education.”
To see the full press release from the Department of Labor, click here.