Rehberg Draws on Personal Ranching Experience, Vows to Protect Family Farms from Bad Department of Labor Rule in Small Business Committee Hearing

Announces Prohibition to Rule in FY13 Labor, Health & Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today questioned Nancy Leppink, the Deputy Administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, about a proposed rule widely believed to represent a major regulatory threat to the future of the family farm.  Drawing on his personal experience as a rancher, Rehberg expressed his opposition to the measure, and promised to include language in the Appropriations legislation he’s responsible for crafting to prevent the implementation of any so-called “Youth Ag Rule” in its current form.

“I just don’t think the bureaucrats at the Department of Labor get it,” said Rehberg.  “I agree with Ms. Leppink when she said that one child being injured or killed is one child too many.  Only in Washington D.C. would anyone assume that a faceless bureaucrat is better equipped to look out for a child’s best interest than a parent.  Instead of a top-down government-knows-best set of rules, let’s get the federal government on the side of our struggling family farms.”

Despite not being on the Small Business Committee, Rehberg’s leadership on this issue led Chairman Scott Tipton (CO-03) to ask him to join the hearing.  It was held by the Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade and was entitled, “The Future of the Family Farm: The Effect of Proposed DOL Regulations on Small Business Producers.”

During his testimony, Rehberg drew on his personal experience as a fifth generation Montana rancher, including hiring youngsters to help him herd his goats.  He also promised to fight to block any funding for the enforcement of the rule in its current form.

Among the problematic provisions proposed by the Department of Labor under the Obama Administration:

  • No one under the age of 16 would be allowed to work with animals when pain is being inflicted, such as branding, castrating, vaccinating, etc.
  • No one under the age of 16 would be allowed to work on a ladder or a scaffold over 6 feet high (current restriction is 20 feet).
  • No one under the age of 16 would be allowed to work in a pen with an uncastrated male bovine, porcine, or equine animal over 6 months old.
  • Currently, hired workers under the age of 16 are not allowed to operate combines, corn pickers, etc.  The proposal would prohibit those under 16 from using all power driven machines to do ag work, including anything operated by “wind, electricity, fossil fuels, batteries, animals, or water.
  • No one under 18 would be allowed to work in stockyards, grain elevators, feedlots, livestock exchanges, and auctions.

Rehberg officially submitted a comment against the proposed rule on December 1 last year, andon December 16 crafted and sent a bipartisan letter with 153 fellow members, including 23 Democrats, expressing opposition to the proposal.

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