These proposals could become part of the Child Labor Act unless changes are made, and the Department of Labor is accepting comments through December 1. If you have a comment, submit it here.
One of those submitting comments may be Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack because the proposed regulations are very embarrassing for him. No, he doesn’t have a 13 year old driving a tractor back on an Iowa farm. But Secretary Vilsack has been speaking out strongly about the need to create farming opportunities for young people.
On January 20 in Washington, Vilsack addressed the National FFA officers and said, “I would like for you to work with your fellow students and the adult leadership of the organization to develop a series of recommendations around the upcoming Farm Bill that will encourage more young people to pursue careers in farming. Over the next few years we will need 100,000 new farmers and I am looking to you for ideas, guidance and suggestions to help make that happen. If you do this in a serious thoughtful manner (which I know you will do) I will make myself and all of my Under Secretaries available to hear this report. So that we can utilize this information to guide our input to Congress, I would like to have your report to me one year from today.”
And on October 24, in Ankeny, IA, Vilsack laid out his Farm Bill priorities, expressing concern about the average age of farmers adding, “The average American farmer is 57 years of age. Nearly 30 percent of American farmers are over the age of 65, which is almost double the number of folks in the workforce over 65. Now, some of these folks want to slow down or retire; but they have no one to take over the farming operation. That challenges us to find new ways, through tax policy, through regulations, through our credit programs or other programs, to help transition farms to the next generation. We’ll need a community effort to recruit, train, and support this new generation of farmers and ranchers; and we need to make sure that it’s for operations of all sizes.”
Mr. Secretary, just like a corn kernel grows into a stalk of corn, a farm kid grows up to be a farmer. You have to start with a seed, and your federal colleagues at the Department of Labor have been plowing up your corn field.
Source: Stu Ellis, FarmGate