Senate panel approves Emmons resolution to protect family farms

LANSING – A Senate panel on Thursday approved a resolution sponsored by Sen. Judy Emmons urging the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to halt enactment of proposed rules that would prohibit children under age 16 from performing many duties on a farm – including all interaction with animals.

“The federal government’s proposed rules are ridiculous and show a shocking lack of knowledge by the labor department of how family farms operate and the unique experiences young people gather while working on the farm,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “Working on a farm is a safe, valuable way to build solid character and work ethic, which are cornerstones of good citizenship. They are also the types of experiences and attributes employers in today’s economy want in their employees.”

The proposed revisions to the federal child labor regulations by the DOL would strictly prohibit for youths less than 16 years old any agricultural work with animals and all work if the farm is owned by a family member other than the child’s parents.

“Uncle Sam wants to ban kids from working on their uncle’s farm,” Emmons said. “I sponsored this resolution to send a clear message to the Washington bureaucrats that these proposed new rules will devastate the family farm at the heart of Michigan’s second-largest industry, and they must not be implemented.”

Emmons noted that the proposed rules could eliminate all 4-H, FFA and Extension training programs and prohibit youths under age 16 from raising animals and showing them at county fairs.

“Total elimination of interaction with animals might be the more onerous part of the new regulations,” Emmons said. “Raising an animal and learning the life lessons of responsibility and dependability are great bonding and educational experiences that will be lost under these federal proposals. The impact of the loss on millions of children and the community organizations that foster those experiences is heart wrenching.”

Emmons’ measure, Senate Resolution 94, has been sent to the full Senate for consideration.