Thirty-two Senators have joined together to ask Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to give farmers and ranchers adequate time to comment on the proposed rule that would limit their ability to hire youth to work in agriculture. Proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act include a ban on youth under the age of 15 working on a farm or ranch not directly owned by their parents and would also place new restrictions on the type of activities younger farm workers are allowed to perform.In a letter sent to Solis this week the Senators seek a 60-day extension of the comment period on the proposal, as the current comment period falls during the busiest time of year for ag producers - fall harvest. The Senators believe farmers and ranchers were given inadequate notice and insufficient time to comment on a rule that could fundamentally disrupt ag practices across the country. According to the letter the regulation as currently drafted would not only have far reaching effects on youth agricultural education programs, farms, ranches and other agricultural businesses, it could greatly impact the structure of family farms and rural communities.
The U.S. Senators signing the letter include Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Max Baucus, D-Mont., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Herb Kohl, D-Wis., Dick Lugar, R-Ind., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., James Risch, R-Idaho, Jon Tester, D-Mont., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Jim DeMint, R-S.C., John Boozman, R-Ark., Dan Coats, R-Ind., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., John Hoeven, R-N.D., John Thune, R-S.D., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. and Tom Udall, D-N.M.