By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
United States Senator Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama issued a statement following his sponsorship of new bipartisan legislation protecting American farmers from regulatory overreach by the federal government. The Preserving America’s Family Farm Act would prevent the Department of Labor (DOL) from unilaterally imposing controversial new rules which would restrict the ability of family farmers to work together as a family.
Senator Sessions said, “Americans are justly concerned about the increasing reach and scope of federal intrusion.” “Especially troubling is that so much of this intrusion is done without public debate or votes—but simply imposed by an unelected federal bureaucracy. These bureaucratic farm regulations are inconsistent with the idea of limited, representative government. This is an important issue in Alabama, and our state’s farmers have a right to be protected from federal overreach, which intrudes on both their pocketbooks and their way of life. If this kind of overreach is left unchecked, it is only a matter of time before every American family is impacted by federal rulemaking run amok.”
The Preserving America’s Family Farm Act is in response to 85 pages of new rules released by Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Sec. Solis’s new rules are the DOL’s reinterpretation of decades old child labor laws. The new regulations “would directly impede on the lives and livelihoods of America’s family farmers by prohibiting youth from engaging in a wide array of traditional farm activity. These DOL rules would impose new restrictions on the handling of farm animals; common livestock practices such as vaccinating and hoof trimming; operating farm machinery; completing tasks at elevations over six feet high; and working at stockyards and grain and feed facilities.”
America’s farmers and ranchers would be prohibited from training the next generation of family farmers and ranchers in the manner that millennia of farmers and ranchers learned their skills.
Alabama Farmers Federation National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker agreed with Sen. Sessions: “The Alabama Farmers Federation supports Sen. Sessions in his effort to block is this overly intrusive rule that imposes more regulations on the farmer, which are simply not justified.” “Farming has always been a family business where kids learn the values of responsibility, animal care, leadership, and honest work. This rule, to some degree, would allow the federal government to decide how rural families should raise their kids and what type of chores would be permissible on their parent’s, grandparent’s or neighbor’s farm.” “We view the safety of children with the highest of regard, but we also believe that parents know better than the federal government what chores are appropriate for their kids to undertake.”
Alabama Department of Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said on Facebook “Please call your congressman and senators to show support for this bill. US Dept of Labor trying to kill the family farm.”
The Preserving America’s Family Farm Act was introduceed by U.S. Senators John Thune (R) from South Dakota and Jerry Moran (R) from Kansas. In December of last year, Senator Sessions and 28 of his Senate colleagues sent a letter to the Department of Labor outlining numerous concerns and requesting that the proposed rule be withdrawn. Their concerns and the pleas of numerous farmers and ranchers were ignored by DOL Secretary Solis and the Obama administration who are imposing their will without an act of Congress. The Preserving America’s Family Farm Act is an attempt to undo the decree of the Department of Labor.
To read Senator Sessions press release in its entirety: