Rep. Tom Latham, R.- Iowa, has introduced bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Congress that will block Washington’s attack on America’s long-standing family farm tradition, according to a press release from Latham’s office. The bill blocks recent attempts by the U.S. Department of Labor, with moral support from the Department of Agriculture, to increase federal regulatory involvement into family farms that risk outlawing farm youth from working on their family-owned farms.

“The family farm is one of Iowa’s most cherished traditions and a cornerstone of our state and nation’s economy and cultural history,” Congressman Latham said. “The armies of federal bureaucrats who spend day after day drawing up new regulations have now set their sights on the institution of the family farm. It is a misguided idea that threatens the ability of America’s youth to contribute to farms owned by their own families.  My legislation blocks Washington’s regulation monster from yet another intrusion into the operations of our family farms.”

The legislation, the Preserving America’s Family Farms Act, bars the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing any regulation that would prohibit farm youth from working on farms owned by their families by restricting finalization of the rule the department proposed in September of 2011.  

Historically, family farms have been exempted from child labor rules, but concerns have arisen that a proposal from the Department of Labor could jeopardize that exclusion for operations that are partly owned by extended family members such as grandparents, aunts or uncles.  Such practices occur often in modern agriculture as families employ a variety of legal structures to remain financially viable.  

The Department of Labor’s proposed regulation also would eliminate a pair of certification programs that allow student learners to perform certain kinds of farm work, such as the operation of tractors.   The proposed elimination of the certification programs has drawn opposition from farm youth groups like FFA and 4-H.

Congressman Latham introduced the legislation with Rep. Dan Boren, D.-Okla., who joined Rep. Latham to speak out against the misguided regulation in December.

“Many family farms in Oklahoma depend on the contributions of youth for their successful operation,” Congressman Boren said. “While I understand the concern for safety of young people on farms, the government should be careful to not adversely impact these small businesses.  I look forward to working with my colleague Congressman Latham to advance this bill.”