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Published March 05, 2012, 09:31 AM

Work restrictions lead to limitations

WASHINGTON — Family farms are woven into the fabric and culture of life in South Dakota. Most of us visited or worked on a farm growing up, or had friends and family that did. While working on a farm during the summer months as a teenager, I learned countless life lessons, including a strong work ethic, an appreciation for nature and the outdoors and the importance of community.

By: John Thune, Agweek

WASHINGTON — Family farms are woven into the fabric and culture of life in South Dakota. Most of us visited or worked on a farm growing up, or had friends and family that did. While working on a farm during the summer months as a teenager, I learned countless life lessons, including a strong work ethic, an appreciation for nature and the outdoors and the importance of community.

Yet, despite the current family farm structure working well with younger members helping out, Washington bureaucrats now are proposing “solutions” to fix a nonexistent problem.

Some of the most troubling limitations: certain workers younger than 16 would not be allowed to work with animals when pain is being inflicted, such as branding and vaccinating; certain workers younger than 16 would not be able to work on a ladder or a scaffold higher than 6 feet (current restriction is 20 feet); certain workers younger than 16 could not work as combine operators and corn pickers or be allowed to use power-driven machines to do agricultural work, including anything operated by wind, electricity, fossil fuels, batteries, animals or water; and no one younger than 18 would be allowed to work in stockyards, grain elevators, feedlots, livestock exchanges or auctions.

These proposed rules would deny young people opportunities to assist on the farm or even learn about farming, including involvement FFA and 4-H.

Not only would this prescriptive language severely limit young people’s ability to work on farms, it would increase the cost of doing business for our farmers and ranchers.

These proposed rules threaten family enterprises and I encourage all concerned South Dakotans to contact their local farm organizations as they are united in the battle for common sense on this issue.

As a U.S. senator, I will continue to fight these ill-advised proposals.

Editor’s Note: Thune is a Republican U.S. senator from South Dakota.

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