Montana Senator Tester announces extension on farmers chance to comment on proposed labor regulation


Senator Jon Tester is encouraging Montana’s family farmers comment on a proposed rule regarding the hiring of teenagers to do agricultural work, after announcing that the U.S. Labor Department will extend its comment period.

In September, the Labor Department notified farmers that they would have 60 days to express any concerns over new guidelines that limit how teens can work in agricultural settings.

But earlier this week, with harvest season just completed and Montanans still busy on their farms, Tester pushed the Labor Department to extend its comment period beyond that November 1 deadline.

Tester, in a bipartisan letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, said that farmers need additional time to review the rule, which could have wide-ranging consequences for family farms.

“Not only would this regulation, as currently drafted, have far reaching effects on youth agricultural education programs, farms, ranches, and other agricultural business, it could greatly impact the structure of family farms and rural communities,” Tester wrote.

Tester, a third-generation farmer from Big Sandy, added that farmers must get the chance to make sure the rule keeps kids safe while not going too far in limiting farm production.

“Government works best when decisions are based on good information so I’m glad that the federal government is giving family farmers an opportunity to have a real say in the operation of their farms,” Tester said after the Labor Department’s decision.  “Hands-on farming helps teenagers get real work experience to build a strong work ethic.”

Tester, an outspoken leader for transparency in government, encourages all interested Montanans to submit comments online HERE.

Tester’s letter to Solis appears online HERE.


Contact:          Aaron Murphy (406) 252-0550 or Andrea Helling (202) 228-0371