CARE bill could hinder our youth leasing programs

Hoard's Dairyman: 

CARE bill could hinder our youth leasing programs

Date: 
Wed, 06/23/2010

One of the most successful opportunities to get nonfarm youth excited about the dairy industry we've witnessed is leasing programs through 4-H, FFA, or breed groups.

These leasing programs give youth without a farm background a chance to work with a project animal, gain experience on farms, and potentially find a career they love.

You'd be surprised how many people working in the dairy industry didn't actually grow up on dairy farms, yet were introduced through a youth project.

H.R. 3564, the Children's Act for Responsible Employment (CARE), introduced by representative Lucille Roybal Allard (D-Calif.) could eliminate exemptions in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA allows nonfarm youth ages 12 to 17 to work on farms in safe conditions under certain circumstances with parental consent. CARE does not currently create an exemption for youth working with youth programs for 4-H or FFA. This means that youth could technically still lease animals and show at the county fair, but not work on your farm in exchange for the lease or in preparation of the local fair.

The goal of the original bill was to prevent the common employment of children of migrant workers. However, our industry may suffer a loss of future leaders if nonfarm youth are legally not allowed to work with us on our farms.