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Supporting Our Family Farms

Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013, at 4:37 PM

I had the pleasure of growing up in an agricultural family. My dad taught vocational agriculture at the local high school. I was active in 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA). I even served as state president and a national vice president of FFA. I was raised with responsibilities that helped shape my character and taught me many skills I have used throughout my life.

Recently, federal labor laws regarding minors have been called into question. One proposed rule would prohibit children under 18 from working "in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials." The proposed restrictions would also keep those kids from working in "country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions." These laws would apply to any children under the age of 18, including children of farmers.

The backbone of this country rests squarely on the family farm, and that is the lifestyle that is threatened by these potential rule changes.

In a recent meeting of the Senate Agriculture Committee, my colleagues and I heard testimony on Senate Bill 16, which would exempt children from these specific rules while working their own families' farms or on the family farm of others with their parents' consent.

Children who grow up on farms are often given chores as soon as they are able to understand the work. They grow up knowing that work won't wait for them to be ready; it's waiting to be done. That work ethic can be difficult to teach, but it's easy to grow up with.

As well as providing a strong foundation of character for these young Missourians, working on the family farm can instill in them a love of farm work. After all, if parents don't teach their children, the number of people participating in agricultural pursuits will continue to dwindle until this country no longer grows its own food. If lawmakers don't step up and recognize the dangers these federal laws present to our rural way of life, we will end up legislating ourselves out of local produce and livestock.

As a product of this rural lifestyle, I continue to advocate for the family farm and the values and work that it represents. I look forward to continuing this discussion throughout the session and fighting for our farmers' futures, as well as our future farmers.

As always, please feel free to contact me or my staff with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and trying to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at 866-277-0882 (toll-free) or 573-751-2272, or by fax at 573-526-7381.

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I have to agree with you, Mr. Pearce.

Seems foolish that kids could work at fast food restaurants until well after midnight, or in other perhaps not so desirable minimum wage jobs, but could not work on the family farm, or on the neighbors farm if they need help.

I am sure the folks in the federal government think that these regulations will somehow protect young folks from work related injuries and accidents. Of course, that is like saying that not letting teenagers drive would cut down on auto accidents involving teenagers.

It might be true, but it is also impractical and unpopular.

-- Posted by countryman on Fri, Feb 1, 2013, at 8:24 AM

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Senator David Pearce, a Republican, represents District 21 in the Missouri Senate, which covers Caldwell, Carroll, Howard, Johnson, Lafayette, Livingston, Ray and Saline counties. Due to redistricting, he was elected to serve the 21st District in 2012, after serving a previous term in the Missouri Senate representing District 31 in November 2008 after completing three, two-year terms in the Missouri House of Representatives. Pearce serves as chairman of the Senate Education Committee, chairman of the Joint Committee on Education, and was chairman of the Educated Citizenry 2020 Committee. Pearce was appointed to serve on the Missouri Veterans Commission in August 2009 and continues to serve in that capacity. He was also reappointed to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact in September 2010, and was honored to serve again as an Executive Committee member. In addition, Pearce serves as a member of several Senate Committees: Appropriations; Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections; and Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources. Capitol Office: 201 W Capitol Ave., Rm. 227 Jefferson City, Missouri 65101 (573) 751-2272 FAX: (573) 526-7381
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