By Tim Leeds 

Baucus to Solis: Put your boots on a Montana farm


Montana's senior U. S. senator sent an invitation to the U. S. Department of Labor to look at a hot topic: regulating child labor on agricultural operations.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., invited Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis to come visit farms and ranches and see what it is like when children and youths work on those operations.

"I hope Secretary Solis will take me up on my offer, put her boots on the ground in Montana and better understand why we believe so strongly that Montana families — not feds — should be divvying up farm chores, " Baucus said in a press release Monday.

The issue over Department of Labor regulating child labor on farms and ranches has made headlines in the past few months. Proposed regulations would block children from performing many common tasks on farms and ranches. Children working on family ag operations were exempted.

Last week, the department announced it was expanding the exemption to cover more operations including family corporations and partnerships, but Montana's lawmakers said the proposal still would hurt family farms.

In his letter, Baucus invited Solis to learn first-hand how youths work on Montana farms and ranches.

"Montana farmers and ranchers are some of the most productive in the nation" he wrote to Solis. "I invite you to talk with those farmers, but also with the Montanan youth who rely on work in the agricultural sector for essential skills, satisfying work, and income. They will tell you that they don't need government bureaucrats telling them that they can't ride horses while herding, or brand cattle for their neighbors. "


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