Blunt and McCaskill joined forces getting Obama to back away from farmers

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Obama administration is backing away from a proposal to prevent children from working on farms owned by anyone other than their parents.

In response to heavy political pressure from both Republicans and Democrats, the Labor Department said Thursday that it is pulling back a proposal that would have restricted teenagers from using powerful farm equipment and working in feed lots, grain bins, and stockyards.

The issue had become an anecdote for Republicans as they campaigned through rural Missouri this year, hoping to define Democrats as the party of overreach ahead of the November elections.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who grew up on a farm in southwest Missouri, was one of the rule’s biggest critics in Missouri. Friday, he said the president’s withdrawal was the right thing to do.

“I’m glad the Obama Administration finally heeded our calls and backed down from this ridiculous government overreach,” Blunt said. “Having grown up working on farms, I understand just how absurd this rule is for our nation’s agriculture industry.

Blunt, however, was not the only Missouri lawmaker to oppose the rule.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D.-Mo., joined Blunt, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, in supporting legislation to prevent the Labor Department from implementing the rule.

“It took longer than it should have,” McCaskill said, “but I’m glad to see the bipartisan work to instill some common sense has finally paid off, and Missouri farm families will have one less thing to worry about.”

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, also Democrat, had also opposed the proposal. In early April, he joined the Missouri Farm Bureau in publishing a letter calling on the Labor Department to withdraw their proposal.

Nixon said Thursday’s announcement “restores common sense” and will allow children on farms to “learn responsibility, dependability, and the value of hard work.”