Toomey opposes federal rules on farm labor, pollution

    Pennsylvania’s junior senator is highlighting a few examples of regulatory overreach that he says could pinch the operation of the commonwealth’s family farms.

    This time last year, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., was fresh off a senatorial win when he said at the 2011 state Farm Show he had a lot to learn about agriculture.

    This year, he’s showing he made good use of his time.

    Toomey said the U.S. Department of Labor proposal to clamp down on child labor on farms is ill-conceived.

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    “This is a really a solution in search of a problem. Kids learn tremendously valuable life lessons by learning the discipline and learning to be productive on a family farm,” said Toomey. “We don’t need a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington deciding that they can’t do that anymore.”

    The rules, proposed in September, would make it harder for minors to work on farms that aren’t owned by their parents alone.

    Toomey says other federal agency proposals to regulate farm runoff are unnecessary.

    According to the head of the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, industries are working well with state agencies to reduce runoff and discharge into the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

    “We have regular meetings where we’re implementing the standards, testing the standards, and making sure that we’re meeting all of the milestones,” said Alan Novak, a former chair of the Republican State Committee. “So the agricultural community on the environmental side has really stepped up.”

    Novak says larger operations, in particular, have plans to manage their manure, contain their water — and permits for any discharge into streams or ground.

    A report released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation this month found little to no support for claims that businesses in the watershed have been hurt by anti-pollution measures.

    It estimates such measures could create 100,000 jobs throughout the bay’s watershed.

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