Local Farmers Relieved Over House Vote - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Local Farmers Relieved Over House Vote

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by  Heather Graf

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It's being called a bold move by Tennessee lawmakers - a vote that announces their intent to essentially ignore federal regulations regarding child labor on family farms.

That 70-24 vote came on Monday night.

State Representative Jeremy Faison sponsored House Bill 2669, and says he did so because he feels the new federal regulations being considered just don't belong in our state.

"My immediate reaction was my goodness! This will affect every farm in Tennessee," he said.  "We put this bill together to let the Depart of Labor in Washington, D.C. know that they're so far overreaching that we can't go along with this, and that we won't fund it, we won't help them with it."

The U.S. Department of Labor is considering stricter rules regarding child labor in an attempt to keep kids away from some of the most dangerous farm jobs.

Local farmers agree with Faison, and feel it's a bad idea.

"This is a family farm, and family's always been important," said John Batey, a farmer in Rutherford County.  "I have six grand kids.  The three and four-year-olds try to mimic after you, walk behind you.  If you pick up something, they try to do the same thing, and you can teach them the safety aspect of it."

Batey, who is a sixth generation farmer, says he started working on the farm as a child, and those experiences are some of his fondest memories.  He says it's a tradition people just don't understand.

"We're about 1.5% of the population, so nobody else understands our culture much," he said.

One person that does understand it is Logan Hickerson.  He's a 16-year-old family friend who often works on Batey's farm.  The new regulations wouldn't allow him to do so.

"It would affect future generations," said Hickerson.  "This is just how we were raised, just coming to the farm every day and working.  I mean, we really don't know anything else."

That's why both Hickerson and Batey are relieved by Monday's vote at the State House.

"It's the best thing to come out of the Tennessee House in the last year or so," said Batey.  "This is a positive thing for farmers."

Those state lawmakers opposed to House Bill 2669 expressed concern that Tennessee farmers could lose federal subsidies or funding, if the state refuses to comply with those regulations.

The companion bill will be taken up in the senate over the next days.

Email: hgraf@newschannel5.com
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