Government Backs Off New Limits on Child Labor on Farms

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

"This is a major victory for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska and across the country. Just as it seemed the Labor Department would move forward with its terribly  misguided rule, common sense has prevailed."

-Rep. Adrian Smith, 3rd District

Under heavy pressure from farm groups, the Obama administration is dropping an effort to prevent children from doing hazardous work on farms owned by anyone other than their parents.

The Labor Department says it is withdrawing proposed rules that
would ban children younger than 16 from using most power-driven

The rules also would prevent those younger than 18 from working in feed lots, grain bins and stockyards.

Nebraska Congressman Adrian Smith is welcoming the U.S. Labor Department's decision to withdraw a proposed rule designed to protect children who work on farms, calling it a "major victory for farmers and ranchers."

Smith, a Republicans in Nebraska's 3rd District, released a statement Thursday evening celebrating the Labor Department's decision to abandon its proposed rule. He argued that "common
sense has prevailed."

The agency says thousands of comments have expressed concern about the impact of the changes on small family-owned farms.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau said they were "elated" to hear the news. Jordan Dux says the rules were "too broad and restrictive."

He says the grassroots efforts to send a message to Washington worked.

"I think this is one of those issues that you can stand on and say DC listened to the cries of the American people. They listened to farmers and ranchers, they listened to young people. It's one of those prime examples when a lot of people get together, one they try to focus on one particular goal when they try to tell Washington something. Occasionally, they will listen."

Many farm groups have complained that the rules would upset traditions in which children often work alongside relatives other than parents to learn how a farm operates.

Government officials have said their goal was to protect children from life-threatening injuries.

Here is the press release from the Department of Labor:

The U.S. Department of Labor today issued the following statement regarding the withdrawal of a proposed rule dealing with children who work in agricultural vocations:

“The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations."

“As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations."

“The decision to withdraw this rule – including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ – was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration."

“Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders – such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H – to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.”

Do you think the government made the right decision to drop its proposal for new limits on child labor on farms?

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